‘Why I avoided shopping in supermarkets for a month’

Spend, spend, spend: It's back to the supermarket today, says Sharon Griffiths, after her self-impos

Spend, spend, spend: It's back to the supermarket today, says Sharon Griffiths, after her self-imposed January 'exile'. - Credit: PA

Made it! At last I'm going to the supermarket. I'm so excited. Today's the day I'll buy loo rolls, coffee, butter, yoghurt, out of season veg, crispy salads and other treats.

Other people give up drinking for January. I gave up shopping.

No supermarket shops. No nipping into Marks on the way home. No piling high the farm shop's tasteful wicker basket.

Since I last staggered round Sainsbury's on December 22 with a trolley the size of a small bus, in the last seven weeks all I've bought is fresh fruit. You have to have fruit. No point saving money if you end up with scurvy.

Otherwise we've lived from the freezer, the store cupboard and the sack of spuds in the garage.

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True, because I had no idea who was staying for how long, we were well stocked up before Christmas. But many people are. Last month research showed that most homes have at least £50 worth of food in the freezer – and much of it has been there so long, it just gets thrown out unused. What a waste.

Well, I've explored the murky depths beyond the scattered peas, solitary fish fingers and lidless ice cream tubs and made a month's worth of edible – if sometimes slightly strange – meals. Not quite Tutankhamun's tomb but there were all sorts of treasures down there that I'd forgotten about.

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As well as money, I saved a lot of time by not shopping, as well as arguments over parking spaces and unexpected items in the bagging area.

I also realised how extravagance had crept up on me, how much stuff I buy out of habit rather than necessity and then eat just because it's there. My frugal grandmother would have been horrified. Much harder to pick between meals if there is nothing there to pick at. Less temptation to be over-generous with portions if you're in danger of running out.

I didn't have to think what to make for meals. It was just a question of digging something out of the freezer or the cupboard and wondering what I could do with it. Much less effort.

On all sorts of levels, it's been an interesting exercise.

To be honest, we could have easily gone for another week or so. We've still got plenty of lentils and dried beans and tinned tomatoes. But enough is enough. We're not that worthy.

We've begun to run out of stuff. The loo rolls were definitely the clincher. But the freezer is empty enough to be defrosted and the cupboards are almost bare.

So now I can start filling them all up again – ready for next January.

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