Food shopping…dont overlook the obvious

15 Mar

I have this terribly ambivalent relationships with shops. I passionately want to buy food from quaint market stalls, but frequently end up  buying second class ” fruit and  veg” from  stalls that  are obviously not as good quality as  Tesco or other bigger stores. Sure it looks cheaper, but its normally on the turn and everytime I shop at my corner shop, or a small stall, I regret it. Everytime. ( I think its a family trait that we think we are getting  a bargin)

Steven wrote a great article last year about shopping for paleo food stuffs in the capital, and rightly praised all sorts of small shops. But Let me make it clear that there is nothing in the word “small” that guarantees quality or good service

The nasty thing is, that everytime I shop at Tesco, I seem to get very good fresh food at quite good prices. No one is anxiously  trying to palm rotting stuff off on me. ( In the late 1970’s i was a student green grocer for a holiday Job. It was your job to  distribute the rotten food among the good to get ride of it)  Im passionately in favour of small enterprises, but that was always on the basis that they could actually supply extra quality: Many small food outlets dont deliver this quality. Obviously I love properly organised farmers markets, and who hasnt fallen in love with
Bries pickles.

Sure, Tesco, and the big supermarket world, should be told off for selling row upon row of what we would call “rubbish”, but for the range of meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, its very, very ,useful.  I do disapprove of the fact they deliver stuff, I think you should go down and  suffer with the rest of us, but thats probably just my age. But then  isnt  every shop is just a phone  call to a cab company away from  a home delivery service. after all, even the unbearably trendy Abel and Cole deliver!

So we have to get our better quality food, and if you have the time , its great to visit a farmers market, or   a recommended small shop ( or specialist pickle supplier). But dont overlook the big superstore, especially if it gets you eating better, now.

Getting on the zone or paleo can be difficult enough in the early stages without specialist shopping trips. When you become a fully fledged foodie, and waft around London sampling delicious stuff, it will be great, but for now  if you are in an overstressed, over taxing Job  just  fighting to find 15 minutes a day to prepare food, start with the  big shops you know.

9 thoughts on “Food shopping…dont overlook the obvious

  1. forgot to say, where do you food shop? We are beginning to get a list of the shops and companies that our members use and can recommend to others. Let us know of cool food shops, or horrid multinationals that deliver the services that you need. The extra bonus is that some companies offer pay per click details or reward companies that promote them…. so we may get some cash from tesco ( if you use the links to buy stuff) and a free bottle of pickle from Brie. Hopefully we can set up some supplement links so you can get fish oils, protein powder , (and other s**t) that we and you can recommend, and, who at no cost to you, will contribute to our “get new equipment account”!

  2. Yes, I think Tesco is pretty good and you can get good quality vegetables including organic. You can even get organic meat if you want. And I have no problems with shopping there. However because I have been trying to eat more vegetables I find the shopping is getting heavier and heavier to carry home. I know that’s all extra weight training and I shouldn’t be complaining but it’s also the time it takes as you said!
    Anyway recently I found this article on the web ‘’ and have been using ‘Riverford Organics’ to deliver vegetables and organic meat to me every week. They do seem to be cheaper than Abel and Cole.
    I still shop at Tesco’s for my fruit mainly because I do like out of season fruit and like to choose my own apples and blueberries.

  3. free pickle?

    this wouldn’t be so problematic if I hadn’t lost (yes, lost) my last 12 jars of pickle SOMEWHERE IN MY FLAT. i’ve looked everywhere. I know I didn’t eat them. sigh.

    on fruit and veg: I go to two GREAT and CHEAP and FRESH green grocers – newington green fruit and veg being probably the best in all of London (never though you’d queue to buy rasberries did you) – nothing rots as the stock never lasts, with market garden on essex road being a close second.

    Newington Green fruit and veg is open from 8am – 10m, 7 days a week and has the best selection and variety (round courgettes!) of anywhere I’ve seen in London – nay anywhere else.

    I don’t mind tesco – but I won’t buy their meat. I find it goes off before its best before date, not to mention issues of animal welfare treatment (one of the reasons I can’t make myself go paleo – I can’t make my diet that meat focussed until I can afford organic!)

  4. I’ll do a recommendation for Fulham/Chelsea area if that helps any fellow locals

    Union Market by Fulham Broadway station. Is a kind of farmers market indoors really. Good for meat.

    North End road has a huge market on a saturday all day. Great for fish and seafood. And vegetables and fruit really tasty.

    Miraggio Deli on Fulham Road (Broadway end). Great for freshly made bread pasta. Good selection of cured italian meats.

    The sainsburys in Fulham Broadway underground is pretty comprehensive as is the Waitrose nearby if you are prepared to spend a bit more.

    Happy eating folks 🙂

  5. Supermarket mark-ups on meat and fish are extortionate – I think Tesco charge something like £12 per kilo for chicken breast.

    I do monthly trips to Billingsgate for fish and Smithfield for meat – you have to buy in bulk, but the savings are fantastic (about £20 for 5kg Grade A chicken breast) and the produce is much much better than Tesco fare. I’d recommend Billingsgate as an interesting Saturday morning trip in itself…

    The only drawbacks are 1) the early start – you have to get there with the sparrows 2) you do have to freeze stuff as you’re buying in bulk. But if you’re organised it is well worth it – and you only need to do it once a month…

    Also, the money saved on meat and fish means that I can afford to spend more on yummy organic veg from Abel&cole – bonus!

  6. You’re making me very jealous! Stratford market has to be the crappiest in existence, and makes walking through the Mall almost impossible sometimes. Maybe it will up its game for the Olympics.

  7. Hi Andrew,

    Yes – you can just walk into Billingsgate. I’d recommend it – it’s quite an entertaining place to go actually, a proper London market.

    It’s about a 5-10 minute walk from Canary Wharf Tube or easily accessed off the A12 / A13 if you have a car.

    Do take cash. And try to get there before 7am (opens at 5.30)…

    Although a lot of the sellers are geared up for the “trade” end of the market, most are more than happy to deal with retail custmers – although they wont fillet or descale anything for you like a fishmobnger would.

    I tend to stock up on frozen salmon, mackerel and white fish like Tilapia. I reckon I save about 50% on supermarket prices. Quite a lot of it is improted from overseas, but you do get good quality local stuff as well – Mussels are particularly good this time of year… but best to chat to the guys there and see what’s good.

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