The Experiment began before the birth of their daughter Lizzie. Over the year they have saved £900 and say their diet is better. Now they plan to stay supermarket-free forever.
Faced with the birth of their first child, Ian and Rebekah Pugh decided they needed to tighten their belts.
Realising that supermarkets were costing them a small fortune, they set themselves the challenge of shunning them for a year.
Sticking to ten strict rules, the couple limited their food budget to £50 a week and began buying all their groceries from local shops and markets.
A year later, they have not only completed their challenge, they have saved themselves £895.23 – and are reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
It has been such a success the couple, who live in Faringdon, Oxfordshire, with 18-month-old daughter Elizabeth, have now decided to give up supermarkets for good.
Mrs Pugh, 29, said: ‘I used to think we spent £50 on the weekly supermarket shop. But when I looked at the bank statements it was more like £90.
‘The trouble is you do the weekly shop then end up popping in to get bread and milk one day and come out with a load of other stuff you hadn’t planned on getting because you see all the two-for-ones and special offers as you go round.
‘You see things for £1 and think that’s really cheap, but if you stopped to think about it you don’t really need them. Supermarkets are engineered to make you buy. That’s why the bread and milk is at the back.
‘You can definitely buy certain things cheaper in supermarkets. But it’s the lifestyle change which has made the savings – we’re not buying food or products any more, but ingredients, and the amount of them we need, to make things.
‘Now we don’t have to buy large quantities of things because that’s how they come packaged. I have the time to cook from scratch every day and we make the most of everything we buy.
‘For example, we buy a quality chicken from the butcher which we will roast, then have cold in sandwiches and use the carcass to make stock or soup.’
The Pughs’ ten rules include the opportunity to eat out in a restaurant once a fortnight and the need to avoid wasting any food or drink.
They shop at a local street market and monthly farmer’s market. They use the local butcher’s, delicatessen and cheese shop and have even started getting their pork straight from a nearby farm.
They have also begun making their own bread and get their eggs from their hens Tom, Dick and Harry.
If for any reason, they failed to stick to their £50 budget, the couple slashed the following week’s budget by half.
Mr Pugh, 28, an academic administrator at St Cross College at the University of Oxford, has had to give up his favourite biscuits, but his sweet tooth is now more than satisfied by his wife’s home-made cakes.
Mrs Pugh, who blogged about her ‘Year Without Supermarkets’ during her maternity leave from her job as a mental health worker, said: ‘We are healthier as we have lost weight, and we really appreciate things we used to take for granted like golden syrup, which is ridiculously cheap in supermarkets compared to elsewhere.
‘We think a lot more about what we’re eating too. If you fry a bit of supermarket bacon it usually shrivels away and there’s a lot of water.
‘Ours isn’t like that any more – we know where it comes from and that the pigs have been cared for. We meet the traders and hear about their products. It’s all an added bonus.’
She added: ‘It’s been a good discipline to learn to live this way. We’ve been under our £50 a week food budget – on average we spend about £35.
'I used to keep the cupboard rammed full as if we were expecting a nuclear disaster. Now I just get in what we need.
'We’re eating better quality food, certainly more fruit and vegetables. Lizzie has never had any preserved or processed food. It’s all been home-made.
‘Our diet is also more varied. We buy vegetables in season and meat like pheasant and venison which before we’d have associated with paying for in a restaurant.’
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