Thursday, 14 May 2009

Another supermarket pricing rant

I was going to blog about the two fabulous old cookbooks I picked up for a song in Devon last week but this week has been so manic I'll have to content myself with whingeing - once again - about supermarket pricing which almost matches MPs expenses claims for its deviousness.

My husband who was cooking supper last night doesn't really believe in veg so I nipped down the road to get some from Tesco (Yes, groan) We were having grilled mackerel and I fancied broccoli and it was on special offer so that seemed the perfect solution. Except for the fact that even with 20p off it cost 79p.

I know this is absolutely par for the course but occasionally you stop and think that that is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a small head of broccoli for two (particularly if you paid the full price). Since when did it cost nearly a £1 to produce and transport a non-organic, mass-produced vegetable? (Not that I'm sure the grower got anything like that). No wonder we're unhealthy in this country when basic veg cost as much as this. It certainly explains why Tesco continues to earn billions a year and is thinking of setting up its own bank. It's certainly got plenty of money to lend.

Anyway my new quick trick with veg like broccoli is to part stir-fry, part-steam them in a frying pan. I sweated off a sliced leek for a few seconds, added the broccoli florets (the stalks will go into a soup), stir fried a couple of minutes with a little fresh garlic then added half a glass or so of water and stirred and tossed until the broccoli was tender (about another 2 minutes), adding a slosh of light soy sauce at the end.

I also added a tiny handful of living salad leaves from the plants I bought a couple of weeks back. Unorthodox but there were too few to make a salad and the effect was rather nice, like adding a scattering of herbs. One pot is looking rather sickly though. I've either watered it too much or too little . . . Any thoughts?


Alex said...

I think that as well as some veg being more expensive than a reconstituted meat ready-meal, most people are inherently lazy (and are still ignorant to the benefits of a healthy diet). They simply cannot be bothered to chop up a carrot, boil water, cook and drain some veg when all they have to do is peel back packaging and whack in a microwave.
Sick, on so many levels.

Maisie said...

For times like that i would have a bag of frozen broccoli from which can be taken the amount needed.

Most broccoli at the moment is still being imported, and although frozen is not ideal it is better than paying over the odds for the imported stuff.

Anonymous said...

Last week you asked if cheap food is acceptable - now you say it's too expensive!

I would though be interested to hear more about your recent cookbook purchases. I bought a really good Jane Grigson book recently for 50p which is actually much more useful to me than several other books I've bought for £15-20!

robert said...

Regarding salad plants. I only water when the soil is dry. If it's damp. Then there is enough moisture for the plant.

Back to Tesco. I work for them and they are a business dedicated to maintaining the highest returns for it's own shareholders. I don't always agree with it's pricing but I know there are alternatives which I do use! Much to the horror of some staff who regard you as traitors!

To Tesco, this is not meant to bring the company into disrepute as it's my opinion based upon the facts!

James said...

Maybe the frozen idea from Maisie is not so bad - if you cook and freeze your own broccoli. If you brought a whole load at a market when you had time it would work out much cheaper. You could cook it, freeze it in portion sizes and zap it in the microwave - best of both worlds. I'm also using soy a lot for seasoning at home at the moment - the salt's coagulated in the salt mill with steam and I've given up with it. The soy's nice.

Tried roasting broccoli?

Fiona Beckett said...

That's because a girl has a right to change her mind anonymous! Seriously I don't think there's an inconsistency there. Was saying that many people can't afford to shop in farmers' markets. Am saying that at the prices supermarkets charge for some lines (not all) they sometimes can't afford to shop there either. And we're talking about the big companies that supply them not the small producer

(The ready prepared broccoli was even more expensive, Alex!)

Good point about frozen broccoli, Maisie and I've advocated its use before but just didn't happen to have any in the freezer. I like the idea of freezing your own James - it would probably go less soggy - and like the idea of roasting it.

Thanks for the tip on salad plants, Robert. I think what happened is that while I was up in London earlier in the week my husband used the spray nozzle on the watering can so only the leaves got wet and the compost was dry. Looks marginally healthier this morning.

And the cookbooks? I'll blog about those in the next couple of days. Agree, Jane Grigson is a joy!

Fiona Beckett said...

On the plus side I just bought a bunch of British asparagus for £1.50 in Somerfield which seems a fair deal.

Anonymous said...

I doubt it is a fair deal for the asparagus grower though.

verity said...

Saw your article in the M and S magazine! Very unfrugally I often find myself shopping there as the nearest food shops to both my home and work (10 mins walk) are M and S's... that's what you get for living in Oxford I guess!

local lass said...

I've ranted about it before but top prize for deviousness has to go to Tesco's pricing of some fruit and veg, especially tomatoes - why can't they all be priced per kilo/lb so you can compare? As for "market Value" - do they think we are all completely gullible? MV bananas, for example, are often more expensive than regular but you have to weigh them and do the maths to know that.
Jane Grigson is incomparable; another brilliant writer, happily still with us, is Katie Stewart -her Times Cookbook is my bible, especially at Christmas, despite having 100s of other books.

fran39 said...

Just found your blog, Fiona, after getting Frugal Food a couple of weeks ago. Lovely book, lovely blog. (Mine is I get a veg box each week, and am into veg growing in quite a big way, so I'm weaning myself off supermarket veg. But when I do buy, I've learnt to look very carefully at the price per kilo as opposed to item price (if you see what I mean). Quite a few rip-offs perpetrated that way, I think.

Fiona Beckett said...

I also love Katie Stewart's books, local lass. My Times Cook Book (which should be available through Amazon or Abe if you can't find it in a second hand bookshop) is practically falling apart!

And welcome to the blog, Fran. I enjoyed looking at yours. I must get that Maria Elia book - I'm a big fan of hers

Amazing how many people have spotted that M & S article, Verity! Shows you're not the only one hanging out there ;-)

Sandy said...

Hello Fiona

Just found your blog and really like it. We live in Sydney (Australia) and food here can be quite expensive, but we are blessed enough to be close to some organic growers. As well, some of the bigger supermarkets do stock organic fruit and veg and sometimes chicken.

We live in a rented home and I got sick of leaving trees (cherry) and veggie gardens behind when we had to move, so have planted stone fruit and citrus in large pots, and veggies in deep styrofoam boxes that shops toss out. Last summer we had herbs, luscious strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, silverbeet and capsicums. Now that it's autumn here, we have peas and pumpkins coming on. The pumpkin vine rambles up over a trellis (as do watermelons) and it amazed me just how heavy a fruit could get and the vine still held it.

I do need to get the potatoes in asap though.