Shopping unpacked - a handy guide to help you go local

Amidst the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, now more than ever, our independents need our help.

So, we’re here to make this practice a little easier to add to your weekly shopping routine. To help you make the most out of what’s on your doorstep, we’ve put together this handy guide, covering some top tips that will help make local shopping easier for you. Plus, we’ll break down the benefits that come with buying from indies, that you simply don’t get from a shop at your local superstore.

Local shop

For those of you who like an easy life, and are still tempted to stick with an all-in-one supermarket shop, you may well be wondering why it’s worth bothering with the local, traditional specialist food shops. That’s an easy one for us to answer because convenience comes with a price. With food, the environmental price is pesticides, plastic and pollution.

With regards to the quality of the produce that you’re buying, because it’s had to be made available to cater on-demand to the mass market, freshness is forsaken in favour of accessibility. This means that supermarket shelves are being stacked with out-of-season produce, that’s been pumped with preservatives and carted halfway across the world, just so that you can get strawberries for your trifle in November.

With your local grocer, you can opt for plastic-free packaging far more easily. Visiting your local eco-friendly indie or zero-waste shop ,,(have a read of our dedicated zero-waste blog post to find out more) provides you with a far more environmentally conscious way to top up on everything from pasta, lentils and rice, to fresh fruit and veg from the greengrocer. Butchers also use locally-reared meat, that’s been better cared for and with an origin and quality hallmark that you can trust.

In addition, you know that the produce you’re buying at an independent is freshly made, with strict adherence to quality, through natural, ethical production practices. These people take pride in their work, and it shows.

You might be wondering whether it will be tricky for you, as a family, to convert to buying in food that doesn’t last as long. If we haven’t convinced you just by listing the benefits to your health that these locally bought foods provide then, luckily, we’ve got a tool on hand to help you out. The FridgeCam helps you to buy in fresher food with less chemical preservatives, as the fridge insight that it provides you with makes you far less likely to forget to use it before it passes its peak. It’s all about converting our mindset and forcing ourselves out of the habits of convenience that supermarkets have instilled in us. So with the FridgeCam, you can buy fresh local food, without the worry of letting it go to waste.

Plus, it might sound a little cheesy, but the truth of the matter is that you will probably make someone’s day. Independent business owners depend on your business infinitely more than the billionaires that receive the custom of countless millions of customers each year. This not only means that you’re much more likely to get a far friendlier shopping experience, but also that your money is actively doing good, supporting the lives and talent that exists in your local community.

Virtual Neighbourhood

So, now that we’ve convinced you that shopping locally is the way forward, we can provide you with some great tools to make the transition a seamless one. The internet is a fantastic resource and we want to connect you to two resources that we found during our search: My Virtual Neighbourhood, and the Local Buyers Club.

Born out of the need that coronavirus created, My Virtual Neighbourhood is your one-stop-shop (pun intended) for finding local independents in your area, that are currently operating collection, takeaway or delivery services. The website covers the entirety of London, and breaks down the businesses in its database according to different boroughs and areas, so that you can easily find out more about the independents in your area.

The Local Buyers Club similarly showcases London’s independents, providing a platform to help them connect with their consumers far more easily. This online membership club, as part of its core ethos of helping local London communities to thrive, offers discounts to its members when they shop at affiliated independents. This includes savings of up to 25% when their customers choose to shop locally or eat out at independently owned cafes, restaurants and bars. If you’re starting out on your local-shopping enterprise, this is a great scheme to get behind.

But, for those of you who don’t live in London, there are still plenty of ways that you can go about making the transition to food shopping with local businesses. It’s all about planning ahead, by doing a little bit of research before you set out.

Find your favourite places to support around your local area by doing an internet search, asking your friends, speaking to local business owners who you already know of, and keeping an eye out as you wander around your area. Keep notes of any businesses you hadn’t spotted before, and keep an open, inquisitive mind - don’t be afraid to try new places!

Then, when you go out (for example, ready for your next staycation or city break), look in advance at any lovely looking local shops or eateries that you’d like to visit. TripAdvisor is a great resource for this, or you could use local guidebooks, or you could even (yes, it might require a bit of bravery) ask your server at a shop or cafe that you visit for recommendations. All it requires is a bit of pro-activity and a little bit of curiosity.

Now that we’ve fully converted you to the practice of buying from independents, let us partner your home with a product that will make the switch effortless.

The FridgeCam is designed to help you keep on top of what you’ve got in your kitchen stocks. Our Smarter kitchen appliances are designed to help stop food waste, and make local shopping for your food a much easier task.

By taking a snapshot of the inside of your fridge or pantry and sending this insight to the Smarter app on your smartphone, this nifty piece of tech enables you to see exactly what you’ve got at home, wherever you may be. This is the perfect aid for food shops (particularly those of the impromptu kind), as you can use this insight to help you to buy only what you need. It reminds you that, for example, you wanted to get some salad to go with the fish that you’d bought for dinner, or that you’ve already got a cucumber in (so it stops you from buying double) but you’re out of milk.

Buy helping you to only buy what you need - alongside the fact that the device gives you handy reminders about the use-by dates of your food, too - the FridgeCam will make sure that your trolley is only filled with what you need, and what you will actually use. It will help you to stop wasting food, eat your food before it goes off, and so encourage you to shop locally for your food, in a far more conscious, thoughtful manner.

If you’re ready to switch out your supermarket shops for buying in produce from the UK’s superb independent businesses, get yourself a FridgeCam from our online store, and we’ll have it with you within 72 hours - just in time for your next food shop.