Come Dine With The Courier: Independent vs superstores – how to get the best value out of your weekly shop

IMG_0581ABERYSTWYTH is fairly limited in its choice of large supermarkets. You would think that the common consumer is stuck for choice when it comes to buying their groceries, but this is not the case. There are many independent stores in town such as the butchers, grocers, bakers and so on that can provide a great alternative.

During my time at university, I’ve certainly tried my best to ensure that I buy local produce. My reasoning for this is that locally sourced produce is usually of much better quality and adds a richness of flavor to my cooking. Rob Rattray Butchers (Chalybeate Street) is a regular stop off to buy my meat, from slices of ham to sausages and chicken thighs.

You can be pretty sure that the meat is locally sourced and hasn’t travelled far to get there. It’s common knowledge that the longer meat has had to travel, the poorer the quality. At the other end of the spectrum with the larger supermarkets, you can’t be positive that the produce hasn’t had to travel hundreds of miles to get to you. The fishmongers and grocers will both boast the same benefit to their produce, with the former selling fish that has been caught in the Irish Sea and the latter receiving their fruit and vegetables from farms across Ceredigion and the rest of Wales.

To accompany this comparison, I decided to cook up a sausage and bean casserole, which uses many different ingredients that can be found in independent stores and supermarkets.

Sausage and bean casserole (serves four)

You will need:
8-12 chipolatas
400g chopped tomatoes
400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, diced
1 leek, sliced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of paprika
2 tablespoons of honey
Some olive oil
A large casserole dish


Start by heating the oil in a pan over high heat and add the sausages. Cook for four to five minutes until brown. If you can’t do them all at once, cook them in two batches. Remove these from the pan and set aside.
Add the garlic, leek and carrot and cook for five minutes continually stirring to evenly distribute the heat.
Add the tomatoes, paprika, honey, beans and 500ml of water.
Return the sausages to the pan, bring to the boil then reduce to medium heat.
Simmer for 40-50 minutes until you notice the sauce has thickened.

This simple dish is a tasty treat to share with friends.

When I bought the ingredients for the casserole, I tested the price of supermarket produce against that of the independent stores and for the same quality goods, the local shops proved cheaper!

So next time you’re going out to shop for food, consider the local businesses. You never know, you may even save a bit of money!