Supermarkets are certainly convenient, but in order to buy tastier, more locally sourced and even cheaper produce it’s often worth looking a little further afield. Shopping in markets and ethnic supermarkets is much more enjoyable and you can often pick up things impossible to find in a regular supermarket.
East Oxford Farmer’s Market
Saturdays from 10am-1pm at East Oxford Primary School – behind Tesco off Cowley Road
This small but very successful market is a brilliant place to spend a Saturday morning. Some of the stalls are on rotation, but every week you’ll find a good selection of fruit, vegetables, breads and dairy products. All the produce is from within a thirty mile radius, and a lot of it is organic. As you’d expect, the fruit and veg stall (which is of course seasonal) sells delicious, easy-to-prepare veg that you often struggle to find in a supermarket, from purple sprouting broccoli (so much tastier than regular) to Jerusalem artichokes. Meat is slightly disappointing, a few stalls stock it, along with other produce, but last time I was there it was mainly frozen. There’s a great trout stall that comes every third Saturday of the month, selling pâtés, fillets and smoked trout all for a very reasonable price. There’s also a lovely café, ran by different people every week, selling various snacks and cooked breakfasts, so to round off your lovely morning you can sit and relax with friends. Tea refills are on the house!
Lung Wah Chong Chinese Supermarket
41-42 Hythe Bridge Street
Asian food is one of the cheapest cuisines to live off; a simple stir fry can be prepared in minutes with very little difficulty. Supermarkets now stock soy sauce, oyster sauce, noodles etc. but they are of very poor quality and are very expensive. The Chinese supermarket, a minute’s walk from the infamous ‘Bridge’ is small but surprisingly well stocked with Chinese vegetables, frozen dumplings, and noodles and sauces galore. A bottle of oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee ‘Panda Brand’ is best), a bottle of soy sauce and if you’re feeling adventurous a bottle of fish sauce and some shrimp infused chilli oil should barely set you back a fiver and will last you all term and beyond. Just remember to keep your oyster sauce in the fridge! For the less ambitious who prefer to buy ready-made sauces, I can assure you anything you find in Lung Wah will be a thousand times better than anything you’ll find in a supermarket. If cooking really isn’t your thing, Asian instant noodles are a world away from Pot Noodle, a fraction of the price, bigger, and actually edible.