Bargain prices…for bargain people.

I had a mission for Sunday. It was not a noble mission, true. Nonetheless it was important. I wanted to find a budget supermarket, and do a weekly shop.

You might think (and perhaps rightly) that I ought to expand my horizons and ambitions. To engage in some philanthropic activity, for the betterment of humanity. To campaign for environmental causes. To volunteer for some worthy issue.

It’s not that I don’t support these ideas, but my shopping situation was getting out of hand. Therefore it needed to be addressed.

Where I live is in the financial sector of Dublin. I have previously described the big glass banks and insurance companies, that are visible from my window. My flat is in a shiny, new apartment block. From the kitchen I see the banks. From my bedroom I see the Street – a notorious address, where crime pays. Allegedly. The chipper on the Street does a fantastic spice bag however. At least the police in the squad car, permanently stationed on the street won’t go hungry. Neither will the entrepreneurs – busily plying their trade in Blueys and Yellas in full view of the gardai.

This leads to a slightly schizophrenic existence. In the financial district there are scores of ritzy little cafes, sushi joints, and gourmet sandwich bars. All to cater for the lunchtime needs of the banker bees. At prices the banker bees can afford.
Most of these places are closed on the weekend – there’s not enough trade when the minions of industry are home for the weekend. The residents of the street, and in my sparkly building won’t keep them profitable between Friday and Monday.

The supermarket situation is also a bit strange. Within spitting distance of the front gate of my building is a Marks and Spencer Food Hall, a Fresh supermarket, and a Spar. There is a security guard permanently employed by each one. To keep certain customers well behaved I suppose.

These three stores have an excellent selection of high end food, at high end prices. Bountiful salad bars, luxurious sandwich stands, organic pre-prepared meals from around the world.

Being lazy – and lacking a car – whenever I need some ingredients I step outside, into one of these palaces, and spend a fortune for a ready made crispy duck and pancake dish.

I wasn’t raised like this. I know how to cook a meal from scratch. But thanks to the convenience of these places, I seldom do.

About a twenty minute walk from my house however, there is both an Aldi and a Lidl – those noble German emporia of budget shopping.

The mission I set for myself this Sunday, was to buy twice the ingredients for half the price.

I set forth. Imagine my surprise to see that the Embassy and Cultural Centre for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on the upper end of the Street. Location, location, location.
The Aldi and the Lidl are situated directly opposite each other. It was like a Sophie’s Choice for my personal meanness. Which would I choose? What a dilemma. As I was already on the same side of the street at as the Lidl, and because I used to shop there in Amsterdam, this was my chosen destination.

Like all budget stores the decor was plain. The produce was stacked in an ungainly manner on top of itself. Spending money on making the shops pleasant places, doesn’t factor into the shop design. But then it is unnecessary.

At those prices, I can forsake plush decor.

I piled my basket high. Apples, eggs, bread, sardines, a whole chicken, toilet roll, clothes detergent, bananas, broccoli, onions, carrots.

And a winter jacket. It will probably shoot up in flames if it comes within a metre of a fire. But it is simple and black. And who’s to know that it is a Lidl jacket – apart from the readers of this blog, and fellow Lidl Fashion aficionados.

All for 52 euros.

The journey home, laden down down with kilos of shopping – cunningly disguised in the Dunnes Stores carrier bags I had brought with me – was less pleasant. My poor arms.

When I finally get a car (and a driver’s license) I suspect I will be a more regular visitor.

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