Tesco at 5pm. One small sentence that is enough to strike fear into the heart of any St Andrews student. You could forgive even the calmest of people for going mad with sheer frustration when a trip to Tesco generally results in some impressive new bruises and the inevitable internal scream of frustration when you see the chocolate and wine sections have both been decimated. Someone please bring back Nisa.

Morrisons and Aldi would be a more viable option for most people, bar the small problem that they are nowhere near the centre of town. So, unless you have a car or a very nice friend, the bother of the bus trips to and fro barely make it worth it – especially in exam season when all you want is a massive bar of chocolate and a supersize pack of Red Bull.

There are alternatives out there though, for those of you willing to look around. South Street especially is a veritable delight when it comes to kitsch food shops. The Guid Cheese Shop, L J Mellis and Kerachers Deli are some of the best ones in St Andrews. Independent retailers like these offer much more specialised and extensive range of produce than you generally find in supermarkets. The quality of their food far exceeds anything you can find pre-packaged in a supermarket.

You also have the option in most shops of being able to buy as much or as little of a product as you wish, unlike supermarkets where you can only scratch your head and decide if pre-packaged option A is better than pre-packaged option B. An added bonus of buying from independent retailers is that you are supporting local farms and small businesses that help make St Andrews the charming place it is.

However, there are downsides to buying from these small chains, otherwise, it seems more of us would be doing it. Generally you will pay that little bit more for quality and you will definitely need to shell out more for those hard-to-find items. For those on a budget, it can be quite expensive. Good cuts of meat can be as much as three or four pounds more than you would spend on meat in Tesco. Sometimes, especially as a student, you do need to decide between quality and quantity.

There is also the added hassle of having to cart yourself around several different shops to do the weekly shops. As much as Tesco sometimes feels like a military assault course, at least everything is under one roof. Once you’ve emerged wild-eyed and dazed onto Market Street, at least you know it’s over for another week.

Rachel Bell

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