It’s a well-known fact that our diets typically take a turn for the worse once we leave home and commence student life. We may very well know what we should be eating – fresh fruit and veg, lean meat and fish, etc.- but the sad truth is that healthy food often comes at a price, especially in the supermarkets. Whereas convenience foods and ‘ready meals’ full of saturated fat, sugar, salt and cholesterol tend to be much cheaper and amenable to the stretched student budget. But eating these sorts of foods regularly can quickly build a foundation for long term health problems, such as diabetes and obesity. So what’s the solution?
The MOOR Market – described as “the Borough Market of the North” and with over 90 independent traders, here you will find everything you need for healthy eating, often at an incredibly low price!
Whilst some indoor markets can be crowded and dirty, the MOOR Market occupies a beautiful, attractive building (opposite Atkinsons on the Moor), with huge glass windows that create a bright interior. The place is always buzzing with activity, from locals collecting their weekly groceries to shoppers looking for that special present for a loved one. My first port of call is always the fruit and veg stands – the rainbow of different colours always inspires me with new recipe ideas. Here you will find all the ‘superfoods’ raved about in the magazines, but not at ‘super’ prices: ten avocados for £1? Two punnets of strawberries for £1.50? Yes please!
The butchers and fishmongers also offer exceptional variety and choice. As a seafood fan, I’m always enticed by the arrays of fish, so fresh that it glistens. Meanwhile, the butchers can cater for any need, whether it is a chicken for a roast dinner, packs of pre-marinated drumsticks for a barbecue or a steak for a special occasion. If you’re pushed for time, you can pick up a cooked chicken at a fraction of the price of Nandos, or a classic Pork Pie. Vegetarians looking for their protein fix will be spoilt for choice at the Nut Bar, where you can buy bargain bags of single nut types, or bespoke mixes of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, it’s easy to be inspired with new ideas. The ethnic stores groan with arrays of spices, seasonings, herbs and exotic vegetables. You’ll find the ingredients for every cuisine in the world including Jamaican, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian and African. But if you find cooking a foreign dish from scratch daunting, you can pick up a freshly-made version from the café/takeaway corner, which offers everything from chow mein, kebabs, peri-peri chicken, Indian curries, spare ribs and even burgers from the famous Twisted Burger company. As for something sweet for afterwards, why not grab a Portuguese tart from Cakelicious or a treat from Turner’s Bakery (who do the best caramel slices I’ve ever seen…).
Of course the MOOR market is about MUCH more than food….got a shoe which needs fixing? A key that needs cutting? A dress which needs altering? Nails that need a manicure? Whether you want a cheese grater, fortune cookies or a new rug – you can find it here, all under one roof! Best of all, everything you buy supports the local economy and helps independent, hard-working traders. For me, being able to banter with the stall-keepers is one of the best parts of shopping at the MOOR market and I’ve found them to be a good source of wise cooking advice!
Here are my top tips to get the most out of shopping at the MOOR market:
- Fruit and vegetables are often cheapest in bulk – so you can quickly end up with a lot of heavy bags! To save your back, do invest in a shopping trolley – everyone has one and there are so many fashionable designs these days that you’re certain to find one to suit your style.
- Whilst it is easy to get carried away, do think about what you actually need, so that you don’t end up buying food that you will ultimately waste. You can always negotiate with the trader – for instance, if there is a deal for ten oranges for £1, you can ask if you can have five for 50p.
- If you like Jamaican food, try to go on a Friday or a Saturday when the Jamaican Pop-Up kitchen is open – the Jerk Chicken is my favourite!
- The market opening times are 8.00-5.30, Monday – Saturday (Closed Sunday). However, many of the traders tend to start packing down from 4.30 onwards – so don’t leave your visit till the last minute!