Grocery Shopping: It’s All In The Planning

shopping, spending, till slip

Weekly grocery shopping? It’s all in the planning. Since going part-time, I’ve been keeping track of our weekly food and household spending. This allows me to benchmark our household spend prior to starting this process with our grocery spend now and also monitor product price rises.

Having a menu of meals in my head rather than a list of items is also really effective instead of bulk buying for a nuclear winter! Knowing I only have to wait a week to buy more groceries stops me from over-purchasing and I have a much clearer idea of what’s actually in our food cupboards. Some weeks I’ve overspent but then withdraw less or am more frugal the following week.

Leftovers Night: Weekly Grocery Shopping

Try only eating leftovers one night a week have planned meals the other five. I also know people who just eat food from the freezer one week of each month. Use what’s in the cupboard instead of buying additional items. There is no right or wrong so be creative and have fun cooking. It isn’t all about buying expensive ingredients only a professional chef could source. I’ve mastered the art of finding a substitute for something instead of popping to the shop for yet another ingredient.

Having a good palate and understanding flavors has helped and I’ve always been an instinctive cook. I have developed the confidence to go ‘off piste’ and substitutes ingredients I know work for as long as I can remember. My husband takes the mickey out of me for doing this. But I can count on one hand the number of times he’s complained about a meal tasting a bit strange or not how it should. We’re also eating less and less meat. We’d much rather eat the best we can afford once or twice a week than cheap cuts every day that we don’t know the provenance of.

Books to inspire you if you’re stumped for ideas: Weekly Grocery Shopping

The Art of the Larder by Claire Thomson

River Cottage Love Your Leftovers - Recipes for the resourceful cook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Even the dog is benefitting from our frugal diet. The raw meat we feed him (from a specialist pet shop) is 25% the cost of supermarket mince and contains the bones (minced), cartilage and other bits of a chicken so it’s a superfood as far as we’re concerned. We supplement his diet with linseed oil, vegetables and occasionally rice, pearl barley and other things, but ultimately we are saving more than half what it would cost to feed him kibble or other ‘dog food’ and he is much healthier for it. I discuss this in greater deal in Antics of an Afghan Street Hound: The Unusual Life Of Darakht The Nowzad Rescue.

Food Planning: Weekly Grocery Shopping

A weekly food planner comes in really useful for organizing meals, particularly when we’ve hosted foreign language students with varying dietary needs. I don’t write a meal plan every month but even having one in my head helps, as each item on the plan for that week is multi-purpose or contributes to more than one meal.

Bulk Purchase: Weekly Grocery Shopping

It’s also worthwhile buying in bulk when you can. So far we’ve done this for washing-up liquid (plant-based and dermatologically tested), distilled white vinegar, Bicarbonate of Soda, toilet roll, soap, Soda Crystals and Borax substitute (Dripak do a three-pack). But it isn’t just about the monetary cost of course. Environmental impact is a major factor and I constantly felt guilty about the amount of plastic we would then need to recycle before we started buying in bulk.

I’ve chosen not to add bulk purchases to our monthly groceries spreadsheet, as until we’ve been doing this for a year it’s difficult to gauge expenditure. We can then see what needs to be bought again in a 12-month period or will last into 2019.

Our Superfoods – some suggestions

A Whole Chicken
  • image of chicken in potChicken & Mushroom Pie
  • Sticky Chicken Rice Bowl
  • Lunch for two/three days
  • Stock for Soup (recipe)
  • Stock for Risotto (recipe)
  • Chicken Goujons (with frozen breadcrumbs from stale crackers so already seasoned)
  • Skin and other unidentifiable bits are given to the dog
  • Bones go into the food compost bin

image of butter in dishAside from its obvious uses, butter is a great food source for blending. Here is one of my favorite recipes for using up both the last of a slab of butter and herbs:

  • Chop up your leftover herbs in a food processor.
  • Add a 250g block of butter and whizz again until the herbs are well-blended
  • Grab a piece of greaseproof paper or another environmentally-friendly parchment
  • Spoon mixture onto paper and roll into a long cigar-shape with the palms of your hands
  • Option 1: put in the freezer to be chopped at a later date as and when required
  • Option 2: Slice into discs and use straight from the freezer

I have two eggs for breakfast every weekday morning (virtually) as being pure protein they’re so filling. Not only that but they’re a cheap, versatile and highly nutritious food source.

I don’t recall having any short-dated eggs as they’re so popular in our house. On the rare occurrences we do, I freeze them. One egg white will roughly fill two cubes of an ice-cube tray. They can then be used individually as and when you need them.


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