I am currently the butt of a facebook joke (of my own creation really) about the choice of where I do my grocery shopping.
A few months back I decided to introduce more regular meal planning and a consequently a more regular grocery shop in order to save money. After first getting married, Geoff and I lived in a little town house (still one of our favourites) that was just behind a main street and within walking distance of an interesting IGA Supermarket. We also had no pantry. It was great – lots of disposable income back then, but it taught us some bad habits. Because really, the more often you visit the supermarket, the more you tend to buy. What’s another $5 on this and that? It adds up fast. I also have more recently been looking at how to buy fruit and veges in ways that aren’t buying them from the big chain supermarkets. I love the practicality of the big chain. No seriously – it makes it easy but it’s not always that nice or that cheap. A few facebook competitions later of winning free fruit and veg from my local shop inspired me. I now try to do a shop at a fruit and veg place and I go there first. If you are eating reasonably healthy meals (meat and veg) then you can do almost ALL your shop at a decent place like that.
What I do.
Sunday nights I meal plan. Sometimes it’s vague, sometimes it means we eat less variety especially because I build in a few meals that can be made in double and frozen. This is wildly convenient because I am a lazy cook and adding extra ingredients to a meal is much easier than cooking another meal. I only meal plan four nights, because realistically our Fridays through Sundays are all over the place. We go out to friends/have people round etc. There are always things in the freezer if desperate or good old b’rinner… takeaway. I try to make meals that overlap somewhat in ingredients (eg. herbs… who ever uses and entire bunch in one dish?) or that will use up things I have in the fridge.
On Mondays I shop. I go to a fruit/veg and then a supermarket and sometimes a butcher (if there happens to be one nearby) – I still haven’t really worked out buying stuff from a butcher -don’t pay enough attention to meat prices and I try not to let meat make it into every meal anyway – too expensive and so not necessary.
I don’t love grocery shopping, but it’s better now. I shop with a list and rarely deviate. I shop on a regular day. My mother thinks I’m mad, but hey she’s not especially grand at organisation. And I try not to go other times during the week.
The change in cooking habits and shopping has helped me save money. How do I know this? Well, I used to spend closer to $150-$200 a week on the ‘big shop’ and now I can do in a well planned ‘cheap week’ for $70-80.
I still buy chocolate and things I shouldn’t have. I still often opt for the nice yoghurt (at least then it gets eaten) and the nicer bread. But hey you do have to start somewhere and know your limits.
As for the butt of the joke. After our move I have been looking for somewhere that is a) not too far from a decent fruit/veg place (if you can get 85% of your stuff there you save A LOT) b) is easy to get in and out of. I have a two year old who doesn’t like riding in trolleys and I don’t want to stuff around with crappy car-parking or walking too far because quite frankly I don’t love groceries and I have better things to do with my time. The better organised and bigger the shop is (in terms of chain supermarkets) the easier it is, the quicker it is. The more likely I am to cook to freeze because I have more time at home. I appreciate well organised things and dingy supermarkets don’t do it for me.
And that friends is why I am still in reconnaissance mode.
This has also been a slow but achievable part of aligning life with being a bit more sensible with where our money goes - there is still a long way to go.