I love to food shop. I don’t know why, but I could spend hours in the grocery store. I am a go up and down every isle person, no matter what. Times when I don’t have a list, which is rare, it helps to remind me of what I need. Plus, how will I know if they got something new if I am not looking. I pick up new ingredients, read, think about what I could do with it, and then decide if I should get it. The answer is usually not this week as I also like to stick to a budget. This is the only time that I do not like food shopping. When it comes time to pay. Why can’t I have the food and the money? It is so unfair I tell ya.
This is why I shop online. I can food shop, but in my pajamas. It is like shopping online and filling your imaginary basket with things you want and then not checking out. It feeds my need to shop, without going crazy. Because I am crazy however, I start my weekly order a few days before I need to have it submitted. The reason I do this is because I am weird. I start by looking at all the sales and specials that week and putting everything my heart desires in my basket. My total is usually well over £100, which is above my usual limit. Then the next day I will look and see what deals are the best in my basket and start thinking of meals I could make. After I jot down a ton of ideas, I figure out what sounds good the week ahead as we like to mix it up with our menu, and then I start pairing down my food wish list to what we actually need to make our meals happen.
It sounds like a process, and it is for me. Because I am odd and I like to see everything. I look for cheaper options, I figure out what our outgoings are that week and if it is high, then I try to keep our meals as cheap as possible. I even look at the weather forcast! I don’t want to plan chili on a 70 degree day and have a salad when it has been grey and rainy. Everyone in my house knows the menu is set in stone. Because it is planned like a military operation and it is perfect. Whatever makes you happy so they say!
I had mentioned in my chalkboard menu post about my meal planning, and I had a few questions about how I go about it. You do not need to be insane like me and spend days, or look at weather forcasts, or get all excited about the new blueberry pancakes they have and add 3 to your basket to then later realize that is a little excessive. No. What you do is just take 15 minutes to really think about what you would like to eat, when you would like to eat it, what you already have, and your budget. It sounds like a lot but really it is just a few minutes of planning before you place your order, or head to the store. Super doable I promise!
I start a fresh page in my notebook every week which I have beside me when I start shopping on day one. This would work if you were going to the grocery store too. The first thing I do is write down what I have in my freezer. I am talking your main meal makers like chicken, mince, pork tenderloin and so on. If I have something like puff pastry I want to use then I would write that too. Or the tin of tuna in the cupbord? Write that down too. Anything you can make a meal out of, write it down. Then I brainstorm what meals I could make and write down my ideas. Then I start shopping! While looking at what is on sale I write down my recipe ideas and so on. In the end I have a basket full of food and a ton of ideas!
Now it is time to pair it down as we are doing a weekly shop, not a monthly one. I can get carried away. Alex sometimes chooses this moment to look over and I can see his eyes nearly pop out of his head, until I tell him not to worry as I have not paired it down yet. This would be when I think about my weekly budget. If I can have my weekly shop below £80, I am happy. Below £70 and I feel like I deserve a metal. Some weeks I can do a stock up shop and spend £100 but that would include atleast 2 weeks of dinners, so it is not to bad. Also be aware that this is our entire budget which includes every morsel of food my family of four will consume in a week, plus toilettries, cleaning supplies and what ever else we need. And the reason we have a budget? Because like I said, I want the food and the money. I like a good deal and it kills me to think I wasted money on food when I could have been smart and got a budget friendly shop AND the awesome lamp I spotted earlier online.
I pick the 7 meals we would like to eat from my ideas and usually it is a mix of what we have in the freezer, and what is on a to good to pass up sale. I usually end up with 7 meals and still some items in my freezer that can roll into next weeks ideas. Sometimes there are amazing deals and I can get more than 7 days in my order. Then I add whatever ingredients we need to make that meal happen into my basket and we are done! With the shopping part anyway. So now you have your food. Now all you need to do is think about when to eat your food.
Get yourself, and your haul, home. Take everything out and pile up any fresh ingredients you bought. Get a small piece of paper and write down your expiration dates. This litterally takes seconds. I only write dates of main meal makers, or things I know will go out before the week ends like bread rolls for burgers.
This week the only fresh stuff I got that needed writing down was some cooked chicken for our cobb salad, fresh pizzas, turkey mince, and naan breads. The numbers next to each are the dates to be used by. Then I put everything away and grab my original notebook with my scribbles.
As you can see, I write the days and dates on the top. The bottom left row was my list of things I had already (which was only chicken thighs, spaghetti sauce I had made and frozen, and some mince. But I ended up getting turkey mince for meatloaf and leaving the mince I had for another weekly meal.) and the bottom right row was where I jotted down my ideas. As I mentally used up ingredients, I would cross them off. Once I have my expiration dates, I write down what we are eating when! Even though the pizzas had an earlier expiration date than the chicken for the salads, I made the salads first as I wanted the lettuce and whatnots as fresh as possible. Also, pizza on Saturday made more sense for us as I knew this would be a busy day with not a lot of time to make a meal. Figure out which days you have more time, and which days you don’t. Spending a few minutes thinking about it now saves you hours of wondering what you are going to make for dinner later in the week. You know already that your meal is planned and when you open the fridge to start dinner, everything you need is right there.
Lastly, make your menu something to be proud of. Stick it on the fridge or make a menu board. Whatever floats your dinner eating boat. Let the whole family know what to expect. It is fun to see who looks forward to what meal. Oh man we are a weird family! Oh, and this weeks total order cost us £68.75. Where is my gold star? Booya.
Recipes I will post next week include pizzadillas, turkey meatloaf, and chicken kebabs. I didn’t take any pictures of our cobb salad but I will share the dressing I made as I have been trying really hard not to drink it this week. That is how good it is. We are already on batch number two. Yum.
- Write down what you already have and want to use
- Look at what is on sale. Even if you don’t shop online, you can still look online to see what sales are on or coming up in your local store, usually
- Write down what sounds good for dinner
- Decide on atleast 7 meals, if not more if your budget or sales allow
- Create your list with what you need to make those meals happen
- Get thee to thy store and shop
- Dump your gattherings on your counter and write down any expiration dates you need
- Create your menu for the week ahead!
- Remember to think about what days you need quick meals and what days you have more time to spend
- Enjoy knowing you have it all done, nothing will go to waste, and everything you need is hanging out in your fridge