Are you a smart grocery shopper? Simply take this online quiz to find out!
When grocery shopping, do you:
- Arrive at the supermarket straight after work, with only the most vague of plans to buy something for dinner, only to find that the whole place is already a war-zone of yummy mummies fighting sweaty businessmen for the last bag of organic quinoa. You go home with whatever overpriced ready meal you can grab as you run screaming from the premises.
- Go to the big retail park outside of town at the weekend. A shopping list in your filthy hand, you still leave with mounds of unnecessary impulse-purchased nonsense. You get home and sigh, and light one of your ten new scented candles to make yourself feel better.
- Get your mum to do it for you because you’re a big fat waster and can’t do anything right. But at least the fridge is always full and there’s a never-ending supply of Twixes in the cupboard.
- Do the Smart Thing, which instantly makes everyone impressed with you. Strangers smile at you in the street and men and women alike are attracted to your aura of intelligence.
This is the Smart Thing:
- Choose your meals for the week and ensure their ingredients have a reasonable degree of overlap.
- Buy the ingredients online.
- Profit from increased money, time, and energy. Take up those writing classes you always meant to. As Ace of Base said, life is a flower / so precious in your hand. Go and enjoy it now that you’re free.
“Math is hard, let’s go shopping.” – Barbie
Grocery shopping on the internet is handy on a number of levels: you are able to have a week’s worth of shopping dropped in your kitchen at your convenience; you can choose from a wider selection of goods than your local supermarket offers; and if you do it right you are a lot less likely to be tempted to make impulse purchases.
Because you’re not going to queue beside a big pile of chocolate on offer when you buy from a supermarket website, they’re trying new ways to get you to maximise what you stick in your trolley. For instance, when you hit the checkout button Sainsbury’s reminds you of all your regular purchases that you haven’t tried to buy this time. This is pretty clever, as unlike impulse purchases of things that you don’t really want, there’s a good chance these are things that you missed out.
To counter your nigh-uncontrollable impulses, start by planning out what you’ll buy in advance. One way to do this is to pick out a week’s worth of recipes and ensuring there is enough ingredient overlap to save you money. Most supermarket chains have deals on buying meat in larger quantities, so picking recipes that share ingredients helps you save a lot.
If you’re dieting, sites like BBC Good Food are great because most of their recipes have the calorie counts listed. You can also filter your search results by type of meal as well as how many calories they have. Most of the recipes are very simple and easy to follow and don’t require much preparation. Plus, if you use recipes with long-life ingredients such as tinned or dried goods, it’s even easier to save. Especially if you similar meals over successive weeks.
Take it to the next level with this one weird tip
Not satisfied with your savings? How about this: choose meals that you can reheat the next day for lunch. People will be so impressed with your genius that you will be the sole point of discussion around the water cooler.
Here are some meals I like to make. Note the overlapping ingredients that you can buy in bulk:
- Chicken and chorizo jambalaya – chicken, chopped tomatoes, chorizo, rice, chicken stock
- Easiest ever paella – chorizo, rice, chicken stock, prawns
- Chicken fennel and tomato ragout – chicken, chopped tomatoes, chicken stock
- Moroccan-style chicken stew – chicken, chicken stock.
- Superfast prawn noodles – prawns
- Chilli con carne – chopped tomatoes, rice
I like to leave one day empty and either get a ready meal deal or splash out on a naughty takeaway. It’s important to have a cheat day!
One major drawback is that you don’t get access to reductions on items that have reached their expiry date. But if you’re looking to stay organised this system works well for planning your week in advance.
Title image by TheeErin. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license.