Friday, 21 May 2010

Shopping Lists

I like to do an online shop before actually heading out to the supermarket.

This sounds a bit strange, but it really does save me money. I try not to set a budget straight away, but instead flick through my recipe books and decide on what to have throughout the week. I like to vary what I eat and find that preparing a menu means that we don't have pasta twice in a row, or five days in a week with meals containing tinned tomatoes.

I aim to not repeat a dish with each of these ingredients more than twice a week: rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, gnocchi. Otherwise it feels as though we've had no variation.

Then I go online and price up everything I need to buy. The good thing about doing this is that you see exactly how much you need to spend - and don't add in the naughty temptations. I then look at the amount it costs and allow myself to round up to the nearest £5. Then I go through and find any treats I'd like.

It makes you realise that you're not going to need the 2-for-£7 pizzas, and buy not buying the 2nd, you've probably got another £3 to spend on some ice-cream, or a bottle of wine, instead. Are you really going to use all the parmesan in that tub? Or are you better saving that 50p and just buying the small packet?

Remember - the shops want us to spend more. Don't deny yourself treats but don't buy things you don't need and will eventually waste.

I like to do my menu for the week on a Saturday afternoon. It's the one time of the week I get to myself and I curl up on my sofa with Saturday Kitchen on the telly and my recipe books strewn all over the floor. It's not at all stressful. Quite the opposite in fact. And looking at all those pictures in the books gets you really excited about the great food you'll be eating next week - and because you'll be looking forward to it, and know exactly what you're doing, you'll be less likely to think *eugh, I don't know what to do for dinner.... let's just get a chinese*... and blow £15.

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