28 June 2013

Today is Shopping day

I just love these 6 rules for food - they fit perfectly with the Cheapskates way of living.

I love shopping. Looking at new things, trying them on, umming and aahhing and ooohing over the colour or fabric or style (or price :o). But that's not the type of shopping I do today.

Today is grocery shopping day. And it's an epic adventure that starts early in the morning, before I take Hannah to school.

I like being a stay at home working mum, so I need to keep an eye on our spending and our family budget so that I can stay a stay at home working mum. One area of our budget that I can control quite easily is the food and grocery shopping. I know that I have $350 to spend each month and that's it. I can go under (not often but I try) but I can't go over. Ever.

Going over budget means that some other area of our spending has to suffer and that's not good. So I have a grocery shopping plan that I've developed over the years that works for me and my family.

Back to early on a Friday morning: while the kids and Wayne are getting themselves up and dressed and fed I'm searching through the dim, dark recesses of the pantry and the barren icy wasteland that is our freezer and fridge  to see what we haven't eaten and what I need to buy. I put what I find on my shopping list. If it's not on the list it won't get bought so everything has to go on the list.

I work with two shopping lists - one for spring/summer and one for autumn/winter. We tend to need the same basic groceries all year round, with a few seasonal variations (more pineapple in summer, more rice and rolled oats in winter) so making up a new shopping list is easy - I just print off the list and then tick the items I need to buy.

I'm not one for fancy menu plans but I do like to have an idea of what dishes I'll be cooking during the month (and you can see my monthly meal plans in the Member's Centre) so I usually scribble them on the back of the shopping list.  This next month we'll have
*cream cheese patties and vegetables,
*a roast chicken dinner,
* steak and salad,
*roast beef with veggies, 
*chicken & mushroom spaghetti 
*fish cakes, wedges and salad

I haven't worked out what else we'll be having, but the freezer is full, the pantry will be full this afternoon and there are plenty of herbs, spices and other fillers on hand, there are even some veggies in the garden.

There is not much on the shopping list this month food-wise. The only thing apart from topping up the dairy and fruit and veg that I need to buy is fish. Everything else is already on hand, just waiting to be turned into a gastronomic delight.

After I've written up the food requirements, I check cleaning supplies and toiletries. And the toilet paper stash. Wayne has an inexplicable fear of us running out of loo paper so our stash never gets under at least two twelve packs. In twenty-four years we have never, ever run out of loo paper but it's his pet fear so I humour him. One of the kids has just opened a twelve pack so loo paper is on the list.

By now it's time to take Hannah to school and hit Aldi. I try to get there as early as I can so I can have a quick look at the markdowns and see if anything tickles my fancy. And because I can get a car park reasonably close to the store,  not that I dislike exercise or anything, but those trolleys are just too hard to control when they are full.

After the supermarket it's the greengrocer. Our local has the loveliest fruit and veggies and on Fridays he always has bunches of lovely fresh flowers that look so nice on my dining room table. It's actually a local orchard that does a roaring trade in fruit and veg and is good for bulk buys and has a wonderful organic range too.

Then, if meat is on the list (and the specials are good) the butcher. I won't be visiting the butcher for a little while, I did a bulk shop on Sunday at Tasman meats. I spent $187.72 and have 67 meals -  that's just $2.79 a meal for the meat component and enough for two months - I am very happy with that. I managed to get legs of lamb, mince, chicken fillets, steak, corned beef and roasting beef so we'll have plenty of variety. And no one will go hungry or miss out, I plan meals so meat, fish or chicken is the side dish and vegetables make up the bulk of the meal.

After all that it's usually close to lunchtime so home I trot to get it all lugged into the kitchen and put away.

One little thing I do that has saved my bacon many a time is check each thing I put away off my shopping list. This double checks that I bought everything on my list and that I brought everything home. I can't tell you how many times I've arrived home and put everything away only to realise the soap is missing or the crackers aren't in the cupboard. If something is missing I can call the shop straight away and arrange to pick it up later.

If I have been super efficient I have time to sit down with a cuppa and a sandwich to update my spreadsheet before it's time to go and get the Hannah.  And that's my once-a-month Friday shopping day.
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