Day 23: Come Dine With Me

Hi all,
On Tuesday you set a new record for the most number of visitors to my site in one day. Plus, lots of you have spoken to me face-to-face about my blog. I’m really glad that so many of you are enjoying it (or maybe just relating to it).

On to today’s topic:

I have a confession to make. It’s been quite a while since I last made a shopping list.

It doesn’t usually occur to me to buy food in advance; I tend to pick up a ready meal as I rush home from work, to eat as soon as possible when I get home.

When trying to save my pennies, though, I decided I needed to cut back on food, and drawing up a shopping list seemed like the best place to start.

Now, then, I suppose I have some explaining to do here. Despite having just said that I eat ready-meals after work, it hasn’t always been this way.

My university friends know me as the girl who baked pies, quiches and cakes from scratch.

Starting work, with long hours and an hour’s commute each way, transformed the way I eat. For the worse. I used to keep a strict budget, planning my food to the penny. In my first year at university (2006/7), I stuck to £14.50 per week, which, even then, was fairly economical. In 2012 I spend a lot more than that, although I suppose inflation and rising food prices have also played their part in the explosion of my food receipts.

When I had the time to devote to preparing food, I wouldn’t have dreamed of buying convenience food. Bagged salad or pre-chopped vegetables just seemed ludicrously profligate. You may as well set fire to your cash.

As my free time diminished, my inclination to chop, slice and dice fell likewise. A packet of ready to stir-fry vegetables became not just understandable but the rational thing to do.

Back to this week’s shopping, then. For the next three weeks I’m at college, so I wanted nutritionally balanced meals, which would keep me going all day long. Unlike the days when I’m at work, I now have to organise three meals a day, which have to be prepared and fitted in around a full day of study. The other concern, in a blog called Shopaholic Cuts Back, is, of course, money!

My first attempt is probably a bit of a joke to most people. I know that my best friend Claire, for one, won’t be impressed with my efforts. At least I’ve never been drawn to brand names when food shopping, so everything on the list is supermarket own-brand. The issue, though, is the content. I automatically opt for Fairtrade bananas, free-range chicken and responsibly sourced salmon. The vegetables I choose still include a pre-chopped stir-fry mix, as well as asparagus (one of the more middle-class vegetables?). I’m even picky when it comes to fruit; I really dislike traditional (and cheaper) British varieties, like apples and pears, but I balk at the cost of the more exotic fruits.

I’m fully aware that lots of people would look at my shopping list and assume that I’ve made no effort at all. However, I still think it’s a start. Pre-planning has definitely saved me money, when compared to buying lunch out and dinner in a microwaveable packet. I hope that by factoring in my nutritional and energy requirements, I’ll also feel better, and less likely to make that chocolate run come 3pm.

If you want to see my first shopping list, and plan for the week’s meals, you can click on the “Shopping List” tab above. I’ll be back in two days, when I’ll tell you about something important I’ve learned while writing this blog. Thanks for reading, folks. xxx

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