For as long as I can remember I have done a weekly meal plan and then followed that up with a “big weekly shop”. I would buy all items for the whole week in one fell swoop, with only the occasional top-ups for things like milk or fresh fruit.
Recently I was finding myself getting totally overwhelmed with both meal planning and food shopping. I was feeling totally uninspired and we’d fallen into a rut of cooking the same meals over and over again. And it felt like what we were spending was going up every month!
So we decided it was time to switch things up a bit. And since we did we have actually saved money, eaten a much wider variety of food and waste a lot less time in the supermarket. The big weekly shop is out, and a more selective shopping routine has become the norm for us. So if you are feeling like I was and want to shake things up then here’s a few tips to keep in mind…
#1 – Consider using a meal subscription service
The biggest change we have made is by signing back up for a meal subscription box. We have previously used Hello Fresh but this time we opted for Gousto and get their family box for four meals a week. We had an money off promotion off all our boxes for the first month but enjoyed it so much that we have continued since. As a family we sit down the week before and look at the meals for the following week and choose them together. By getting Bella involved it means shes much more likely to eat the meals. There is always loads of choice and they do some great 10 minute meals which are perfect for us as a busy family.
It means that I only have to plan dinners for the other three nights and we’ll often end up eating out or with family one night a week. So of course it means a lot less food shopping is needed. Instead of doing a shop once a week, I will just grab essentials as and when I need them. This usually consists of cereal, bread, milk, yogurts, cheese, fresh fruit and any bits needed for the remaining meals.
And probably my favourite thing about meal subscription boxes is that it means SO MUCH LESS WASTE! All the ingredients are pre measured and they only send what you need. No more soggy veg rotting in the fridge or fancy ingredients you never use again so inevitably end up gathering dust at the back of a cupboard. I’m throwing a hell of a lot less away and pretty much all the packaging is recyclable too!
I’ve discovered that there are a huge range of different similar services to choose from, ranging from coffee provided by the likes Two Chimps Coffee to select cuts of meat from British farmers and even cleaning product subscription boxes too! So I am planning to trial a couple more at some point.
#2 – Always have back ups in
One of the biggest challenges of switching to a food subscription box and more occasional shopping is the fact that there is much less food in at any given time. In some ways, this is of course beneficial as I said before, it means much less waste. But what it also means is that if I have forgotten to get something out for dinner or plans change and we need something quick then I find myself reaching for the takeaway menu. In order to avoid this I have been trying to ensure I always have a back up dinner option in. Whether that’s a pizza in the freezer, some leftover chilli that can easily be defrosted or even things like tins of beans in the cupboard. Sometimes you can’t beat a beans on toast dinner!
#3 – Consider bulk buying for non-food essentials
Of course my weekly shop didn’t always just consist of food. There are plenty of other bits I would buy from the supermarket too. Things like cleaning products, toiletries, nappies, flowers, birthday cards etc. So since moving to more occasional shopping, to meet our family’s non-food needs I try to buy these things in bulk. I occasionally go to the wholesaler and stock up on things like kitchen roll, toilet roll and cleaning bits. But most of the time I just make sure I get extras when there are offers on when grabbing the other essentials. I always make sure to stock up on plenty of nappies, baby wipes and dog food especially. This saves me from having to make emergency trips out to grab them all the time when I run out!
#4 – Switch where you shop
Now I’ll be the first to admit, I was a bit of a supermarket snob and Sainsburys was always my go to. But I cancelled my delivery pass and have been trialling both Lidl and Asda recently. I really like Lidl but sometimes I just don’t have the time to go in store. So the Asda click and collect and home delivery is great when I’m super busy. Both are cheaper and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the choice and quality of the products. So it’s definitely worth trying somewhere new sometimes.
The benefits of switching away from the standard big weekly shop are huge, ranging from the opportunity to reduce food waste to the ability to shop in a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. If you want to make the change yourself, then hopefully the tips above will help you to make the transition and enjoy an entirely new shopping experience in future!
*Collaborative Post but all opinions are of course my own*