It's been a few weeks now since the very lovely Caitriona of www.wholesomeireland.com did an amazing guest post for us and its high time I reported back on how her way of thinking has changed the modus operandi of my household....
But first, I have to confess that I'd come around to Caitriona's way of thinking way before she guested with us. Back when I first joined 'the Twitter' one of her tweets drew my attention to her own blog post on the subject. Therefore, months later when the Dinner Ladies was born, I just knew I wanted to arm our followers with her knowledge.
I know very few people that are not stuck for cash these days. We are all trying to spend less and on our beloved parenting website Rollercoaster, thread after thread is created asking for advice on how to cut down on the dreaded grocery bill. And yet, I can almost guarantee you two things - the first is that each of these households throw out huge amounts of food every week and the second is that very few of these households could tell you whats in either their freezer or their store cupboard at this very minute.
These are the same people that trawl through the supermarket every Friday, aisle by aisle letting their eyes dictate what they buy. They buy by tradition, firing six-pack tins of beans and breakfast cereals into the trolley because well 'thats what we buy every week'. Then theres the dreaded BOGOF offers which tempt shoppers towards items they don't need with the added lure of being 'good value'.
With Caitriona's way of thinking, the weekly shop practically becomes extinct. Yes you'll need your fresh fruit, veg and meat, and yes, you'll need to go to the supermarket but your days of buying stuff you don't need will be over. Why? Well because you'll know exactly what you DO need! You'll know because you'll have a list - in fact you'll probably have two lists, one of what you have and one of what you need. You'll shop armed with the latter and the former you'll use to make meal plans for the week. In fact, since the days of the list, I tend to shop with my eyes on the floor, refusing to look up until I know I'm in front of the item I need to buy...
You need to know what you have, and I know, in our case, where we fall down on this is our freezer. The dreaded chest freezer does not entice one to check its contents very often, in our case practically requiring someone to hold you by the ankles why you delve in head first. So to combat this, I have pinned a whiteboard next to the freezer and the concept is simple - strike off as you use, add as you buy. It's not rocket science.
And neither is one final tip (coming from me this time) Stop being precious about food. 'Oh I need red peppers for that and I only have green' I want to make Lasagna but I've only turkey mince in the freezer' - for the love of God - use what you have!!! You're cooking for family, not Tom Doorley (to be fair I'd say he'd agree with me - right Tom?) And actually Tom & Johann Doorley have written an entire cookery book showcasing fantastic recipes on a low budget (see our review of same). I know some of my friends don't agree, but recipes are an approximation (ok, I make an exception for baking). Use your imagination, use your judgement, but above all USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
So go to Caitriona's blog, print out her stock lists and get cracking. There's really no excuse not to. It will change your life, your eating and your pocket. (For another fellow foodblogger's take on her conversion by Caitriona see Mammy's Kitchen's post on the same topic)
Above all, remember that meal planning means you EAT BETTER! Less last minute takeaways, less wastage and less spent on last minute dashes to the shop. And anyhow, it's more fun trying to work meals around what you actually already posesss....
After all, look what I found in my recent stock take, can't wait for Saturday night!!!