Food shopping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. While some people like nothing more than browsing the aisles, for many of us there’s nothing worse than the thought of trawling up and down a supermarket, fighting through the crowds. If you’re in charge of your household’s food shop, it can seem as though you’re never away from the supermarket. Whether it’s popping in after work to pick up some pasta, or trekking there every Saturday afternoon for a weekly stock up, it’s an inconvenient, boring, and oddly stressful household chore.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. By making a few small, simple adjustments to your routine, you can keep your cupboards stocked with delicious, healthy food, while also freeing up more time to do the things you actually want to do. The tips listed below, from fresh meat delivery to advice on when to shop, will help to make food shopping less of a hassle.
Make a checklist
Let’s start with an obvious step: make a checklist of what you’re going to buy. Everyone knows that shopping is much more straightforward when you have a list to work from, but you don’t always have to draw up a fresh list before every trip.
Keep a list of your most frequently bought foods – your essentials – pinned to your fridge, so you and your family can check them off as supplies run low. It might just be milk, bread and coffee, or it might be the ingredients to your most frequently cooked dishes. Either way, checking them before every shopping trip is a good habit to get into, and will save you from having to nip back to the shops later when you realise you’ve forgotten the dog food.
Plan your route
If you’ve lived in your current home for longer than a few months, chances are you know the layout of your local supermarket like the back of your hand. Use that knowledge to your advantage by organising your food shop by aisle.
You’ll be amazed at the amount of time this can cut from your trip. Try to stick to the outer areas of the store where possible, avoiding unnecessary aisles altogether. This will save you from wondering aimlessly down the magazine aisle, and could save you money by keeping you away from the garish temptation of the junk food displays on Aisle 3.
Meat box delivery
Let’s be honest with ourselves: supermarket meat isn’t the best quality meat you can buy. Everyone knows the difference between biting into a prime cut from the local butcher’s and the cheap stuff from the big shop at the end of the road. That difference is flavour, and fighting through a busy supermarket just to get your hands on a piece of subpar meat can be a disheartening experience.
That’s why you should consider buying meat online. Companies like the Dorset Meat Company bring high quality, ethically sourced meat prepared by master butchers right to your front door, whenever you need it. All their meat, from chicken and burgers to sausages and venison steaks, comes from 20 small, family-run farms in Dorset and Wiltshire, where the free range animals are slowly raised on a 100% grass diet. This results in meat that is packed with natural vitamins and minerals and, most importantly, flavour.
Meat boxes are affordable and convenient. You can create your own meat box full of the cuts you love, or choose one of their pre-constructed meat boxes, such as the Family BBQ Meat Box, or Student Survival Meat Box. Either set up a regular delivery or order as and when you need it. You’ll soon wonder why you ever settled for less.
Keep bags and vouchers handy
Shopping is stressful enough without digging around in your pockets to find the coupons or gift cards you know you have. Similarly, reaching the till only to realise you’ve left your reusable bags in the kitchen is another thing that can make food shopping more stressful. Paying an additional £1 with every shop can really add up if you go once or twice a week.
So make an effort to keep your vouchers, gift cards and shopping bags handy for every supermarket trip. Keep cards and coupons in their own wallet or pocket, and keep all your shopping bags in the boot of your car, so you can grab them before heading inside. It’ll save you time, money, and the resentment of the people queuing behind you.
Don’t shop alone
Unless you’re a single person household, try to do the shopping with someone else. Whether it’s a spouse, sibling or flatmate, shopping in pairs means you can divide and conquer; splitting the list between you based on the store’s layout, so one person isn’t darting from one end of the supermarket to the other. Try not to bring the kids with you though, if you can avoid it. Even the most angelic tot is likely to get testy surrounded by all those tempting toys and treats, and you may find yourself spending more than you intended in order to keep them calm.
Get some wheels
If you live close to the shops, walking to them is a good idea. Who doesn’t need more fresh air and exercise, after all? But lugging back armfuls of heavy shopping bags is enough to make you regret your noble intentions.
That’s why you should consider a wheelie shopping bag. No longer the preserve of little old ladies in raincoats, there are now a wide range of stylish designs and models to make your shopping experience a less exhausting one.
Stock up on essentials
How do Americans do it? You see them all the time in TV shows and films, coming back from the supermarket with only one or two paper bags, perhaps with an artfully placed baguette or bit of greenery poking out the top. Whereas here you are, red-faced and stressed out, with a car boot full of things you didn’t know you needed.
The secret is planning. America is such a big country, with some people living miles and miles from the nearest shop, that Americans have learned how to stock up. In fact, every rural community knows this secret, so take a leaf out of their tried-and-tested book. Stock up on all your long-life and non-perishable goods – tinned food, snacks, pasta, rice, dry pet food, cereal, etc – in one or two big monthly shops. Then all you need to do when you next head to the supermarket is restock your perishables, which will mostly be dairy, bread and greens.
Go at less busy times
If your schedule and job allow it, try to shop away from peak times. Avoid the busy weekends, early evenings and lunchtimes altogether by sacrificing a late Monday evening or Thursday afternoon. You might hate yourself for getting up an hour early every Tuesday, but you’ll thank yourself when you’ve got an entire uninterrupted Sunday stretched out before you.
Lastly, when all else fails and you simply cannot face the idea of another trip to the supermarket, it’s time to order online. All major supermarkets offer an online order service. Get in early and set up a regular delivery, and you may never have to set foot in Asda, Lidl, Tesco or Waitrose ever again. Now wouldn’t that be lovely?