Doing a big shop can be overwhelming at the best of times, especially at 4pm on a Sunday, when Aldi’s queues are longer than Walkabout on a Wednesday night. Meal planning is key to stop you from coming home with a load of garbage. Plan 3 – 4 dinners for the week (some of them you’ll have to have twice), something for breakfasts and a couple of lunch ideas. (Tinned soup is an easy one if you’re feeling lazy). By planning broadly what you’re going to eat throughout the week, you can list exactly what you need for each meal.
Stock up on Basics
There’s nothing worse than going to make a spag bowl and realising you don’t have any tinned tomatoes. ‘Basics’ means something different to everyone, but things like onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes, pasta, rice and a loaf of bread are always good to have on hand.
It might be the least sexy sounding thing ever, but bulk cooking is kinda life changing. And it’s a whole lot easier than it sounds. If you’re going to make a chilli, pasta sauce or some curry, just make double! Put a couple of extra portions in the fridge or the freezer and take it in for lunch the next day.
Invest in Spices
Spices are the base to any good meal, but buying them as you need them is annoying and time consuming. Living with other people is a good way to spread the cost, buy some of the basic spices and some of your favourites at the start of the year as a flat, so they’re always on hand to help with any cooking. The spices you choose is completely up to you (and a bit controversial if you’ve seen the latest Leedsfess arguments), but good ones to start with are: salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, basil, oregano and chilli powder.
Have Something Ready for a Quick Meal
Sometimes you just want to come home and not have to cook. While takeaways are a brilliant option for these situations, they’re also incredibly expensive. When doing your weekly shop, make sure to buy a frozen pizza or some kind of ready meal that you can have on the evening that you don’t feel like cooking.
Learn Some Veggie Meals
Meat is expensive, unhealthy and bad for the planet. Even if you’re not veggie, it’s worth learning some vegetarian meals you can make if the budgets a bit tight that week. Pasta meals are good, but even something like a bean chilli or vegetarian Mexican are so easy to make and just as nice.
Freeze your Food
There’s no point in doing a weekly shop and cooking meals everyday if you’re going to end up throwing it all away. Pretty much anything can be frozen straight from the weekly shop. If you eat a lot of toast but can’t get through a whole loaf in 4 days, freeze your bread. Meat is also good to freeze. If you want to take it a step further, buy frozen foods at the supermarket. Frozen veg is great and less effort as most of it is pre-cut and normally cheaper.