Ever since we moved to the ‘country’ we’ve gotten better and better at grocery shopping. When we lived close to the supermarket we would do a weekly shop plus grab extra bits and pieces throughout the week. We now live more than half an hour from the grocery store, so we had to smarten up. We do have a local general store for emergencies, but it is expensive. Grabbing bits and pieces here and there no longer works for us.
In the last year or to two we got a lot better at planning our weekly grocery shop. We would go together, once per week, usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and we’d get takeaway for dinner before or after. We started doing meal planning about a year or two ago and it has been so helpful. It means we know our dinner options, we know that we have all of the correct ingredients and we no longer have to run to the shops to get a missing ingredient. Since we live in an area that gets flooded and cut off, we also keep a well stocked pantry and freezer which is also helpful in limiting how often we have to go to the store.
Well recently we decided that even shopping once per week was just too much effort. It takes up our whole night by the time we drive there, shop, get some dinner and drive home. So we decided to try fortnightly shopping.
It has been………EXCELLENT!!! I cannot see us going back to weekly shopping. We started doing the fortnightly shops in about August last year and we have managed to keep it up. You would think it would take more effort but it’s actually easier.
On shopping day, we get home from work and write a list of meals. We come up with 10 to 12 meals to last us a fortnight. We find this is a good number as we might go out for dinner sometimes, have leftovers or have a ‘whatever’ night. We don’t assign the meals to a particular night, we switch them based on what we want. Anything with meat we freeze the meat into bags in the right portion for each dish. Defrosting frozen meat is actually quite fast if you freeze it in as flat of a shape as possible, rather than a rolled up ball. You can then put the bag of meat into a bowl of water. Chicken breasts are usually defrosted within half an hour maximum, mince is even less. Easy.
We’ve also started trying to team up as many meals as possible. So if we buy mince, we then use it for tacos, bolognese and rissoles during the fortnight. If we buy sausages for example, we then use it for a sausage casserole as well as sausages and salad later on. Daniel makes a fabulous steak and Guinness pie and we’ve found this is a great one to get a few meals out of. On the first night we’ll have the beef stew along with rice or potato. The next night we’ll put the filling into pies with some mushy pees. Then a few nights later we will use some spare filling for jaffles.
We’ve found shopping fortnightly also works out cheaper. We were spending about $120 to $140 on our weekly shops, yet we are now spending $180 to $200 for our fortnightly shop. We’re aiming to get our grocery bill even lower, if we could down to $160 would be great. We seem to be buying less junk, less impulse purchases and we’re being smarter about the types of meals we’re having, which I think is leading to our cheaper bill.
A lot of people have asked how the produce last for a fortnight. We manage this by buying some things throughout the fortnight. Milk lasts ages these days, so we generally buy about 3×2 litre bottles on the initial shop, and then usually I’ll have to grab a bottle of milk once or twice on the way home from work. I do find our fruit doesn’t last a whole fortnight and I usually buy a few pieces of stone fruit once during the fortnight. I’d say we would buy about $15 worth of extras apart from the original shop. But this is still far less than it had been in the past.
Overall I would say this is best change we’ve made to our way of living in years. It is well worth the effort and planning to ensure that we only have to go grocery shopping once per fortnight instead of every week. Sometimes we even find that we can push it out to three weeks if we have enough leftovers and meals stored in the freezer.
Here is an example meal list:
Sausages and salad
Chicken with avocado and tomato salsa
Big breakfast including bacon, tomato, beans, sausage and eggs
Omelette with ham and tomato
Homemade pizza or calzone
Barbecued jerk chicken legs
If you’re considering giving fortnightly shopping a try, I’d say go for it, you can’t really get it that wrong!