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How Do You Manage Your Weekly Food Shop?

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

Yes, it’s Friday and it’s me back with another fascinating domestic chore related feature. I promise next week I’ll compose something a little more frivolous and entertaining.

When we moved to the countryside 18 months ago there were all sorts of marvellous plans I had that never quite evolved into anything other than a rural dream. One of my main desires was to be more organised and varied with regards what and where we bought our food from. I wanted to invest in more organic produce, shop locally where possible, improve my recipe repertoire. Hell, maybe one day I could grow my own rhubarb and runner beans.

Unfortunately life somehow got in the way and I admit to becoming the epitome of last minute until fairly recently.

Our nearest supermarket is Waitrose, which is as you can imagine, a very expensive way to “just pop out for a few bits”. I tried various alternative online supermarket delivery services and was left disappointed and pissed off with the the vast array of substitutions and the poor quality of the fruit and veg. That was until my sister-in-law recommended Ocado and it’s been almost life-changing in terms of my ability to buy what I need quickly, easily and make the most of frequent offers and savings. Just to be clear – this is NOT a sponsored post for Ocado, I have just had a really positive experience personally.

I tend to put my online order in on a Sunday afternoon for delivery Monday morning. I have a bunch of regulars that I always order so I know I can always whip up at least a spag bol or jacket potatoes with salad and then I endeavour to make the most of bargains – not only does that mean we try new things sometimes but it also saves the pennies. Ocado is by far the easiest website I have ever used in terms of the navigation. They price match too so after an order they will send you a voucher for your next shop if they find products were cheaper else where at the time you purchased. And I’ve received endless free gifts and “bundles” – £25 worth of free baby related garb and posh chocolates to name a few.

Can you tell I really like Ocado?

Apart from a revolutionary online experience, most of my other must-do-better boxes are yet to be ticked. All of our meat is organic albeit supermarket supplied, but apart from that I am yet to partake in a true home-grown adventure. I occasionally make time to visit our local green grocers (and my goodness you can taste the difference with the fruit especially I swear – amazing) and I still haven’t discovered what I’m sure are fantastic butchers in the local area.

I need to set aside some time per week to make a trip, somehow fit it in to my mental schedule of baby juggling, pre-school pick ups, running a business and spending time with my family and friends.

How do you manage a week of varied and (mostly) nutritious recipes and snacks? Do you have a favourite supermarket? Do you shop online or prefer to wheel your trolley down the aisles? Do you make a concerted effort to utilise local food suppliers and/or grow your own courgettes?!

Thanks so much for all the recommendations on washing machines last week by the way, I think a Bosch might just be winging its way to my utility room in the not to distant future 😉

P.S the header image was from a pepper/feta recipe we published YEARS ago, I really must give this one a whirl again, so quick and easy.

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27 thoughts on “How Do You Manage Your Weekly Food Shop?

  1. Charlotte, I completely agree about Ocado! I thought about trying them for ages and finally did after my son was born and can’t believe how fantastic they are! I would also love to shop more locally for fresh fruit, etc- I did for a while as it tastes better and supermarket over-packaging bothers me, but have found it harder to buy stuff that doesn’t get wasted now that I’ve got far less time to cook. Inspired by Naomi’s plastic article (and now yours) I am making a much bigger effort again to shop locally and cut down on needless packaging/waste

    1. Have a look at The Food Assembly website and see if you have one local to you. We’ve just got one here and I visited last week. It’s great but not necessarily cheap. It’s full of local producers who produce/harvest goods to order so there is no waste.

      1. Oooh thanks for the tip Siobhan, I’ll have a butchers this morning. Interestingly I discovered a local market in my nearest town yesterday just after I had finished writing this feature, it was small but they had a great fruit/veg stall with asparagus bundles 2 for £1 or something, I could have bought loads had I had the time. I am going to see if it’s a regular Thursday thing and make the effort to go x

    2. here here Danni, the volume of packaging astounds me – Naomi’s article was spot on.

  2. Another Ocado evangelist over here. I love that I can get all my Waitrose faves (hello Heston’s Lapsang Suchon Smoked Salmon) along with bargain basics cheaper than Tesco. We also have Vitality Healthcare which has Ocado linked as one of the benefits so we get big discounts on healthy products and free delivery,

    I agree that the website is much easier to navigate than all the other online supermarkets. I like that I can filter by “price per” to get the best value. The online chat facility is also really helpful and useful if you ever have any order issues (send a delivery to my previous address? Twice in two weeks? Moi? Never 😳)

    We too have a Waitrose up the road which is lethal as in my less organised phases (aka most of the time) I’m in there every other day. You’ve motivated me to get organised, meal plan and get back into weekly online order.

    1. Philippa, are we the same person?! You love Ocado and frequent Waitrose as much as me! It’s interesting you should mention Vitality Healthcare, I’ve been considering private healthcare (My husband and I were both very spoilt with prior jobs in terms of benefits but now we have our own businesses it’s not a policy we have invested in). How do you find it? In terms of service etc? I wonder if it would make an interesting post actually 🤔

      Anyway back to the topic, absolutely with you on the on the Ocado filter – I love a bargain/value for money x

      1. We have Vitality, and also find it saves us a bit on Ocado each week.
        Off topic, for Vitality:
        We have worked hard to get platinum status, which we achieved at the beginning of the year, and we have already saved a fair bit of money on the partnerships it deals with.
        For instance, we got 30% off our Eurostar trains to Disney in April. I have just booked 3 nights away to The Pig in Honiton, saving £175 (25%) by booking through Mr&Mrs Smith (all hotels are 25% off on their website), they have discounts on BA flights (40% on platinum), they have big discounts on gyms – Nuffield, and David Lloyd Centres, and I can get 75% off Champneys, with 25% for a friend (I’ve used this a coupled of times).
        Plus, weekly, we get free cinema tickets plus a free Starbucks coffee weekly, if we meet our required points for the week.
        Not to mention the fact it’s obviously got us both moving a lot more to reach the desired steps!
        so yes, I would highly recommend Vitality 🙂

        1. Nikki this sounds great! I really don’t think I’ve heard of it before, I must have been living under a rock. The discounts on holidays etc sound really worth while x

          1. I don’t work for Vitaity but I’ve PM’ed several big projects for them and was so impressed by their product offering my husband and I signed up. Being rewarded for being healthy makes total sense to me. Not quite at platinum yet though Nikki!

  3. I’m so jealous of you all having Ocado. I’m in Scotland and we don’t have it here, but all my English friends are evangelical about it. I do my weekly shop in Aldi with a top up of the branded products I can’t live without at Sainsburys.

    I love Aldi, and the lack of choice means I can whizz round the store in less than 15 minutes. Nobody needs to spend 20 minutes debating which cherry tomatoes to buy, so the fact they only have 1 type feels quite liberating. I do hate the fact that the majority of their veg is wrapped in plastic, and the till experience is like one of those timed game shows, but I actually find it weirdly fun beating the checkout operator.

    There are only half a dozen or so things I can’t get at Aldi or which I’m fussy about (butter, proper kettle chips, decent tonic), so I go into Sainsburys with my list already in my head and rarely deviate (lets pretend I didn’t spend a heap of money on kids clothes in the TU 25% off last night!).

    And yes I would love to use a local green grocer/butcher. But the nearest green grocer is a 25 minute drive away and our butcher is open such awkward hours I never make it after work. I tried a veg box, but didn’t rate them and seemed to get a lot of strange things we never used. I also tried milk delivery, but resented paying double what the supermarkets charged to discover it wasn’t coming from a local dairy after all.

    1. My sister is a very savvy shopper – she goes to Aldi for certain things, BM bargains for tins/bicuits once a month and then a local butcher for special occasions. I think she also uses Sainsburys for general stuff. It’s quite time consuming though – she’s currently on MAT leave so I’m not sure how she will juggle it when she’s back at work! Unfortunately we don’t have an Aldi near us anymore, they have great things for babies x

  4. We use Tesco’s online, and I usually just run through my favourites list deciding which veg I fancy this week, and stocking up on what we’ve run down from the cupboards. But I too am fed up of the plastic and this week I’m making an effort to make my growing my own dream come true. I’ve ordered pea and tomato seedlings which should be arriving soon, and I’m actually looking forward to working for my food. I’ve also got herbs already in and some cucumber seedling that look ready to be potted on.

    My grandparents had an amazing garden when I was growing up and we used to spend summers there, feasting on runnerbeans and fruit from the garden. And I think my grandpa used to enjoy escaping us all to tend the veg patch – for some peace and quiet.

    1. Oh Rebecca this sounds wonderful! My welsh Nan also had an amazing garden, peas, beans, potatoes, strawberries – and then she grew tomatoes, cucumber and goodness knows what else in her greenhouse. I loved eating the raw peas straight from the pod in particular. We have large wooden raised veg boxes (?) left in the back garden from the previous owners and we STILL haven’t got around to doing anything. It’s a travesty.

      1. Bit jealous of your raised beds! I need to take a trip to wilko or Homebase over the weekend to pick up something suitable for housing both the plants and the cane tripod to support them. Hopefully it will all be more successful than last years experiment in growing courgettes, where we harvested not a single one – I think I know what my mistakes were there though…

        I grabbed grandpas garden planning book last time I was down at my gran’s old house (the one she moved to after he died, with a smaller, much more manageable garden that she filled with flowers (which were always her thing, she had various certificates in flower arranging). I’m planning to use it to teach myself what to do in the garden when.

        And sorry for rambling on a bit but it would have been gran’s birthday today, and I seem to have been hit by the nostalgia/missing them both and wishing I’d taken the time to learn more from them.

  5. I’m similar to Sara, in that I do a bit of a mixed shop. Our local Lidl for most things and then Tesco for the brand things (that beat their cheaper alternatives on quality or packaging).
    Our local fruit/veggie box is spot on, so that takes a chunk of effort out of the shop.
    Then every other Friday, Ethan and I have a Mummy/Son date at our local farm shop/cafe where he get’s a biscuit and I get all our meat in for the fortnight.
    I do spend a lot of time in the shops with the above routine, but I also get to control the packaging. If Ocado delivered my way and had a packaging filter to tell me how much plastic was/wasn’t in something, I would be IN.
    We’ve started growing potatoes and garlic, (which apparently cleans your soil?!) then we plan on expanding the garden veggie patch to more interesting things.

    1. I agree about the packaging filter! I’m also an Ocado fan and I have used the feedback section of their website to ask for a way of searching/ filtering by packaging.

  6. I use a local fruit and veg box delivery and a milk delivery (who also bring eggs). I then order a small shop from Ocado – they’re definitely the best. My daughter has allergies and they have a good free from section. However I really want to start doing this shop at Aldi/ Lidl to save money and because I have more control over packaging but it is time consuming and not particularly fun! We’ve also started trying to use a local butcher but again.. time. My local shop is also Waitrose and when I’m disorganised it’s soooo expensive (but also quite a pleasant experience!)

    1. Anna I tried a local milk etc delivery and was disappointed to fine it wasn’t locally sourced, so we cancelled – it was more expensive than the supermarket. I think someone above had a similar experience. . There must be others I can try, how do you find the local fruit/veg box? x

  7. I bloody love Ocado! I’ve been using them for years and I have a regular delivery slot on a Sunday morning. I think their food is really good quality, pretty much the same price as everywhere else and very rarely has to give you substitutions. I too have lovely ideas of going to the local farm shop for my veg and farmers market for meat, but it never happens – life just gets in the way so I figure for the time being at least, using Ocado means that I can cook healthy meals, even though I’m not quite fulfilling the idyllic village shopping dream 😉

    We do actually have an allotment which we managed to get when we bought our house. It is great – we grow loads of fruit (raspberries and strawberries are super easy to grow and require very little maintenance) and some veg with varying degrees of success. It is quite a lot of work though and definitely an investment both financially and in terms of time. I’ve put a little playhouse down there and a sandpit table so that the boys can play whilst I dig, and now I have a pretty shed there I feel much more inclined to pop there at lunchtime to give myself a break from work and pick a few beans for dinner. It does require constant watering though so I long for a house with a big enough garden to actually have it all in one place! xx

  8. We are really lucky that our Aldi is literally across the road from a Sainsbury’s, so we write a big list, run round Aldi in no time at all, and anything left on the list at the end we pop across and buy from Sainsbury’s (usually things like spices, odd canned pulses, toiletries). We don’t even have to move the car.

    We have a good local butcher which is great, their bacon especially beats any supermarket. My parents transferred their weekly veg box to us when they went away for a month, which I did enjoy but the timing was wrong – they delivered on a Thursday and we don’t always plan our weekend meals, which meant that some of it was past its best by the time we came to eat it then following week… we also ended up with a ridiculous amount of onions as they were in the box every week!

    We’ve slipped a bit in the last few weeks though and have done a number of top up shops which is awful money wise… we need to get back on it!

  9. My husband and I have recently been having a grocery delivery service face off. He’s completely wedded to Waitrose, will only shop there and only wants to use their delivery service. I, on the other hand, am all about Ocado. So, we’ve been trying them both. So far – Ocado have had very few substitutions, are cheaper and always have far more delivery slots than Waitrose. My husband has been forced to admit they are better.

    I love being right! 😉

    1. Oh sorry on the actual subject – we do a vague meal plan every weekend and then an Ocado shop. I do wish I could organise myself to do Lidl/Aldi shops for some basics (nappies!) but I never get round to it.

      Oh we are also members of costco which I LOVE. Their meat and fruit is such brilliant quality. We tend to buy lots of meat there then split it into separate bags and freeze it – brilliant value. Also brilliant for getting sandwiches and crisps in bulk for parties 🎉

  10. I’ve been a Tesco online shopping since I was a student (I8 years now – yes, we ordered when they only had one van and thought it would never work!), primarily because of price and convenience (I don’t drive and have very little time to shop around,even though a Lidl and Waitrose are also close by).

    The Tesco app in particular is useful – I stand in my larder and tap away at it. Never had any quality issues with the fresh produce thankfully. Did try Sainsburys for a while but the online experience just wasn’t as good.

    We do have a great fishmonger/butcher that’s local-ish that my husband drives to and for anything special or for a nice weekend dinner we tend to shop there a couple of times a month.

  11. I have recently been introduced to Gousto food boxes and they are revolutionising my evening meals – great recipe choices, easy to prepare and healthy. One delivery a week and you can order for 2, 3 or 4 nights and the best part- everything is pre-measured so no food waste! ps – I am not being sponsored just a fan 😉

    1. Kay I am a Gousto user too – especially for weeks when there is so much going on. We have the box that is 4 meals for 4 people but because the boys are only small we always have left overs and get 6 meals out of the 4 which I;m really pleased about 🙂 And I love the fat there is no waste 🙂 X

  12. My husband sets his alarm every Sunday morning, gets up and does an inventory of the cupboards and fridge freezer. He then writes a menu plan and a corresponding shopping list, and goes to the supermarket during the browsing period and then gets to the tills first thing. I don’t have to go because I apparently dawdle and get seduced by 3 for 2s, OBVIOUSLY I am gutted (ahem). We did try home delivery of quite a few supermarkets but the short use by dates and frustrating substitutions meant we decided to go back to the big shop. We started strict menu planning to try and cut down on the waste we were generating and it works really well.

  13. Oh I love articles like this! I do a big bulk shop in Aldi once a month for basics such as pasta, rice, tins, biscuits etc then a small Tesco order weekly for bits we need after meal planning. I also do a monthly meat order from a butcher and then divide it up and freeze it and try to buy fruit and veg from a local greengrocer stall but I do need to get better at that! One thing that really works for our house is a shared shopping list on notes on our iPhones. I’ve linked it so that we can all pop bits on there that’s needed so if something runs out etc it goes straight on the list! Sounds very time consuming but I’ve got it down to a tee now!!

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