Planning Your Food Shopping
OUT AT THE SHOPS
Try to do as much shopping as you can on a single weekly expedition and make a comprehensive shopping list. Keep a basic list of items you need regularly every week and add to it as you notice stocks getting low. Also add any ingredients called for in your weekly meal
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
You’ll buy too much and go for things you feel like at the time, rather than ones that will be useful days later.
Bright and early
The earlier you go, the wider the choice and the fresher the produce you’ll find.
Which shops are best?
It depends on what’s handy, of course. But always choose reputable businesses with high standards of cleanliness, a regular turnover, and friendly, helpful staff.
Buy from specialist shops when you can. You may get fresher and cheaper spices, for example, from an Indian or Middle-Eastern delicatessen which sells large quantities of them.
Make friends with shopkeepers
You’ll find most are only too happy to offer advice and point out good buys. Butchers often do special cuts of meat for customers they know, and many delicatessens, cheese shops and even wine merchants will let you taste before you buy.
Ask for what you want
There could still be stocks at the back of the shop, even if not on the shelves. And if they don’t keep the item, ask the shopkeeper or the buyer if he can order it for you. Even staff in large supermarkets are usually willing to help.
Special offers or a waste of money?
Cut out coupons for items you already use and keep them in your purse for the next shopping trip. If they’re for products you wouldn’t otherwise buy, think hard about whether you really need them before you bother to save the coupons, or you may be wasting your money.
Compare prices carefully: supermarkets’ own brands may be better value than special offers on other makes.
Damaged tins and packets
Don’t buy rusty or leaking tins, however small the puncture, or food in packages with a broken seal. Bacteria may have got in and caused the contents to spoil.
Food that’s close to its use-by date
Cheese, meat, vegetables, prepared meals and other perishables are often reduced as they approach their use-by dates. Make the most of these offers, but always check that the date hasn’t actually expired, and only buy items you’ll use up quickly.