Without getting too Superwoman, or indeed, too Superman about this, planning meals ahead of time can be a great help for busy working mothers and fathers and for those for whom finance after divorce is tight.
Planning your weekly menus
Have a black or white board in the kitchen on which, on one side, you can make a list of all the meals you need to cater for the next week. On the other write a list of everything you need to buy. This enables everyone in the household to see what is going on and make their own suggestions. Simple and democratic.
The problem with this is that it can be a bit prescriptive but it doesn’t mean that if you see a fantastic offer on pork chops or spinach that you can’t either change your menu on the hoof so to speak or buy the additional item and store it to use at a later date.
If you are not organised enough, live on your own or simply can’t be bothered to think about what to have for supper on Friday on Monday morning then you are probably more likely to favour the ad hoc method of shopping. This also allows for a little more creativity as it is only too easy to get locked into a treadmill of tried and tested favourites.
Once you have decided more or less what you are going to eat for the next few days make a list. It is a good idea to have a master list of all the things that you buy regularly e.g milk, pasta, onions, cornflakes etc. Stick it up on the back of the kitchen door – or wherever - and check it when you are deciding what you need. It helps to ensure that you don’t end with twenty tins of tomatoes or forget essentials like butter or eggs.
Remember to take your list with you when you leave the house - it's so easy to do a well planned list and then leave it behind. Sick to the list, no impulsive purchases.
Children and shopping
If you have young children try not to take them with you when food shopping. So called pester power can add pounds to your bill if you are not strict. Buying children sugar, fat and additive laden rubbish to keep them quiet is never a good idea.
Older children can be useful helping to locate stuff in big supermarkets and generally acting as gofers as long as they are made to understand that buying groceries is not a social occasion. They will incur the wrath of staff and other shoppers if they use shops as playgrounds. A small treat is very useful as a bribe if they are genuinely helpful.
If taking younger children with you is unavoidable try to shop early in the day when shops are usually quieter and you have to spend less time queuing with a bored and demanding three year old.