Tag Archives: Supermarket

The Weekly Shopping

On Thursday last, I gave you all an insight into how I plan meals for the week, This process is (usually) quickly followed by the weekly shopping.

Having an outline of your meals for the week is a great start to making a shopping list. I used to be one of those “ah shure, I’ll remember it when I get to the shop” types but what I’ve discovered is that tends to lead to a few problems.

  • I’d always forget something that I really needed
  • I’d buy things that I didn’t want or need
  • I’d buy more ‘treats’ and less actual food
  • I’d spend more than I intended to

These days, once I have my meal plan done up, I’ll make a shopping list of all the items I need, including the quantities required, even if I think I have it in the kitchen already.

Being the geek that I am, I use google tasks for my shopping list. It’s actually much better than a paper list because I can type into google tasks quicker and more legibly than I could ever write it. it’s easy to organise the list, once you have an idea of the locations of the items in the shops and it’s much easier to tick things off as you go round the shops than carrying a pen and a piece of paper, plus I can load the list on my mobile phone.

So once I have my list made up, I start the shopping at home by ticking off all the items that I don’t need, which leads to me discovering that I’m out of marmalade or coffee or whatever other items aren’t actual ingredients of the recipes I’ve planned. Once that’s done I’ll organise my list as per the shops I’m going to have to go to and a rough order that they appear in as I walk around the shops and off I go.

The first stops are usually the Fruit and veg shop and the butchers, why not buy everything in the supermarket?

Time was I’d buy all my fruit, veg and meat in Superquinn but since the change of owner, I’ve found the selection and quality have reduced while the pricing has remained the same. It’s taken me some time to find them but a good fruit and veg shop and butcher will be as good, if not better, quality produce than the supermarket has available and they’re usually no more expensive. Plus I get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that I’m supporting a local business :)

After that it’s off to the supermarket and this means Tesco or Superquinn for me usually, as they are the two that have the easiest access locally although I’m finding myself in Tesco (Maynooth) more and more, as my favourite fruit and veg store as well as my favourite butcher are across the car park from them :)

With most meals, I can find all the ingredients by doing this, but there are some speciality items that need to be picked up elsewhere. A while back I was pointed towards ‘Fresh’ for Tipo 00 flour. I was disappointed with the fruit and veg selection (all organic, but very expensive even compared to organic in the supermarkets) at the Dublin food co-op. I did find a good selection of herbs and spices, some unusual cheeses and a great selection of oils and vinegars there. I’ve also been surprised by how useful Google has been to find some ingredients and also both the Not Junk Food Facebook and Twitter pages, so if you’re having trouble finding something specific don’t be afraid to ask and we may be able to help.

So to sum up, make a shopping list and stick to it, buy only what you need (saves money and waste), check out the local fruit and veg store as well as the butcher (they may surprise you), anything you can’t find between these and the supermarkets ask us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll do our best to help you find it :)

Risotto

As the nights start to get shorter in autumn, my cooking style changes dramatically. Out go the salads, pastas and lighter meals of summer and in come the thick, heart-warming dishes of winter. I tend to find cooking very therapeutic, and love nothing more than spending 10 or 20 minutes peeling, chopping and preparing veg for a delicious stew or risotto. You get into your own rhythm when doing this, and once practiced, you can do it without thinking, which gives me time to reflect on my day and clear my mind.

Cooking the risotto rice
Image by VancityAllie via Flickr

Of all the winter dishes I cook, risotto is one of my favourites. It’s a true Italian peasant classic, a way of turning a small amount of food into a dish that feeds many people – and extremely cheap to make, which is perfect in the current recession. The only ingredient that is any way “out of the ordinary” is the risotto rice – which is now stocked by all of the major supermarket chains, and I’ve even seen it in some of the larger ‘corner shops’ lately.

Risotto takes time, but once you’ve cooked it once or twice it won’t tie up a lot of your attention, so it’s a great method of relaxing into your evening. It’s also incredibly tasty and super simple – so don’t be scared of trying to cook it!

The recipe I’m giving here serves about 6 people, as this is usually the quantity I make in one go. If there’s only the two of us in the house, then we eat it over a couple of days, re-heating it in the microwave for about 2 mins, with a sheet of kitchen roll on top to stop it spitting everywhere. It’s also really versatile, as you don’t have to add your toppings to the main pan of risotto, but can simply place them on top of a portion in a bowl – which means that you can vary the taste and not feel like you are eating the same meal three times in a row!