If you no longer have the privilege of living with your parents, chances are you regularly make your own dinner. Being in charge of your own nutrition for the first time is exciting but dangerous. You’re likely to spend the first while stocking up on frozen food and pasta (always pasta, nobody knows why), especially if you’re not comfy in the kitchen. Eventually though, you’re going to realise that it’s been a while since you ate anything green (Twisters don’t count).
First things first,
I’m the realest write up a meal plan. This is the part where you need to decide what kind of diet you want. Are you going to eat whatever you like, but try to sneak the odd bit of fruit and veg in? Are you going to subsist on pre-packed salads? Do you feel like mixing it up and going vegetarian/Paleo/pescetarian? Clearly this will inform your purchases, so have a good think about it before you start planning.
Some do’s and don’t’s to consider:
- DON’T plan too rigidly – set up one main meal a day, and buy some miscellaneous items for your other meals (bananas, bread, canned tuna etc.)
- DON’T plan for one whole week’s worth of meals in one shopping trip or you’re likely to end up wasting food.
- Having said that, DO plan for leftovers. Leftovers are yours friends – cook more than you’ll eat in one sitting and either freeze the rest or eat it for lunch during the week.
- DO mix it up – you will get sick of having heavy meals every night, or eating nothing but beef three days in a row, and that’s when you’re most likely to give in to getting take-away.
Once you’ve got your meal plan you can use it to make a shopping list. If a lot of your ingredients can be used for more than one meal you’ve done a good job (look at you, you big grown up!)
If you’re pinching pennies, you’re probably better off getting your groceries online and delivered to your door since you can use comparison sites to make sure you’re getting the best deal. The most popular of these sites is probably MySupermarket, which will show you your price options as you shop and automatically move your stuff to the virtual basket of whatever store you choose.
As for things like cleaning and hygiene products – your local Poundland (or similar discount store depending on where you live) is the way to go. Honestly. Everything costs £1 (obviously) so it’s often about 3x cheaper than most supermarkets.
Making It Last
If you have flatmates, you need to set ground rules for your food. Do you share milk? Do you have designated cupboards? Your own side of the fridge? Sort it out, and plan accordingly. You’re going to want to invest in Tupperware so you don’t ever have to chuck out perfectly good food. It’s also a good idea to record the food that’s regularly in the fridge so you never top up on stuff you already have (endless cartons of milk means you’ll have to drink so much tea). If you want to be fancy and a little kitsch, you can write up your fridge inventory on a chalkboard – also fun for leaving notes to your flatmates or significant other (eg. PLEASE take out the fucking garbage ☺ ). Amazon sells this self-adhesive chalkboard paper for £5.99 and you can put it on anything.
Eating Your Food
The final and most fun step of grocery shopping. Perform it with pride and gusto!
Et voila, you have successfully taken charge of your own nutrition.
Your mama should be proud.
Featured image by David Blackwell.