Household Miscellany – organising the groceries

Running a household, regardless of how big or small your family is or whether children are included, is a job on its own. It takes a LOT of time and energy to make sure those bills are paid, fill in all the forms, keep track of the family budget, file away the important documents, research the options for new purchases/home maintenance/insurance etc etc etc ETC ETC!!  The job is never done.

There are many made-up names for this job, of which some of my favourites include:

Household Business Manager

Family Secretary

Minister for Finance/Administration/Health/Foreign Affairs/Trade

The Boss

And yet, even with such fancy titles to describe the job, it’s surprisingly under-paid and under-appreciated!

I know that talking about how to organise your home stuff is, to a lot of people, about as interesting as watching the grass grow.  But personally, I enjoy reading about how other bloggers go about organising their homes and families!  It’s the kind of stuff I talk about with my IRL friends.  We love it!  The Mrs W of 15 years ago would probably be horrified if she knew that she would grow up to get excited and gossipy about domestic duties and organising.  Sorry to disappoint you Miss W.  But hey, nowadays you can wrap and accessorise a kick-arse birthday gift like no one’s business!

So today I had the bright idea to blog about how we I organise the groceries in our house.  I’ve tried a couple of different ways of doing this task, and recently changed my method in a mission to find the best fit for our family.  What are you talking about? It’s just GROCERIES for crying out loud I hear you say! Yes, buying groceries is not rocket science, but when you add the layers of work (talking about the kinds of jobs that pay, here) or study, and then children, and then all the day-to-day miscellany of having a house and a family, you need to find the best ways to be efficient with your time.

menu plan

Pre-kids, I used to take an early afternoon off from work once a fortnight on payday, to go to the supermarket and buy all our groceries for the fortnight ahead.  We got paid fortnightly, so I would shop only once for a whole fortnight to get it done and out of the way.  It helped me keep control over our fortnightly budget, once the groceries were done I knew I wouldn’t have to do them again for a whole two weeks.  I would write a fortnightly menu plan and grocery list beforehand so that I wasn’t filling the trolley with “unauthorised purchases” as we jokingly label them in our house.

But once Moose came along, I found it too difficult to get through the 1-2 hour shopping expedition with an energetic toddler in tow.  And then I found online shopping.  *Cue angelic singing and harps*.  Not only was it a complete novelty to buy the groceries in my pyjamas from the comfort of my own couch, but I saved time by not having to weave my way up and down and around the supermarket, deal with dodging around other people in the aisles, and unload the groceries at the checkout then back in to the trolley then in to the boot of my car then in to the house.  And because I was ordering a fortnight’s worth of groceries, the total cost was usually a big enough sum to earn me free delivery.  You mean someone will pack all my groceries for me and deliver them to my house for NOTHING?! All hail the digital age!!

Now that there are two little ‘uns in our house, and knowing that I would soon be going back to work part-time (I started back last week), about a month ago I started thinking about how I could make the process even more efficient.  I was starting to feel like it was taking me longer and longer to write up a whole fortnightly menu plan and grocery list, and then order it all online in one big go.  That whole process was taking me between 3-4 hours!  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So I have changed it up again.  My new process is a weekly shop – I write up a week’s worth of meals and the required groceries.  I don’t look any further ahead than just one week, if I think we won’t need something until the following week, I put it on the shopping list for the next shop in a week’s time.  And so far this has been working extremely well.  Here are the pros:

  • Even though I have to go through the task of writing up a menu plan and grocery list twice every fortnight now instead of only once, it takes less time to do it.  It’s relatively easy to come up with 6 or 7 homemade dinner ideas, but if you have to add on an additional 6 or 7, it adds on a lot more time as you start flipping through recipe books and magazines, scrambling for ideas….
  • And obviously, the online ordering part takes a lot less time too, because the order is smaller.
  • I was finding that once we got past the first week of the fortnight, we would be making quick stops at the shops two or three times in the last week anyway to stock up on things – such as milk and bread which had run out, fruit and veggies that had gone bad and had to be thrown away, etc.  Doing a weekly shop instead of a fortnightly one has really cut down the amount of extra visits to the supermarket.
  • It’s also reduced the amount of food we are throwing away, as we’re only concentrating on one week at a time so food is more likely to be used up before it goes off.  Which also means we are spending less money on topping up the supply of fresh food as it gets thrown away.  And because we are buying our groceries more regularly, we can enjoy eating fresher fruit and veggies, rather than stuff that has been hanging around for over a week!
  • Another lovely side-effect from this new arrangement is that I’ve made it part of my weekly routine with the kids on my day off from work.  At the same time I decided to change to a weekly shop, I decided it was time to boycott buying our fruit and veggies from the big supermarkets.  I was done with spending so much money on “fresh” produce, which never looked fresh to begin with, and which never had any taste, only to have it go completely rotten within a few days.  I was feeling so revolting from eating this stuff, I was sure that none of us were actually gaining anything nutritionally from it.  So I decided that I would only buy non fruit/veg/meat groceries online from the big supermarkets, and on my one day off with the kids every week, I would have those groceries delivered in the morning, then we would go to the gym, and on the way home go to the local fresh food markets to buy our fruit/veg and meat (and have a play on the playground while we were there) (and sometimes have a browse through the gorgeous bookshop too, because books).  We are loving our little weekly ritual together!  And the fruit and veg we are buying from the markets actually tastes like yummy, fresh fruit and veg!

There is only one down-side to the new weekly-shop method so far – our budget, which is still a fortnightly one because that’s how we get paid, is a little less controlled because we don’t know exactly how much we will spend on groceries each week.  But because we’re not throwing away as much food and not spending money on little additional trips to the shops here and there, I think in the long run it will still work out to be cheaper to shop more regularly.  I’m still tracking our weekly spend to compare it to our old costs, so time will tell.

I can’t believe I’ve just written over 1000 words on groceries. 

How about you – how do you organise the groceries at your place?  And do you get a kick out of reading about how other people manage their households the way I do?

 Linking up with The Weekend Rewind at Maxabella Loves


2 thoughts on “Household Miscellany – organising the groceries

  1. I love posts like this that share the nitty-gritty of daily life. It’s fascintating and I always pick up some new tips to try. I also do the home delivery thing and while i do love it, I always seem to be on the receiving end of missed groceries, out of stocks, late deliveries, etc. You name it! That was with Woolies, so I’m tempted to give Coles a go, but I’ve got my system so streamlined over on the Woolies site that it might be too much work to swap. See, I shop weekly, but I have fairly set meals that I rotate over the course of 2 months. So I have eight weeks worth of different menus and I just pick one and buy that week’s worth of food. I add on a couple of extras we might need (soap, dishwashing detergent, etc), but the food is just the food from that week’s menu. Works a treat and takes me all of three minutes to order!! x

    • Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one Bron!
      It’s so annoying when your order isn’t right. That used to happen to me all the time but it rarely does anymore, my local Woolies seems to have picked up its game! Make sure to call the customer hotline if you have items that are missing – they will refund your money or arrange a seperate delivery.
      I tried Coles a couple of times, but it did take a long time to order, because I had my system all in place with Woolies, like you! I have also found that Coles don’t seem to have as many specials/discounts as Woolies do?
      That is a great idea to have regular meal plans, and have it all saved and ready to go! So clever, so efficient!

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