Sunday, August 14, 2022

How an Australian Couple Shops for a Week’s Worth of Groceries – Grocery Diary

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Name: Sharna
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Number of people in the household: Two 42-year-olds (no children), two cats, and a dog
Occupation: Jarrod, my husband, works in the military and I am a house spouse
Where you shopped: Market stalls at the Adelaide Central Market and Aldi
Amount spent: $199.33 (Australian dollars, which is less than $150 in U.S. dollars)

Parking is $2 if I want to go to the Adelaide Central Market, but the quality and value of the produce compared to a traditional supermarket is unsurpassed. I spend just over an hour there and leave with my collapsible trolley (and linen totes) bursting with fresh produce from a variety of stalls.

I drive home, stopping by the Aldi in my local suburb to grab the handful of items I can’t source from the markets, such as tofu and cat food. My goal is to do all of my grocery shopping in this one trip so that I don’t have to run out with my car again (I prefer to ride my motor scooter usually).

What’s your grocery strategy?

I love to meal plan, shop, and cook. I also prefer to shop alone, as I like to take my time meandering through the amazing central markets. We keep a running grocery list on a shared app; when we use the last of an item, we can automatically add it to the list. I don’t list out my fresh produce — only pantry and non-food items, such as cleaning supplies. 

I start by cleaning the fridge and assessing what we have left from last week’s grocery haul, which, this time, includes goat cheese and smoked salmon. Once the fridge is empty and ready to be re-stocked, I spend some time formulating a loose meal plan for the week while I check out my favorite websites (The Kitchn, SBS Food) and even Instagram Reels for recipe inspiration. I’ll usually text Jarrod to see if he has any special requests too.

We cook from scratch for most of our meals and eat in-season, fresh, whole food. We like to eat out once every week or two, and go for coffee — a flat white for me (the Australian classic) and a hot chocolate for Jarrod — and dessert more frequently. We drink a lot of sparkling water, so we invested in a SodaStream. 

Ultimately, I meal plan as I am shopping. It’s driven by what’s in season, looks good, and is priced well. I aim to cook enough for Jarrod to take leftovers to work for lunch. Otherwise, he has access to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base’s subsidized café.

Wednesday: Eggs, Ham and Cheese, and Fresh Barramundi

My typical day starts at 7 a.m. when my husband Jarrod leaves a cup of tea (Earl Grey, whole milk from the Fleurier Peninsula, and a teaspoon of manuka honey) on my bedside table. He calls this morning ritual the “1 percenters,” the small acts of kindness that add up to a happy marriage. He doesn’t drink tea or coffee himself, so I appreciate this all the more. I almost always have a cooked breakfast, and today it is soft-boiled, free-range, organic eggs on sourdough avocado toast with a second cup of tea. Jarrod skips breakfast.

For lunch, I have a green smoothie made with pineapple, strawberries (including their tops for extra greens), a banana, kale, and ice. I cannot resist fresh bread, so I make a sandwich on the rye sourdough with ham, goat cheese I had in the fridge, lettuce, tomato, and grainy mustard (plus a pickle on the side!). Jarrod eats at the base cafeteria for lunch today, where he was served up a hot roast pork lunch complete with gravy and crackling. 

I always aim to eat the most perishable items, such as seafood, first. Tonight’s menu is fresh South Australian Barramundi baked in parchment paper and foil parcels accompanied by tender roasted baby potatoes with a garden salad. Lashings of sour cream and a salsa made of cherry tomatoes and avocado accompany the fish and potatoes. The leftover salsa always comes in handy to add zest to breakfasts over the coming days. After dinner I have some fresh strawberries and cherries for dessert with a cup of chamomile tea.

Thursday: A Duo of Salads and Salmon Kebabs

I start the day with my morning cup of tea. Jarrod isn’t a weekday breakfast kind of guy, so he has plain buttered toast. After a morning walk (in the already hot Adelaide sun) I come home for a second cuppa and a breakfast of toasted sourdough with goat cheese spread and crispy bacon (Australian preferred cut) topped with leftover tomato and avocado salsa. Afterwards, I do some prep, which is my favorite part of cooking. I wash the lettuce varieties, make overnight oats with fresh fruit and cinnamon, and whip up a yogurt salad dressing and batches of cauliflower rice. 

Our favorite butcher has trays of marinated chicken that are a weekly go-to for us. I grill a portion of the chili and lime chicken breasts I bought to add to my salad for lunch. I use up most of the baby salad leaves, a carrot, cucumber, half a red capsicum, cherry tomatoes, and a handful of olives. I add the creamy, tangy yogurt dressing I made earlier. Jarrod has taken his all-time favorite fruit to work: Adelaide Hills Red Gala apples. (He will eat a couple of apples most days.) I have an apple along with a handful of cherries and more soda water during the afternoon.

Tonight’s menu is a warm salad of kale, roasted sweet potato, red capsicum, red onion, and feta. I dress the salad with lemon juice and olive oil and season it well. To up our veggie intake I steam a cob of corn and some cauliflower florets. The salmon fillets are lightly marinated in lemon juice and olive oil and mixed herbs, and pan-fried with a golden crust and slightly-under center (we prefer our salmon a little rare). 

After dinner we walk the block to our much-loved local café that specializes in Belgian hot chocolates. Jarrod gets his usual — a tall, dark hot chocolate — and we walk home along the boulevard enjoying the summer evening. The cost is $7 and Jarrod pays for this separate from our food budget.

Friday: Oats, Eggs, Prawn Gyoza Udon Soup, and a Sunset

Jarrod is off from work and cooks himself bacon and eggs on toasted sourdough. He also makes a banana and pineapple smoothie with fruit and a touch of water and ice. I microwave a portion of the overnight oats I prepared yesterday (I prefer them warm). The macerated cherries and strawberries are divine. I’m still peckish after, so I have some toast with my morning cup of tea. I top it with Vegemite (an Australian classic, although not for the faint-hearted!) and sliced avocado. 

We spend the morning walking our dog, a 14-year-old Mini Foxie, and running errands. We split a soft drink over ice as we prepare a spicy soup for lunch. My freezer ALWAYS contains a bag of Aldi frozen prawn gyoza. We steam these in a bamboo basket over a wok and add a packet of udon noodles to the boiling water in the final minutes of steaming the gyoza. We also add diced tofu, bok choy, Vegeta vegetable stock powder, and miso paste, as well as a splash of Japanese soy sauce and Sriracha. I snack on strawberries later that afternoon and Jarrod has a piece of buttered sourdough bread. 

It’s Friday night and we walk to the boulevard to see the sunset. Jarrod enjoys a hot chocolate and I opt for a lemonade with mint. We spend $11 from our date-night fund. We walk home via the second supermarket in our suburb (Woolworths) and get some discounted wholemeal bread rolls ($3.50) for an easy dinner of ham rolls and croissants ($4), for Jarrod’s breakfast tomorrow. Jarrod pays for this from his account.

Saturday: Another Full Breakfast and Grilled Chicken with Leftovers

I repeat my breakfast from yesterday (overnight oats and avocado Vegemite toast) and Jarrod eats two croissants stuffed with ham and cheese. He also makes a banana and pineapple smoothie, which we share. 

Saturday is my extra distance running day, clocking a half-marathon distance of 21.1km (I run at least 5km most days). I am ravenous afterwards and we split a kebab (or yiros, as they are called in South Australia — this is a hotly debated topic: Yiros or a kebab? Depends on where you reside!). We get chicken, all the add-ons (cheese, tomato, iceberg lettuce, onion, and tabouleh), plus extra-hot chili sauce and this diner’s signature garlic sauce. 

For dinner, we grill the marinated chicken from the butcher and eat it with leftover sweet potato and kale salad, and a fresh garden salad of cos lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and oven roasted potato wedges. I make an avocado yogurt dressing to top the potatoes and salad. This tangy dressing featuring garlic and lemon will be a star tomorrow over poached eggs for breakfast.

We take a late-evening walk for ice cream. Jarrod orders two scoops of chocolate noir and I have a single scoop of salted caramel. The cost is $12, which Jarrod pays from his account.

Sunday: Eggs Two Ways and Leftovers for Dinner

For breakfast I toast rye sourdough and top with Tasmanian smoked salmon, poached eggs, and last night’s avocado dressing. I have a couple of cups of tea as well. Jarrod fries an egg and rasher of bacon and assembles a bacon and egg roll with a slice of cheddar cheese. We have an apple each after breakfast.

We spend the afternoon at the West Beach Surf Life Saving Club having a drink and a giant bowl of potato wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce. Jarrod pays for this from his account ($22 total). For dinner, we repeat the soup we had for lunch Friday, finishing off the tofu and bok choy. 

Monday: A Very Aussie Dinner of Curried Snags

After my morning cup in bed, I repeat yesterday’s breakfast (smoked salmon and a poached egg). The last of the avocado dressing is drizzled over. I’m out of fresh bread so I toast some from the freezer. Jarrod grabs the final croissant and two apples on his way out the door.

We eat the last of the salads that are in the fridge along with the remaining grilled chicken for lunch. I freshen my salad with a dash of balsamic vinegar. I snack on strawberries in the afternoon. 

I make a very Aussie dinner of Curried Snags by pan-frying some beef sausages to seal, then sautéing a diced red onion, yellow capsicum, and carrots until soft. I add some curry powder and hot chili powder to the sautéed vegetables and toast it before adding the sausages back to the pot along with beef stock and diced fresh tomatoes. I like to really clean out the crisper towards the end of the week, so I add sliced green beans, diced cauliflower florets, and a cup of frozen peas to the mix to up the vegetable content and thicken the sauce with a cornflour paste. 

While the curry simmers, I grate cucumbers and salt them in a colander to remove excess moisture. I mix the cucumber with Greek yogurt for a simple raita to cool the spice of the curry. I set my old faithful — a $10 rice cooker — up to make garlic rice. I rinse golden basmati rice well before adding it to the rice cooker with chopped garlic, grated ginger, Vegeta stock powder, and half a tablespoon of ghee.

The curried sausage casserole is served on a bed of rice and topped with the raita and some papadums (quick-cook microwave-style). After dinner I have two cups of chamomile tea. 

Tuesday: Poached Egg with Smoked Salmon and the Final Avocado and Dinner in Chinatown

I have my first cup of tea in bed. After a walk with the dog, I return and toast bread from the freezer and poach an egg. The final avocado is ripe (I stored it in the fridge at the start of the week) so I top the toast with avocado, smoked salmon, and the egg. Jarrod made himself a peanut butter bread roll to eat on his way out the door.

I use the last of the kale and strawberries in a smoothie for a quick lunch. I add a scoop of protein powder to keep me full until dinner. Jarrod takes the leftover sausages and raita to work for lunch. 

We decide to venture into Chinatown, as it’s the end of Lunar New Year celebrations. Settling into a booth at Urumqi Uyghur Cuisine we start with a samsa (lightly spiced, flaky lamb pie). For the main event, we order a hand-rolled noodle stir-fry with lamb and vegetables called Laghman, as well as da pan ji. The bill is $48 and we pay for this from our date-night fund. This is a very tasty end to our weekly cycle. I stash the leftovers in the fridge and assess what we haven’t gotten to, such as the mushrooms. These will become the star of a risotto tomorrow.

At Kitchn we believe setting a food budget for you and your family is an essential part in getting your financial life in order. Don’t know where to start? We have a guide for that. Want to share your Grocery Diary with Kitchn? See how here.

Mara Weinraub

Lifestyle Editor, Groceries

Mara is the Groceries Editor at Kitchn. She’s fascinated with how we eat and what it says about our society. She lives in New York City where she stocks a minimum of three peanut butter jars in her apartment at all times.



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