food

What's in my trolley: A 20-year-old "serial organiser" shares her $70 grocery shop.

What's in my trolley is Mamamia's look into the weekly grocery shop of Australian women. From food to everyday essentials, here's a peek at what different people are putting in their trolleys. This week, Sydneysider Emma shares her week in meals and snacks.

When I moved out of home and into a share house a few months ago, grocery shopping came as a huge shock to me.

In the good old days when my money wasn't going towards rent, it was going straight to Uber Eats and the cafe next door to my office. 

It took one week of having an empty fridge and pantry to realise spending *checks notes* $200 (!!!) a week on takeaway food is completely unsustainable.

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So, I went through a bit of an overhaul. 

I'm a typical gen Z-er. Cooking is not a natural skill to me - in fact, far from it.

Raised on tuckshop money and Dominos pizza at least twice a week (please, don't @ me), navigating the local Coles or Woolies was a skill I'd yet to master. But as you do in your 20s, I had to adapt and overcome. 

After a few weeks of experimenting (who knew how quickly fresh produce went bad?!) I think I've nailed the weekly shop, all for less than $80.

Here's how I do it.

First and foremost, I'm a serial organiser. 

No, really

Planners, spreadsheets, lists: I utilise them all. 

So, it came as second-nature to me to whip up a quick meal plan template once I decided I was going to try this whole 'meal-prep-homemade-dinners' thing. 

It looks a bit like this: 

Image: Supplied.

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Every Sunday I make it a super fun ritual to do my laundry, clean the house and plan my meals for the week ahead to save thinking about it in my workday.

Once I've got my food planned, I convert my daily meals into a grocery list. That of course goes into my iPhone notes and is categorised by section of the shop. 

Image: Supplied.

It took me far too many chaotic grocery shops to realise random, stream-of-conciousness lists without the categorical order just don't work. I'd always forget something.

This way is great! 

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I live around the corner from a shopping centre with both an ALDI and Coles. So, I start off in ALDI where I grab most of my fresh produce, dairy, snacks (when I have them) and frozen things, then head downstairs to purchase my meat, and a few of the brands I'm particular about from Coles.

There are a few other things I need to factor into my shop. 

We have limited space in our beautiful, small share house, so no buying in bulk. Our second hand fridge has issues if it gets too full, so where I can substitute something in the pantry, I try to.

Now you've seen the list and know the ins and outs of my decision-making, you can check out how tempted I was by the wonders of the grocery store. Here's what I bought this week.

Image: Supplied.

Note the very limited counter space and my flatmate's vegetarian cookbooks. 

In hindsight, this particular photo manages to conceal my many tomato varieties. I've got a four pack of truss tomatoes in there, mini vine-ripened tomatoes to roast, and cherry tomatoes in there too. Don't be fooled.

I don't usually purchase much meat because I'm lazy and cooking is tricky, but this week I have both steak AND mince meat in there. I also bought ham and tuna, and buy fresh fish on the day I'll be cooking it, but that's usually mid-week, so I don't include it in my Sunday shop.

Other honourable mentions from this shop are the surplus of veggies which I roast up after work early in the week, and the lack of random snacking food. It seems like I subbed out "ice cream sandwiches" for snow peas and I'll take that as a win.

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For a more comprehensive look, here are my receipts (Sydney raindrops and all):

Image: Supplied.

Here are the essentials that get me through the week. 

Dairy Farmers Thick and Creamy Classic Vanilla Yoghurt, topped with Angas Park Energy Boost mix.

Image: Supplied.

I know, I know.

This isn't the most nutritionally sound yoghurt on the market, but I really struggle with breakfast and my vanilla yoghurt/dried fruit combo makes me happy first thing in the morning. 

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I usually buy one tub that is 600g and it's all I need for Monday-Friday brekkies. it wasn't a part of my shop today because I purchased two tubs last week as they were on special and the best before isn't until April! 

Look at me being all savvy.

I add a handful of this particular dried fruit pack to my yogurt and am good to go. A very easy first feed of the day.

Image: Supplied.

John West Deli Tuna Extra Virgin Olive Oil Blend.

Image: Supplied.

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Tuna is a such a staple in my cupboard and being raised on Sirena (the privilege!), I am fairly picky about what brand. 

So, when I saw this John West 'Deli Tuna', (it's been on special for weeks), I decided I'd give it a go, and it is a complete dupe for the expensive stuff!

I'll slam a tin of tuna most days with rice or in salads for my workday lunches. 

It's filling and packed with protein. You can't go wrong!

Barilla Spaghettini No.3.

Image: Supplied.

Another food I won't skimp on is my pasta varieties. 

The width of my spaghetti matters, and this particular one makes a great base for a rocket and cherry tomato salad I make when my housemates want a communal feed! 

Super quick, easy and delish.

So there you go! 

I'm certainly no grocery expert, but I'll find any excuse to share my progress. 

If you've got any tips on how to make meal prepping and grocery shopping easier, share them below - and if you’d like to share your grocery shop, send us an email at [email protected] and put ‘What’s in my trolley’ in the subject line. 

Feature Image: Supplied.