published about 9 hours ago
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Number of people in family: 3; my partner M and me (both 34), and our son J (3 months)
Occupation: I’m on maternity leave from my job in buying and my partner works in tech innovation.
Where did you shop? Lidl, The Good Neighbour (a nearby zero-waste store), and Supervalu
Weekly food budget: €100
Amount spent: €98.20
Editors’ note: At publication time, $1 was equal to $1.02 Euros.
We live in Dublin city and have a wide selection of grocery stores nearby. This week convenience won out and I went to our closest supermarket, Lidl, for the main shop. I picked up a few more things at The Good Neighbour, our local zero-waste store, and did top-up shops in Supervalu later in the week. I do sometimes order online delivery, but I was too late this week to get the delivery slot I needed.
What’s your grocery strategy?
I absolutely love cooking and baking and try to make most of our meals from scratch. I keep a shopping checklist in the notes app of my phone for all the items we regularly purchase, so I can quickly mark anything we need before leaving the house. I keep a separate running list of anything out of the ordinary that I want to pick up.
I do check the special offers before I shop, but I try not to buy something just because it’s on offer — only if it’s something we actually need. That being said, I would buy extra of something to freeze if it’s a particularly good deal.
I’m on maternity leave from work, so my pay is significantly reduced. This is our first time actually trying to stick to a grocery budget, and I fully expect to have to adjust this figure as inflation continues to rise. In Ireland, the average prices of staples like butter, milk, and bread are already 28% higher than they were this time last year, so I am being much more intentional with what I buy and how it’s used.
We love eating out, but it’s not in the cards for us right now, so we have been eating nearly every meal at home. For this reason we need to build in flexibility and variety so as to not get totally bored. On the other hand, since the baby arrived I have less time and energy for testing out new recipes and have been repeating a lot of easy one-pan meals.
My strategy at the moment is to come up with a meal plan to cover us for about 70% of the week and then decide what sounds good for the other 30% of the time on the fly. (In the past I would write a week-long meal plan, then become inspired by a new recipe and it would all go out the window mid-week, defeating the purpose entirely.) This gives us a framework to take some of the brain work out of feeding ourselves on a busy day, but allows enough flexibility so we don’t end up wasting food if inspiration strikes.
I have a few things left over from last week to use up, including feta cheese, cabbage, and red onions. Also we have still have some produce from the garden: spinach, kale, tomatoes, apples, and herbs.
Monday: Greek Yoghurt, Porridge, Kale and Spinach Omelettes, and Chili
I had great intentions of grocery shopping first thing this morning but the baby kept me awake half the night. My partner, M, gets up with him and lets me sleep in for an extra couple of hours so I feel more human when I do surface. With a little baby, sometimes sleep has to take priority over errands.
M starts working from home and I juggle J while I make myself an Americano with oat milk and throw together breakfast. I have a bowl of Greek yoghurt with chopped apple, oats, peanuts, and raisins. M has porridge made from pinhead oatmeal and buckwheat topped with milk and honey.
When J is ready for his first nap of the day I head out with the stroller to get a few jobs ticked off the list. On our way home we stop off at The Good Neighbour to refill some of our empties.
When M breaks for lunch he takes J so I can make a dash to the supermarket. I head to Lidl, which is our closest shop and I know the layout so I can be quick. Unfortunately, a few items from my list aren’t in stock, but I get what I can and hurry home.
Lunch is omelettes using some kale and spinach (from the garden, sautéed) along with grated cheddar and chopped tomato. I serve it on top of rye toast. Both myself and M snack on bread during the day. I have PB&J; he sticks to straight-up bread and butter.
Dinner is a chili made with beef, onion, carrot, tomato, peppers, red lentils, and black beans (cooked up from dried in the Instant Pot). I use the smoked paprika I got today, as well as a ton of other spices I already had on hand. We eat the chili alongside some rice (spiked with turmeric purely for a nice yellow colour), quick-picked red onions, grated cheese, and Greek yoghurt.
After putting the baby to bed, I poke around looking for something sweet and end up eating some dark cooking chocolate. Must buy snacks tomorrow. I throw half the almonds into the air fryer for a few minutes to dry roast, and have a handful of them too.
Tuesday: Overnight Oats, Greek Yoghurt, Leftover Chili, Cucumber Black Bean Salad, Spinach and Chickpea Stew, and Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins
M is working at his office today so he heads off in the early morning, taking along overnight oats for breakfast and leftover chili for lunch.
J is in a great mood this morning and happily watches me make a batch of energy balls in the food processor (dates, oats, peanut butter, milk). I will be grazing on these all week.
Breakfast is a similar situation to yesterday: a bowl of Greek yoghurt topped with chopped apple, oats, and roasted almonds, and a coffee. The baby has a surprisingly long nap, so I make Smitten Kitchen’s breakfast cake, using up a few apples from the garden. I get distracted while it was in the oven, so the colour is a bit dark!
I make cucumber black bean salad for myself for lunch. I start to make soup, but only get as far as peeling some carrots before the baby needs me, so I also eat some raw carrots. We pop out for an afternoon walk and return books to the library. I drop in to Supervalu on the way home to pick up the oat milk I couldn’t get at Lidl yesterday. I also impulse buy beer and chocolate chips.
My sister-in-law drops by with a bottle of wine and a box of mini chocolate chip muffins as a thank-you gift for babysitting my niece and nephew last weekend. It’s lovely to see her; we catch up over a cup of tea before she heads home.
M arrives back from work. For dinner I make this spinach and chickpea stew. (I replace the sun-dried tomatoes with chopped tomato, add curry powder and use spinach from the garden), and we eat it with couscous. After dinner, we have a beer and more than one mini muffin (the exact number is not important).
Wednesday: Overnight Oats, Toast, Leftovers for Lunch, Breakfast Cake, and Enchiladas
M is up and out early today again. He takes his overnight oats and some leftovers for lunch. He also eats sandwiches and fruit provided free at a work event he attends. I have toast with peanut butter and raspberry jam for breakfast.
I have friends coming over this afternoon, so while the baby naps I spend the morning frantically cleaning the house to bring it up to a reasonable “guest standard.” I snack on all sorts of bits and bobs: almonds, energy balls, mini muffins. For lunch I have the leftover cucumber black bean salad. My girlfriends arrive with their adorable babies; a lovely time is had catching up over coffee and breakfast cake and snacks that they bring over.
Dinner today is enchiladas. For the filling I use up the leftover chili, black beans, and rice, adding in some more sautéed onions and peppers, with plenty of cheddar cheese. I make a quick enchilada sauce and top the dish with cheddar and feta. I have forgotten that M is getting home late from work today, so J is my charming dinner companion. I eat chocolate chips for dessert. When M gets home he has enchiladas and a beer while we chat about our days.
In the middle of the night when I’m up nursing J and starving, I snaffle some cake. This is how a lot of the snack food disappears in this house.
Thursday: Crepes, Leftover Enchiladas, and Feta Tomato Pasta
The baby slept exceptionally well last night! I have so much energy I decide to make crepes for breakfast in celebration. I always go with the same recipe my brother uses: 110 grams flour, 2 eggs, and 300 milliliters milk. The first pancake is a sticky disaster (naturally) but once the cast iron skillet is sufficiently heated they come out well.
M and I each have one cheese and tomato crepe, then he makes himself one with an egg cracked on top. I finish off the batter and have a traditional lemon, butter, and sugar number. M makes cappuccinos for us. I usually just drink Americanos with milk because I haven’t had much success with the steam wand on the espresso maker, but he is a dab hand at any number of milky coffees.
Lunch for both of us is reheated enchiladas. They taste better today because I made the sauce very spicy and it’s had a chance to mellow out. The spice refills I get in the Good Neighbour are so much stronger and fresher than what I buy from the supermarket and I always forget to take that into account when using the cayenne and chili flakes.
For dinner I’m making the TikTok famous feta tomato pasta. I roast the cherry tomatoes, feta and garlic in a dish in the air fryer so I can avoid turning on the oven for such a small job. I toss it with fusilli and the last of the basil from the garden. We crack open a bottle of wine and have a lovely meal. The baby even sits with us happily (however briefly) — a sign of family dinners to come hopefully!
Friday: Scrambled Eggs on Toast, a Quick Salad, Leftover Enchiladas, Caramelised Onion and Cabbage Risotto
It’s scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast today. In an effort to avoid having to scrub the skillet, I attempt an omelette method. It’s disrespectful to the spirit of scrambled eggs and I end up with something that tastes like it was cooked in a microwave. Also I added an extra egg white, as I need the spare yolk for a recipe I’m baking later — that only makes it more bland. We eat it, but I don’t take a photo. Coffee, of course.
I take J out for a long walk in his stroller, so when I get home I’m hungry. I make a quick salad (chickpeas, peppers, tomatoes, and red onion) with a sweet and spicy dressing (olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and cumin). It’s fresh and zingy, but not quite filling enough so we also finish off the leftover enchiladas.
We’re going to a party tomorrow, which gives me the perfect excuse to make my current favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I already ate all the chocolate chips (whoops), so I chop the whole bar of dark chocolate into chunks and fold that in. I prefer chopping up bars of chocolate to using chips anyway, I find it gives a better flavour. The dough rests overnight in the fridge.
It’s caramelised onion and cabbage risotto for dinner tonight from Smitten Kitchen’s second cookbook. It sounds a bit too wholesome and my photo doesn’t do it justice (good luck to any risotto influencers out there), but honestly it’s delicious. We don’t skimp on the butter and Parmesan. I might have eaten a bit of cookie dough for dessert.
Saturday: Greek Yoghurt, Leftover Stew, Party Snacks, and Buttered Toast
I’m up super early with J, seeing as how I kindly offered to let M sleep in (instant regret). I have a coffee and a banana while we play. For breakfast I make up bowls of Greek yoghurt, chopped apple, toasted seeds, and almonds.
I sip an iced oat milk coffee while I scoop the cookie dough into tall cylinders as described in the recipe. Into the oven and … one half of cookies spread all over the cookie sheet and come out looking a bit of a mess. The other half are fine. It is pretty typical that this would happen if you’re planning to bring them to a party. They still taste great.
For lunch we heat up the leftover chickpea spinach stew and pile it on top of toasted rye bread.
We head to the Halloween party in the late afternoon. It’s unseasonably warm and dry, so we decide to walk. We stop off on the way to pick up a box of beer to bring with us.
The hosts have gone all out with amazing spooky decor, food, and cocktails. I snack on the cheese board, spinach and feta pie, and chips. (I’m happy to see my cookies get eaten too). We have an excellent time catching up and introducing J to everyone (his first party!). Later on we walk home, stopping in Supervalu (again) on the way to pick up food for tomorrow.
We aren’t hungry for dinner this evening but I do get a bit peckish before bed so I have buttered toast and a lot of icy sparkling water.
Sunday: Toast, Classic Irish Salad Plate, Oat Cookies, Cowboy Steak, and Roast Potatoes and Carrots
Breakfast is oat flat whites and toast: peanut butter and grape jelly for me; peanut butter and gochujang for M.
We go out for a long walk; it’s a gorgeous crisp autumn day. The clocks went back last night so we are thrown off this morning, wondering why we are so hungry for lunch a full hour earlier than usual. We have a classic Irish salad plate, consisting of sliced ham (from the fillet cooked this morning in the Instant Pot), potato salad, tomatoes, cucumber, boiled eggs and a side salad (the last of the endive leaves from the garden dressed with a simple vinaigrette). It’s true that an Irish salad is mostly meat and potatoes. We have a pot of tea with this (Irish readers may wonder so I just need to mention somewhere that we are firmly a Barry’s brand tea household).
I do some gardening later on as J naps, finally getting all the spring bulbs I bought weeks ago planted in the ground. I’ve already forgotten where I planted them so it will be a nice surprise when they emerge next year.
Realising that there is nothing sweet left in this house I decide to make one of my favourite oat cookie recipes. Sadly I have no chocolate chips, but I do have redskin peanuts (which I roast well before adding in). It’s no chocolate, but the result is very tasty! Also to any fellow breastfeeding mothers out there, you can make these into lactation cookies by adding in 3 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast and 2 tablespoons of milk.
Dinner is a lovely treat of cowboy steak (a bone-in ribeye that caught our eye at the butcher counter yesterday), seared and then finished in the air fryer. M cooks this up along with some roast potatoes and carrots. He also makes a sauce using sweet cherry tomatoes from the garden. It’s the only dinner M cooks this week and it is by FAR the most delicious. The daylight savings change means that baby J goes to bed an hour early, so M and I take the time to chill out and chat. It’s a relaxing end to another great week.