Why you need to quit doing your own grocery shopping (and how)

It’s been a long, busy day. I’m tired, I’m hungry and I’d rather be anywhere else than in my local supermarket; heaving a shopping basket in my hand. Once again my lack of preparation meant that I’d picked up more than I’d probably need (I’d always been a sucker for an impulse buy!).

What’s more, my urge to get home and binge on the TV box set everyone at work had been raving about was overshadowing any inkling of inspiration I might have to cook something remotely interesting. Four cheese pizza it was; ETA for cheese-induced coma that would have me questioning why I’d done it to myself AGAIN? 10pm.

It wasn’t that I was too lazy to kick start a healthy eating plan. I’d go to the gym often enough and my lunches were relatively nutritious – they bloody ought to have been considering a decent salad in the City was costing me at least £7! But I couldn’t shake the reality (or what I thought was the reality) that eating well meant devoting the time that I, quite frankly, didn’t have. Hence why I’d once again found myself in Tesco Express lugging around a basket full of ‘sins in mins’. What I needed was an extra pair of hands. Did they sell those?

Fast forward three months and I’m sat in a meeting at work, looking particularly smug, might I add. I’ve received my email from Sainsbury’s telling me that my online shopping is going to be delivered on Sunday at 7 pm. Slave to the supermarket I am no more, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Remember that extra pair of hands I was longing for? Turns out, they are actually available (no, don’t worry, I hadn’t turned gone around dismembering the public). I’d actually hired myself an assistant; a virtual assistant from India-based service Habiliss, to be precise. Each week, Nandini plans my meals, finds healthy recipes and, along with toothpaste and any other household essentials I need, orders everything from Sainsbury’s (my favourite online supermarket).

Seven months have passed since I started working with Nandini and I can honestly say it’s the best money I’ve spent in a long time. The benefits have been off the scale, the best of which I’ve listed below.

1) People start to believe you’re actually an amazing cook. I’m not (but I am improving). While it was never my intention to deceive, it’s easily done when every day your lunch (home cooked, of course) consists of a different, culinary delight, courtesy of the millions of recipes that are hand-picked by Nandini from the internet. Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out.

2) I’ve developed a taste for foods I never even knew existed. As a creature of habit, I’d be inclined to cycle through the same recipes and foods, especially when I was busy. But, when you have someone finding inspiring recipes for you every week (and slipping those obscure ingredients into your weekly shop) it’s inevitable that you’ll soon discover new foods and fall in love with meal times again. Who’d have thought Puy lentils go so well in fajitas?

3) I’m eating better than ever (and feeling better for it). I’ve lost count of the number of failed diets and healthy eating kicks I’ve tried because I just haven’t been committed. It’s tough, especially when we’re strapped for time. It’s infinitely easier to avoid the temptation of quick supermarket meals when you have someone planning what you’re eating and ordering your food for you; so I don’t even need to be lured into that temptress of a supermarket. See no pizza, eat no pizza. It’s been as simple as that!

4) It’s not just the kitchen that’s stocked. While I mainly use my personal assistant for meal planning, they also monitor my lifestyle to work out when I’ll need my next batch of household goods too. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there; it’s time to wipe, but wait, there’s no loo roll. Later comes the passive aggressive ‘debate’ with your partner about who promised to pick it up on the way home last night. Now, we can argue about the more important things, like who dared wipe their mitts on the ‘decorative’ hand towels!

5) I’m actually spending LESS money. Shopping when you’re hungry and even just being in the supermarket means you’re more likely to buy things you don’t need. MoneySavingExpert has written a whole article about some of the ways supermarkets get us to spend more. By simply reducing the amount of time I spend in the supermarket I’m reducing the number of impulse purchases I make. I’ve also set a weekly budget with my assistant so it’s much easier to manage my outgoings. Even though I pay a fee for my assistant, I’ve found I’ve actually SAVED money overall.

What’s been one of the most enlightening experiences about hiring a virtual shopping assistant is the way that it’s overthrown the tired belief that we HAVE to spend at least an hour or two of our time in the ho-hum confines of the supermarket each week. It’s become commonplace, entrenched in our routines, and I’ve become living proof that it really needn’t be!

We’re eating better in a conscious bid to improve our well-being, isn’t it time we started shopping better too?

Editorial credit to @kay_giles.

Diary of a Wantrepreneur

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