Lately I’ve been giving some thought to the ‘balance’ (or not) of my typical week, and the strange feeling I’m sure most of us over the age of 40 can relate to, that life is passing by too quickly, that there’s just so much left to ‘do’, and that leisure/free/family time, whatever you wish to call it, is all out of whack.
I have always assumed, as is the norm for most people, that time spent with colleagues far outweighs my time with family and friends, but this nifty little pie-chart puts it out there in glorious technicolour (thanks to www.meta-chart.com) for properly justified, hard-data style analysis (and therefore the opportunity for a good old whine-whinge-moan!)
The Pie of doom?
Those of a more advanced mathematical ability may well have noticed something odd about the above… I seem to only have 105 hours in my 7-day week…whereas I’m pretty sure most would argue there are actually 168 hours in a week (thanks to my calculator for that one). So let me add a few notes about that:
- I have generously allowed myself 8 hours’ sleep a night
- Work time includes 1) getting dressed and ready for work 2) commuting an hour each way per day 3) the me-time / unpaid lunch ‘hour’ (HA! what is that exactly?)
- Home chores/ commitments includes a small amount of housework each day, a bit more at the weekend perhaps, child-related taxi-ing, clubs and so on, and the Lidl run on a Sunday morning. From this you can deduce that there is a fine line between dirt, dust and hygiene management, and slovenliness in our house. The bare minimum and delegation are key words.
Max the free-time
It’s really the ‘free time’ element that I’m aiming to maximise (no shit, Sherlock!), and I can’t quite believe that I have 40 hours a week of it right now. I’m fairly certain it doesn’t feel like that so this might require further investigation!
The glaringly obvious way to maximise the free time, since the paid work element is currently rather stubbornly fixed due to us not having won the Lotto, is to focus on minimisation of chores.
Now to the main point of this post (at last!) – this is where the joy of #Lidl and the rise of the discount supermarkets (I love #Aldi too!) work their magic.
Some of you may be amazed to hear that, for a family of 4, occasionally 5 when the eldest is home from Uni, the full weekly shop is done in around an hour – hour and a half max, and for less than £100, 90% of the time.
There are numerous reasons for this time-money combo:
- I love food and cooking, but hate food shopping with a passion – I would rather pick stones out of my car tyres, or watch paint dry than spend any more time than is absolutely necessary in a supermarket.
- I don’t have much spare time anyway and have better things to do
- I’d rather spend my hard-earned cash on my family, hobbies, holidays, the house, than on over-priced, high margin food, despite being a self-confessed foodie and lover of good quality, fresh ingredients.
The low-cost German dream
This is where the likes of Lidl and Aldi really shine. On many levels their experiential offering is the polar opposite of the trend for warehouse style, Walmart-esque behemoths, places which take you days to get around, and in which you could lose a) a small child very easily and b) the will to live.
Lidl and Aldi are streamlined and miniaturised to perfection. Everything is just that little bit smaller; from the space itself (both inside and outside in relation to parking), to the selection of food available, and the number of tills (yes, this is a good thing, it puts some people off going in the first place, more till space for ME!)
You couldn’t spend hours in there if you tried, because there simply isn’t the vast array of stuff you’d find in Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Asda to distract you and empty your purse. Yes there’s a brilliant selection of non-food items, changing on a weekly basis (miss it once and it’s gone forever), but the emphasis is on store cupboard, fridge and freezer basic food in the most part.
I’ve always been one to cook from scratch rather than relying on ready meals, but for me the real bonus of the Lidl format is in forcing better organisation. Pre-Lidl, I may have spent hours in a faceless supermarket, spent in the region of £100-150, and still come away with only enough actual food to make 2 meals at a push. Now it’s all about the planning. On a Sunday morning you’ll find me sitting at the kitchen table, paper and pen in hand, recipe books and iPad at the ready, writing a meal plan for the week and noting down the associated ingredients. I plan meals around what I know will be available in the store. This does mean on the odd occasion that I’ve had to source more unusual ingredients from somewhere else, but I do have the benefit of a great imagination and a well-stocked spice cupboard!
If it’s not on the list, it generally doesn’t make it into the trolley. The whole round trip takes me an hour, costs me about £80-90, and the resulting meal plan for the week is attached to the oven door with a penguin magnet … ta dah!
So, thank you Lidl and Aldi for gracing the UK with your presence. I knew you well from a childhood spent with my family over in Germany, so I knew you passed muster on the quality and reliability front, and now everyone can benefit from your small prices, big quality and shiny new trollies.
Originally posted 2017-01-29 13:51:21.