Buy groceries




It probably comes as a bit of a shock when you realise that neither you nor your partner has an appointment that night.  You will be able to spend some time together, at home, in total peace.

How long has it been since you enjoyed that luxury together?

Imagine sitting at home, curled up together on the couch, glass of wine in hand and music playing in the background…

It could be romantic and it will certainly be restful.  As a busy professional couple you need to treat these rare times together as precious and not let anything interrupt them.

Turn off your mobiles.  Unplug your landline.  Turn off the computers.  Turn off the TV.

Let nothing come between you and your partner for the night.

Time alone together is rare and the last thing you want to do is to spend hours in the kitchen cooking the evening meal, but there is something so routine about ordering takeaway that it doesn’t fit the mood of the night.

All you need is some carefully selected canned food stocked in your pantry and you can whip up something simple like this Thai Style Salmon & Noodles from John West.


  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons prepared lemon grass
  • ½ small chilli finely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen Birds Eye Garden Peas or Sliced Beans
  • 210g can John West Red Salmon, drained & flaked
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • ½ x 300g packet hokkien or chow mein noodles cooked following packet directions


Step 1

Heat oil in a saucepan, add ginger, lemon grass and chilli; stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.

Step 2

Add frozen Birds Eye Garden Peas or Sliced Beans, drained John West Red Salmon and coconut milk; cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in cooked noodles, heat through for a further 1-2 minutes and serve.

Canned salmon and coconut milk, noodles in the pantry, frozen vegetables in the freezer and jars or tubes of herbs in the fridge – that’s all you need.

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Nooo! It can’t be your turn.  Surely you hosted the last party  But no, it was months ago.

Now the problem is how to set up and host a fabulous party while you and your partner are both buried in work and short on time.

Themes, catering, planning, organising…  Thank heavens your Personal Concierge can take care of it for you.  You can get all your work done, meeting your deadlines, and then swan home to the party without a care in the world.  You will look like you are superwoman.

Managing events at home take just the same amount of skill as managing events at work.  You need to know what to delegate when, and to whom.  You already have those skills so why is it that you are reluctant to use them at home?  You don’t have to BE a superwoman.  You just have to LOOK as though you are.

There will be much of the preparation that you can’t manage so the wisest things to delegate are:

  • Finding a caterer
  • Sourcing decorations for your theme
  • Arranging the delivery of the cake
  • The purchasing of gifts if required
  • Set up of the event
  • Sourcing and delivery of hired crockery and cutlery if required
  • Set up of the event space

Delegating these tasks will take the burden away and your stress levels will be back to normal.  You will be able to focus on your work, which is handy seeing it pays the bills!

Even better, though, is that by the time the party arrives you will still have enough energy left to enjoy it.

Give yourself a break.  No one needs to know what your secret it.  All they need to do is to enjoy the party, and so do you.

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Setting up the pantry can seem pretty overwhelming, particularly when you walk into your local supermarket and there are thousands of items on the shelves; all of which you seem to need.  Well, that’s what the advertising tells you.

What you really need in your pantry at all times are what we call the staples.  These are the basics that form the core of most meals. With these in your pantry you will always be able to whip up something to eat.

Two fundamental items for the pantry are rice and pasta; both of which are highly versatile and can be utilised for the main or side dishes.

Depending on your food preparation and cooking skills, and your taste preferences of course, other essentials include things like:

  • Cooking oil and olive oil
  • Sauces; tomato, soy, sweet chilli and satay.
  • Herbs and spices; Italian herbs, curry powder and various other mixed and individual herbs and spices all make your meals taste nicer.
  • Packet Mixes; a small sample is fine, like Chilli Con Carne, although many dishes can be created without packets.
  • Tins; vegies (corn, carrots, mushrooms, beans and pulses) are handy for adding to dishes, and tinned tomato is versatile and highly useful.  Don’t forget good old standby’s like baked beans and canned spaghetti.
  • Bread and toppings like Vegemite.
  • Cereals
  • Instant noodles are great for late night snacks.
  • Other; tomato paste, fish or oyster sauce, tinned or tetra pack (long life) cream are also handy essentials to have.

If you’d like a printable list to help you when you shop you can visit Grocery Lists and download a good little shopping list to keep on your fridge. ( )

There you have it; stock up on your basic staples and you’ll be able to whip up a meal even when you haven’t managed to go shopping.

Can you suggest other essentials for your pantry?

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You spend months and months preparing for the arrival of your baby. But when you come home from the hospital with a newborn in your arms you will need to be prepared in a different sense. Here are some tips for those first few days and weeks after arriving home with your baby:

Clean your house and change your sheets. You will be too tired and consumed with your new baby to worry about vacuuming and cleaning but you will be thankful coming home to a clean and tidy house and fresh sheets.

Cook extra food and freeze it. While you are still pregnant prepare extra large meals and freeze half of them. Freeze portions of pre-chopped vegetables and meat for easy preparation.

Rest when you can. You will probably often hear “rest when the baby does” and this is very wise advice. You will be exhausted when you first arrive home from hospital so take time out and get as much rest as you can.

Accept all help and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Your close friends and family will be very willing to help anyway, so delegate tasks like laundry, ironing and grocery shopping.

Ask your partner to take on more of the regular domestic chores than normal.  Most are very happy to help out but they need to be pointed in the right direction.

If your partner offers to cook dinner, just be happy that you don’t have to do it.  It’s worth a couple of overcooked meals just for the opportunity to relax for a while.  Of course, if he’s a great cook you can encourage him to keep cooking!

Don’t be afraid to ask people to go home. You will get lots of visitors so you have to be prepared to say things like “it’s time for us to rest now” when you have really had enough. If you are comfortable with the idea, leave a note posted to the front door something like “Hi, it is nice of you to visit, but my Mum and Dad are very tired. Please stay no longer than 15 minutes.”

Finally, I would like to suggest that when you are thinking of birth gifts for your wish list, you add me to it.  I can make a huge difference in your life for those first few days.  I can do anything from shopping to cooking and cleaning.

Now go and put your feet up while you can.

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Sometimes the amount you spend at the grocery store can vastly differ from one week to the next, which makes accurate budgeting very difficult. With a few simple points and a bit of practice you can perfect the art of shopping on a budget.

  • Unit pricing – recently introduced in all supermarkets, this means the cost of all items are now broken down into one base unit price, making it easier to work out most cost-effective brand to buy.
  • Plan Ahead – planning your menu for the week and writing a list will not only avoid buying items you don’t need, it will also mean you don’t forget anything. You won’t impulse buy and if you plan really carefully you can ensure no food goes to waste.
  • Buy in bulk – items such as meat (to freeze), flour, cereals, nuts and dried fruit.
  • Buy seasonal – visit your local growers or farmers market where you will not only notice a significant difference in the cost of fresh fruit and veg, the quality and freshness is far better as well.
  • Try alternatives – instead of using meat for every dish, which is the most expensive item on the grocery bill, try using lentils, beans, tofu or just add more vegetables.
  • Take advantages of specials from weekly catalogues – stock up on staples when they are on special. Once you get into this practice you will never pay full price for any of these items.
  • Shop around – get to know where certain items you buy a lot are always cheapest eg baby formula.
  • A healthy diet is usually low in processed items.  Take pre-made biscuits and packaged goods off your menu and replace them with fresh foods and you will notice a big saving.
  • If you have a busy lifestyle make sure that you stock your fridge and pantry with food that is fast to prepare.  Pasta and stir fries are fast to make and you won’t have to resort to takeaways.
  • Pay attention at the register.  Make sure you are getting your purchases at the advertised price.
  • Just because it is ‘home brand’ doesn’t mean it is bad.  Some of the staple items are actually quite good.
  • Shop towards the end of the week.  All the specials will be marked and often there are discount items beginning to appear.
  • Shop towards the end of the day (or very early in the morning depending on the way your store works) and you’ll find things which are getting close to sell by date which have been marked down.  Most items can be frozen for later use.
  • If you find that you can’t resist the treats that you see whenever you shop, think about having someone like a Personal Concierge do your shopping for you.  You’ll save on stress, time and kilojoules.

If you follow these tips and make a few adjustments to your purchasing, the amount you pay at the checkout will leave you pleasantly surprised!

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