So, I’ve been thinking, and grocery shopping is actually quite demanding if you think of it.
First, you have to raid your fridge and cupboards to see what’s left and what’s good.
Second, you have to kind of plan what you actually want to eat for the next 4 to 6 days (not including the meals you wont make).
Third, you have to write up the list of ingredients you’ll need for the recipes and snacks you want to make and have.
Fourth, you have to grab your shopping bags, bus pass, car keys, bike, jackets, boots, etc. and get out that door and go.
Fifth, EAT BEFORE YOU LEAVE. You all know what I mean. Going shopping on an empty stomach = unhappy wallet.
Sixth, at the store, sift through the produce to find the best looking fruits and veggies, find the best deals on meats, read all those labels on the boxes and packages (that you should technically not be buying).
Seventh, get all of that back home.
Eighth, take the time to wash and prep foods.
That last step is, for me, one of the most important things to do, after eating before shopping. When you already have a semi-solid meal plan for the week, taking that extra hour to wash and cut up your celery, carrots, peppers, etc., and put them in tupperwares in your fridge, or making that one big batch of soup, it makes life so much easier. It literally saves you a good two hours every night (washing-prepping-cooking-cleaning) so you can watch that extra tv show, fit in that extra hour of studying or gym time.
Tip #2 : What to stock up on, and what to leave to last minute buys
When I go shopping, I usually have a fairly set meal plan that I try to follow closely. Living alone and cooking for one has a lot of benefits, since it will cost you a lost less to feed yourself, and all those yummy leftovers get to be tomorrow’s lunch, or even next week’s TV dinner.
Stock up on
– Canned beans, tomatoes, fish, etc.
When buying, look for the low sodium (PC Blue Menu is great) , which has great health benefits, but also look for deals. Yeah spending 6$ on three cans of chickpeas might seem a lot, and what are you to do with 3 cans?! but trust me, it’s super handy to have!
– Rice, quinoa, pasta, dried beans, etc.
You can never have too much of these. Well maybe, but it’s always great to have on hand. For those who haven’t really tried, Quinoa is a great grain, and a lot tastier than plain white basmati rice. It has a slightly nutty taste, and you can actually eat it for breakfast lunch and supper. You can also make granola with it too (RECIPE TO COME)
– Frozen meats (chicken, ground turkey, steaks, fish, fish, fish and more fish)
If you’re not a red meat lover, or you’re trying to cut down on it, I highly suggest buying a variety of fishes and chicken bits to have on hand. I’ve recently noticed the prices of chicken breasts (sometimes 2 for 14$!!!) can be quite crazy, so I try to either buy bulk or but chicken thighs, which amount to the same price but you actually get 3 or 4 meals out of them.
Quick tip if you’re buying bulk. Take 10 minutes when you get home to divide them into portions. If there are 6 thighs in a pack, and you’re solo, divide them into three freezer friendly zip-lock bags so that you don’t have to thaw and cook all of them when you feel like having chicken (or other)
– Spices and herbs
A little goes a long way, so does a lot! I try to buy the bulk baggies of spices and put some in spice jars and freeze the rest. That way, I always have some on hand and my food never gets boring,
Also, if you’re like me and garlic is pretty much in every single dish you prepare, and you tend to have panic attacks when there is none in the house, buy the powdered stuff. Sure it’s not the best, but look for the powdered garlic that doesn’t have anything in it but garlic, and put it in the freezer. That way your ass is covered
– Cooking and baking essentials
Parchment paper is your new best friend. Seriously. I use it for everything! When baking breads, cookies, or cooking things in the oven, using parchment paper instead of oils or butters will cut down on the not-necessarily-always-needed-fats-and-grease. And also make friends with zip-lock baggies. They don’t need to be name brand, they just need to stay shut.
Remember those silly parties our mom’s used to throw in our living rooms with her best friends and they would all rave about how great these things are… well they were right. You might have one cupboard full of them, and they all come crashing down when you open the door, or have them neatly placed in a drawer, but whatever you do, invest in some that the lids shut tight and don’t leak. If you get the snap on lids, there’s usually a rubber band around the mouth of them to seal them shut. Please make sure you can remove that to wash it, if you don’t, mold build up. GROSS. Investing in glass dishes is great for meats and sauces because the sauces and juices wont leach into the plastic, which in turn discolours it and gives it a funny smell.
I wont really go into further details about all the other essential things you should have in your kitchen, but if you’re curious, I’ve pulled out a link to my best buddy’s (Jamie Oliver) website. He has loads of useful tips and tricks for items you should stock up on. http://www.jamieoliver.com/products/home/
Hopefully this has been a little helpful. If ever there’s something I’m missing, let me know!