Some people find cooking to be tedious because, from their point of view, it is not easy. Some other complaints are that it takes too much time or have to go food shopping or groceries are expensive. This can be avoided by thinking ahead and… stocking your kitchen! The cupboard, the freezer and fridge are the cornerstone of culinary preparedness.
Shopping: There is an economic reason for keeping staples in the house. It’s not even about buying in bulk, but is one way for convenience and cost. The danger in that is over eating and waste if it is not consumed. I don’t want to eat meat that’s been frozen since last 4th of July BBQ. Shop smart! Shop the sales, but don’t over buy. Where are you going to put all the groceries? Save space! Granted I shop for myself, but whether you are shopping for one or a family of 6, same concept applies. Have a plan! Write a list of things you like to make. You buy them every time you shop. Buy spices in large but manageable containers. The basics are: salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper, garlic powder, cumin. Buy other spices that apply to common meals. The spice rack will require little maintenance.
Non-Perishables: Dried goods assist in making a meal out of something that would just be an appetizer. Helping conceptualize dinner by matching sides with a main course. Spaghetti and meatballs wouldn’t be possible without the pasta, which has a long shelf life. Non-perishables include: oil, grains, pasta, canned beans and vegetables, broth, soup, flour, baking soda, bread crumbs, sugar, pancake mix and syrup, peanut butter, jelly, tomato sauce, pesto, salad dressing, balsamic and red vinegar, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, bbq sauce… you get the gist. Dry goods that may go stale if opened: tortillas, wraps, chips, bread, cereal, crackers, nuts, snacks-related items. Frozen foods can stay for a long while: pizza, veggies, meat, raviolis… anything that makes life easy so on a night you don’t feel like cooking, you won’t be eating a bag of chips for dinner.
Perishables: This is a little more tricky. Get only what you will use in the next 2 weeks or less. Planning meals before shopping is helpful. Make a list on your smart phone. That way you wont forget it at home. The essentials: eggs, butter, minced garlic, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cheese and milk. Any one of these ingredients will be in 99% of the food that you prepare. The 2nd most important: bell peppers, lime, lemon, avocado, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, fruit. The meat or meat substitute is the substance or main ingredient. This can include: chicken breast, ground beef, sausage, steak, pork, veal, deli meat, fish, tofu, soy products. There are plenty of other items that may be important to you like Sriracha. Put it on the list. I tend to get meat, specialty or anything that may perish quickly the day of to insure the quality.
Pay attention to where you shop. Do they have fresh produce consistently? Variety? Convenient location? Stocked well? Deals? Good music? Pick a place that inspires you to create delicious expressions of nourishment. Consider how much room you have and your budget. Prioritize items that are needed most. Open the door to budgeting both health and wallet. You will be surprised how much you can actually save. Now… stash away!