Thursday, April 19, 2012

Groceries and taking stock. Literally.

I go to the grocery store every day. Almost. In a seven day period, someone in our household steps foot inside of a grocery store at lease five times. Frequently twice in one day. We have our reasons.
  1. We like fresh food and fresh food doesn't keep quite as long so like the French we tend to buy the ingredients for the meal we're making the day of the meal based on what we're feeling that day.
  2. Waleed drinks a gallon of organic whole milk every 3 days [and my regular chai habit doesn't help in the frequent milk depletion either]
  3. When I do plan meals for the next few days because I'm so tired of daily driving to the grocery store, strapping in the kiddo, unstrapping him, sticking him in the cart and making sure said kiddo doesn't reach out and topple a carefully created pyramid of pasta, I head to the store, shop for all the ingredients and then return home only to realize I forgot the gobee for the aloo gobee.
In all fairness I enjoy the grocery store. Something about it feels meditative. I love the possibilities that lie within, all the amazing food that could be made and I love seeing my son's eyes light up when the baker hands him a cookah, the consumption of which brings him pure rapture like nothing else. The only thing is while being there is great, its not always easy especially while living in a condo where I have no garage in which to corral my little guy and must take bags of groceries up flights of stairs while making sure my son doesn't actually dart for the squirrel playing chicken with a driver barreling down the middle of the road.

So my question to you is: How often do you grocery shop? How do you do your groceries? What logical plan of attack do you follow to make meals without having the UPS guy heading to Whole Foods to deliver your packages? What solid staple of foods do you keep around from which many meals can be made with ease minimizing trips to the store? Or--- is this just the way is is? We make daal with rice once a week, a great comfort food made of ingredients that keep for seemingly years. Just trying to figure out how to perhaps increase my stock and reduce my time perusing potatoes. Any advice much appreciated!

21 comments:

jenicini said...

We do a once a week shopping trip because we drive an hour to shop. We do this by choice because food is really expensive at the stores close to us but much less on the military base. To add to this, produce in Alaska really really blows. So, I have had to adjust my Californian food mindset to allow for meals at the end of the week that don't rely on food that spoils quickly. We stock an incredible amount of staples like black beans, rice, pasta, diced tomatoes... At first I thought my husband was crazy to create such a pantry, but I now love love love it. :D

hausmilleradventure said...

When we were living in the States we would make 1 big weekly trip for the usuals and a few other small trips for other little ingredients for supper that night that we didn't have (because of the close proximity of numerous grocery stores it was easy to do this on the way home from work).

Now that we're living in Germany, in a super small village that doesn't have a grocery store or bakery, it is more planned out. I meal plan for the week and then I have to go to at least 2 stores to get everything we like to eat. There's usually at least 2 bakery visits a week (sometimes LOTS more...I can't get enough of German soft pretzels). If we had a store in our village I'm sure I would visit it closer to daily and not stock up the refrigerator so much. And our refrigerator is the size of a dorm fridge so it's hard to get everything in after a grocery trip! I call it refrigerator tetris.

Like jenicini said, we keep pasta, pasta sauce, tomatoes, beans and rice in stock always. And bread, cans of tuna, can of veggies (for quick go-to if no fresh is available), usually cheese is always on hand.

sprogblogger said...

Now that we're in the land of grocery stores, vs. the land of butchers/bakers/candlestick makers, I try to shop once a week (though I've been known to dash to the store last minute when I - yeah - forget the gobee part of the meal.

I meal plan, and freeze all meat that I'll be eating 2+ days away, so it stays fresh. I always buy fresh fish on the day we use it, and we usually have emergency meal stuff--chicken cutlets in the freezer, beans, frozen veggies--on hand if the meal I was planning on is just too much work for some reason. It's almost impossible for me to shop ahead if I don't plan out our week's meals, though. I couldn't do it otherwise.

Aisha said...

Jenicini, oh wow! I could imagine Alaska might be tougher to get fresh produce from. . . do they import everything or have greenhouses? Thanks for sharing your own personal experience if your'e from Cali I can imagine its tough to readjust!

Hausermiller, oh wow, the thought of a baker in walking distance sounds so charming! We have a baker near us too but the quality is just average. . . i'm super impressed that with a small fridge you manage to fit so many things inside. . . makes me more motivated to manage to stock up a bit better!

Susan, So do you just buy a bunch of milk when you go out? I could do that I guess, buy two gallons, the only reaosn I currently don't is, its hard to lug it all up stairs with the rest of the groceries, but emergency meal stuff is a great idea like all the others aid. I mentally did a list and there's a ton I could just have on hand always like ou suggested such as frozen meats frozen vegetables potatoes [which last forever] and onions and pasta that all keep forever and you can make meals from them. Thanks for the suggestions!!!

hausmilleradventure said...

It almost always requires that we take out 3 things to get to the 1 thing we want in the fridge. Oh, well. It's just how life is for us here. If I could change it I would have a larger freezer so I could make and freeze some meals or have frozen veggies on hand. It has taught me to plan meals to use the biggest things from the fridge first. :)

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

I love grocery shopping and loved reading that it gets easier when babies are old enough to enjoy cookahs :) We try to keep our pantry stocked and will admit to having a few boxes of frozen pizza on hand! Oh, and eggs. You can build many a meal if you have eggs around :)

katery said...

we do a big huge shopping trip every two weeks, but in between that, there are many trips to the store for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, sometimes, just to get out of the house. i wish i could give you some cooking advice, but my husband is the chef in this family, he actually went to culinary arts school.

Mina said...

I also go grocery shopping almost every day. But that is because I have plenty of shops around, I can't plan ahead to save my life and George loves helping me. We have favourite bakeries for different produce, one for croissants, one or bred, one for cakes, but than God all have great pretzels, which I swear are baby crack. And are best on the day they are baked.
We have some emergency stuff in the freezer, but rarely go that route. It is emergency alright, like when my boys were sick and I couldn't go shopping.

Anonymous said...

We do one big shopping trip a week, but end up going again about twice during the week. I admit, during the winter (we're in Eastern Canada), I sometimes took the kids grocery shopping as a way to get out of the house.
We always have a well-stocked freezer (veggies, bread plus meals. We usually cook enough to freeze a portion of whatever freezable meals we cook). In our pantry, you'll find a stock of canned tomatoes, a variety of beans and lentils, pasta, canned coconut milk and of course onions and garlic.
If I had to, I could probably make it through two weeks without grocery shopping (well, except for milk) by using the stuff we have in the freezer and pantry.
We don't do meal plans. The meal plan usually develops in the store, based on the veggies available :-) And of course, there are those favourite meals we end up cooking almost every week in some variation.

Natalie

Aisha said...

LOL Hausmiller, I could see how that would happen! hope you get a bigger fridge at some point in your cooking future! :)

Azmina, I would LOVE to read a blog post about the different dinner dishes that eggs can help create! Please! :)

Kate, in some ways its nice to get out like you said for a reason to leave the house and get some fresh air, but at the same time this week we went to the grocery store SEVEN times. . . which is a bit much, LOL :-/

Aisha said...

Mina, are all these shops walkable from where you are? That sounds so lovely! A bread shop! A pastry shop! How nice!! And glad to hear I'm not the only one :)

Natalie, thanks for all the great tips! Like you, its hard to plan ahead for me too. I might make a plan one week for XYZ but then I might not feel like one of those things on that day. Btw- is bread freezable? Does it keep? I always have the issue of having bread going bad but I thought it might not defrost well.

katery said...

wow, seven times is a lot!

Aisha said...

Kate, its crazy :( Monday was major shopping stock up for the week, Tuesday I realized I forgot onions for a soup, Wednesday I got sick so went to get soup, Thursday I went twice when I forgot the cauliflower for my dish and then he was running low on milk, and today I went to Whole Foods to get some herbs I like and his bubble bath shampoo and then to Publix to get some peanuts for a dish I forgot included peanuts. LOL. This is entirely too much!!!

Mina said...

Some of them are within walking distance, others are two bus stops away or five minutes by car. Having had loads of rain lately, we took the car. But I can't wait for the time when we can cycle our way there. Perhaps not quite that soon though. Or this year. But next year for sure. :-)

rehtwo said...

aisha - bread does freeze decently, but there's the freezer burn issue if you leave it there too long. living alone, I can never go through a loaf quickly, and find that keeping it in the fridge actually works pretty well.

Aisha said...

Mina, sounds absolutely charming! That's a suburb I could love!

Rehtwo, oh wow long time no see :) Yes, that must have been what happened when I once froze bread-- freezer burn-- it just never tasted right. Thanks for the fridge tip!

Anonymous said...

Bread freezes well. Just make sure it's really fresh when you freeze it. We usually portion it - not necessarily slices, but junks that would be enough for, say, a family meal - and only defrost what we use immediately. You can defrost in the microwave (or of course toast the bread) but it turns out best in my opinion if you have a little toaster oven. I love crunchy bread! You should definitely try and figure out what works best for your bread needs :-)

Natalie

Aisha said...

Natalie, great ideas!!! I love white bread for french toast but I always refrain from making it because it goes bad quick and the loafs are HUGE-- will try to freeze in portions as you suggested, great idea! Thanks :)

awomanmyage said...

Hate to say it but I hate grocery shopping. I've had to make lists since becoming a mother because time is precious and I just can't keep running out to get stuff on a whim, but I still forget stuff. So I've been trying to plan a bit, also to save money cause every time I stop by the store to pick up one thing, it's $50 dollars later and I'm back at the store again in 2 days. I've come to dislike cooking, so I try to make meals that will last more than one meal and I also buy frozen entrees. So far I've added meatloaf and meatballs to my repetoire. I always try to have on hand canned tomatoes( good for curries, stews), canned coconut milk (curries once again), pasta (casserole anyone?) and frozen peas and carrots (yup, casserole time and the kid will eat tiny peas and carrots). We're not a family who likes a lot of leftovers and I hate freezing things cause they tend to stay frozen for months at a time. The only things I will freeze are leftover canned tomatoes.

awomanmyage said...

Also, if i could order food online I would do it no problem (alas, I have would have to use my credit card which is never a good idea for me) and I'd never have an excuse to go out. Hubby thinks ordering groceries online is freakish, but one day... I will.

Minhaj Arifin said...

Aisha I think its great that you go to the grocery store so many times! Whole Foods is paradise on earth, specially the brick oven area where they make pizzas.

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