Have you ever wondered what the hell you were going to eat for dinner? You open therefrigerator and find it empty or maybe you have food in the freezer but who wants to wait forit to thaw and prepare a meal when you are hungry now. Next thing you know you are on thephone ordering delivery again. This used to happen to me all the time and I didn’t think about it too much and then I went back to school and discovered I was allergic to milk. Going back to school meant that there was not as much money for restaurants and delivery, second not being able to eat any milk or milk products meant I couldn’t trust food I didn’t prepare. It was at this point I started planning my meals and at one point lunches (I was gone all day between work and school) and boy did it save me from tater tot dinners.
First decide what your shopping style is. When I lived in the city I did weekly shopping trips and would use the ads and sales to plan my meals. Now I live in the middle of nowhere and we go to Costco monthly and hit the local grocery when in town if we need to. Remain flexible when shopping it fresh produce looks bad at the store it is not going to get any better once you get it home, don’t buy it and change your plan if you have to.
Determine what your staples are. What foods do you enjoy eating? Which cuisines? What are your favorite dinner recipes? Once you figure that out you will have a better idea of which items you need to keep on hand. Canned tomatoes, pasta, rice, chicken, pork shoulder, and frozen vegetables are some of my staples.
Keep spices and herbs on hand. I find this let’s you experiment more easily and try new recipes. Build up your spices and herbs if you do not have a good supply on hand. Many of them are used by more than one culture so if you like Mexican and Middle Eastern food cumin and coriander will be good spices to have on hand.
Collect your favorites and make them easy to find. Food magazines are a great resource for finding new recipes but it is not fun having to sit down with a big stack of them trying to find one recipe. I’ve been there before. I started pulling out the recipes I use. My three ring binder with plastic sheaths has saved me so much time. If the magazine is a special issue or has several recipes I use, I write “keep” on the front and put it with the cookbooks. Find a few basic cookbooks you like, or in my case add a few more to your collection.