Sunday, May 2, 2010

Filling the pantry

This week was grocery week again. The cupboards seem to get emptier each time I think. I thought I would share a little about how I get set up for shopping and cooking that saves time and money in the process. These notes come from a session that I took at a mums group.

I have always enjoyed cooking. My mother was a good cook and eating around the family table brings back fond memories. Having children of my own I am in awe of how she did it and have set out to retain the joys for myself as well as provide healthy and yummy meals for my family. How do I do it? The secret lies in the planning. While I enjoy spending time in the kitchen it just isn't practical with 4 children. So I am big on time savers and just love those one pan dinners.

The first step to getting organised is working out a meal list that you and your family enjoy. As you experiment with different things you will begin to add to and adapt it. Build on your basics. There are a lot of different sources for ideas. Once you have the list sit down and work out what you will eat for the week or fortnight. Plan around events that occur in the week such as sports evenings entertaining or easy Friday night food. Keep the list on your fridge or write it on the calendar.

You are now set to make up your grocery list for the week or as I do fortnight. I have made up a standard list of all the things that I routinely buy. I go through each of the meals that I am going to make and check off the ingredients to make sure I have the things on hand. I then work through the things that I have written on my fridge list and any other items that I need to get. Because the list is in the order of the supermarket I shop at it makes shopping even faster (especially with little ones). Be sure to include items for extra events or entertaining. The key here is home cooked always goes down a treat and will have your guests impressed. Try pizza add hot chips and a salad or hamburgers. Guests can make their own how they like it. For deserts pancakes or a fruit crumble are always enjoyed.

It does take a while to get into the process of doing it, but is well worth the effort. In the end you don't have to worry about what you are having for the week. You can also do preparation the night before by taking out the meat for the following day and/or getting ingredients ready.

The key to preparing great meals is being set up for success. I have a little pantry space and kitchen that is really on its last legs, but I have set it up so that I can prepare meals easily even when my littlies want to join in and help. I have the tools and ingredients that I use on a regular basis at hand. I also make good use of those must have kitchen appliances (Kitchen whiz, bread maker, stick whiz) Other regular use items such as breakfast ingredients and baking ingredients are stored on trays that can be pulled out used and put back without too much fuss.

When it comes to getting a meal ready I start by getting out all the ingredients and tools that I need so I don't have to go looking for them in the middle of cooking. Do as much of the preparation as you can before you start cooking eg: peeling, chopping, grating. If you have the bench space sometimes this can be easier to do earlier in the day.

Thats kind of it in a nutshell. You really have to see the process in action.It sounds really organised and I guess it is. But I live by Stephen Covey's idea that it is a habit of highly effective people. In life you have to be intentional about what you want in order to make time for the things that you really want to do. Leave a comment or email me at if you have any questions or want to know more. I would love to pass on what I have found useful. I would also love to know how you organise your shopping as I am always looking for ideas. I will be posting more later about recipes I use and how to get your kids eating more of the things you would like them to. There isn't much our boys won't eat.

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