Tuesday, April 1, 2008

grocery shopping for the culinarily challenged

i often go shopping for groceries with friends who cook maybe one or two things. they never know what to get. they then end up getting drinks, junk food, sandwich stuff, and pasta. its all fine, but after a couple times of that, they tend to start eating out again. there seems to be a hump for these people where they can never get into the habit of eating in.

its hard to figure out what to get if you dont know how to make anything. you mostly try to cook by recipe. the problem is you're never going to the supermarket with a tome of them. as you stand amidst the overwhelming aisles of produce, it is hard to not be a deer in headlights.  

the first step is to not be afraid that you wont know what to do with what you buy. let's assume you have no idea what to get. well, what do you like to eat? by that, i dont mean particular dishes, but rather, ingredients. for example, i like chicken, and being asian, i prefer dark meat. i always get a bunch of thighs. be sure to store them in meal sizes (two or three pieces) in freezer bags and store them for later. do this for your meats, vegetables and carbs. unfortunately , vegetables and certain fresh carbs (breads, fresh pasta, unfrozen bagels, etc) have a shorter shelf life than meats, so you may not want to buy as much and make another trip to the grocery store.

once you get all that stuff, then you can start thinking about what to cook. to help, there are a lot of sites and chefs that specialize in simple meals. after you've done this a few times, you can start making your own creations. later i will drop some wisdom on general cooking techniques that works for everything. it'll make sure you dont make bland or burnt food.

right now i gotta goto the supermarket. i'll let you know what i come back with.

1 comment:

LeGreg said...

Well, I'm not a super cooking chef either, so my strategy if you want to call it one, is that I buy stuff I generally like (eggplants, salads, couscous, etc.).
Then I try to find recipe on the Internet that almost match what I have in hand. If I don't have an ingredient then I switch with another or improvise something.

So yeah pretty similar to yours ;).

Planning food one week in advance is hard, but having food in the pantry/fridge that you can prepare in the next week or two and sticking to it, is the way to go for me.