I don’t want to grow up is one of my favorite Ramones songs. Growing up involves a lot of things, responsibility is a buzz kill. What do I wanna be when I grow up? This might be the world’s oldest question and it is one that I still can’t answer.
One aspect of growing up, includes shopping and cooking for ourselves. These are two tasks that many people do not enjoy. I will change that! I went to culinary school and taught cooking classes. I’ve been a procurement manager and professional shopper for over 2 years. I love shopping, cooking and teaching people how to do it. Sure I could do it all for you but what will you do when the Zombie Apocalypse happens? Ultimately, you gotta know how to get food and what to do with it. After all, we humans can’t live without it.
Lucky for you, I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way and can help alleviate some of the pain and suffering. Before you can do anything, you have to shop for food. What type of shopper/cook are you?
A planner is usually someone who has a limited palette, not a lot of time and eats the same things over and over on a weekly basis.
A winger is some with a more adventurous palette, more time and doesn’t know what they will eat from meal to meal, much less on a weekly basis.
No one is limited to these categories exclusively, but you probably have a good idea of where you sit. A planner might try a new recipe but is more likely to use ingredients they like, have and are comfortable with. A winger might like to have stir fry every weekend but with all new ingredients and marinades. Ask yourself these 3 questions to help you figure it out.
1)Do I like to eat the same types of meals over and over? (it’s boring but I get it)
2)Am I willing to eat out of my comfort zone? (more expensive and/or time-consuming, but worth it)
3)What kind of pantry/cabinet and fridge/freezer storage do I have? (simply practical)
The first question will help you determine your eating patterns, how often you will need to shop and whether or not you should buy in bulk. The second question determines where you are willing to shop, if you want to shop more than once or twice per week and the amount of items you will buy during a shop. The third question is about space. Do you have room to store bulk items, can you make more at a time and store for later and do you have cabinet space for containers to store food.
Planners–make meal plans for the week. You know what you want to eat. Double check recipes, pantry, fridge and freezer so you know what you need. Make your list. You probably already know and do this. Here’s what will help you.
- Visit a smaller version of the same grocery store you prefer. You will learn where everything is. The benefit is a better list and easier navigation through the store.
- Shop at the same time each week and get to know the employees. They will help secure your hard to find items faster and your special requests will have more meaning.
- Download the store app on your phone. This will let you know if the store has the item you want and where it’s located by doing a quick search.
Wingers—will probably shop at a few stores and maybe a farmer’s market to procure the items to cook/eat. They might have a list of a few items that they don’t want to forget but prefers to walk around and see what inspires them.
- Google specialty stores Asian markets, Mexican markets, health food stores. You have a much better selection of the international food items to choose from and they are almost always less expensive. This will also introduce you to produce and other products that you didn’t even know existed.
- Make friends with the employees. They can tell you how to cook items with which you are unfamiliar, give you suggestions such as which brand of sticky rice to buy for a particular result, and give you an insight on upcoming sales.
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)! This will provide you with local seasonal produce on a weekly or bimonthly basis. It also helps support your local community and the farmers in your area.
For planners and wingers:
- Look at the top and bottom shelves. Stores usually stock their own brand items in the middle of the shelf, at eye level. Name brands and specialty brands are usually below and above the store’s brand. Some stores even offer a second version of their brand that is the least expensive. Those are usually on the lowest shelves.
- If you can, buy your produce seasonally. It will be fresher, local and cheaper. It’s easy to buy prepackaged produce, but you will pay the price. Really you do! It’s 3 – 4 times the amount of the item if you bought it whole and cut it up yourself. Storage, time and convenience cost more, period.
- Remember this simple rule…Shopping the perimeter of the store gives you the freshest, least processed food. The inner aisles are where the processed food, household items and ultimately distractions are located. The end caps are new products being pushed, off-season items, and most importantly, things that are rarely on your list.
I understand that there are those of you who just do not enjoy shopping, but when you grow up, it’s just something you have to do. I get it! We live in the times of Instacart, Favor, and Amazon Prime. Why would I ever shop for myself? I would just ask that you figure out what type of eater you are, follow some of my tips and tricks and give it another go around. Shopping doesn’t have to be painful if you are prepared and know how to get it done effectively, efficiently and within your means.
Go ahead, grow up!