You might have noticed we talk a lot about cooking meals based on what’s on sale that week. That’s a very smart tactic in The Bachelor’s Kitchen. Not only is this money-saving, but it gives you a chance to stock up on things to fill you pantry and your freezer. Often, when it comes to fruit and vegetables, sale items are at their peak of freshness, especially if it comes from local sources.
We don’t know of any grocery store, no matter the size, independent or chain, that doesn’t publish in some way a flier of their sale items that week. Sometimes it’s in the mail along with coupons and other sales fliers. Sometimes these lists are only online or in the stores. But no matter how this information is available, it’s worth the effort to find them and use them to make your grocery list. This will save time and money when you get to the store.
Everyone can come up with their own strategy. Here’s mine, developed over several years of experience. Remember, I’m a bachelor. If you have a family to feed, you’ll probably have to make some adjustments to this plan.
A great strategy for using your time and your budget most effectively is to do the bulk of your cooking just one day a week. You can make meals and meal components all at once and be able to eat through most of the week. What do I mean by components? I like to make a pot of rice, enough to last for several meals. Or I might make a pot of beans which makes a good, nutritious side dish for several meals. I don’t just make a single loaf of bread, but several to last not just through the week, but for a week or two to come. Using these methods, you can maximize your fun without cutting in to your time during the work week.
A part of this strategy is to figure out, at least in a rough way, what you’re going to eat that week. For me, this is a two step process, both before and after I go to the store.
I keep a list in the kitchen of staples that I need as they get used up or low. There’s also a list at my desk of regular items to buy like milk, bread, cheese and the like. Then I look at the sales fliers from the stores I go to most often. One store has overall lower prices but limited selection. The other has wider selection, but higher prices. So, I usually alternate between them. I look for good deals on all the things I usually buy, and occasionally at things I might want to try. Using all these lists, I create my shopping list, organized by store section. Sounds like too much work? Guess what? There are websites that can help you with that. Most even will add all the ingredients from selected recipes to the list. The day before I go shopping, the list is printed out and I’m armed and ready to shop.
Then I look at my recipes for things to make using both the ingredients I have on hand and what I plan to buy. I look at both the ingredient list and the directions to make sure I have everything I need to make it.
Don’t look at your shopping list as inflexible. Sometimes you might find the goods in the store don’t look so good, so you may decide on something else that does look good. For example, one time the store advertised a pork tenderloin on sale. But when I got the store, I found it was this processed thing sitting in a liquid of chemicals and preservatives. Pass. No pork for me that week.
That brings me to the second phase, after I return from the store. After I put all the groceries away, I take my receipt and look at what I actually bought, making note of ingredients that will need to get used up during the next few days, like fresh produce and meat. I want to make sure I don’t waste my money or time by letting things go bad in the refrigerator. I want to make sure things that won’t get used right away are added to the freezer and that I have a plan to use up food that won’t keep very long.
Now, I’m ready to cook with a meal plan for the week already worked out. It doesn’t mean I will always stick to that plan. But at least I have some ideas about what I’m going to make and when.
With a little planning, you can make the most of your time in The Bachelor’s Kitchen.