The most important preparation for being able to pull meals out of the cupboard quickly is to have a well-stocked pantry in the first place. The trend toward bigger grocery stores means one-stop shopping is more convenient; however, picking up a few necessary items at a large store can take longer than it did when stores were smaller. That means you need to be strategic about your shopping if you want to keep your pantry primed for fast meal preparation.
Break grocery shopping trips into three types:
1. A big effort monthly shop
2. A medium effort weekly shop
3. A no-effort occasional shopping trip for fresh items.
I also like to keep a running list in a handy place so that when I head off to the store or to the shop online for groceries I don’t have to open every cupboard to do inventory. Although I often jot a few things on a scrap piece of paper, the most successful shopping trips are well-planned. At the test kitchen we have a printed form that we use to make shopping fast and efficient (that’s pantry manager Sabrina Falone’s desk pictured above). Even for personal shopping I still use headings such as produce, dairy, meat, frozen, grocery, etc. so that I can find my place easily on the list as I travel through the store.
Do you have a shopping strategy you’d like to share?