If you do a weekly shop to cook, what staples do you buy every week?
I am trying to shop weekly, and cook more, even though I work late some evenings. The first week went well, now part of me feels like repeating the meals to simplify things, and part of me wants to try new things for variety. Maybe I should stick with some staples and mix it up a bit by seasonings?
I always have pasta and rice as well as pasta sauce and canned corn & artichoke hearts on hand; every week I buy a mess of cucumbers and tomatoes and make a big tub of Israeli salad to serve every night - maybe one night we'll have a diffierent veggie.
Carrots, onions and celery are musts for me, as are green onions and fresh parsley. Dill is good to have on hand but may not last the whole week. When I lived in a country with Costco (sound of angels) I bought huge packages of chicken and pork chopes and divided them into 2 person portions in the freezer. They thaw pretty quickly to optimum slicing frozenness (is that a word?) and from there the options are endless.
I make up a menu on Saturday after a trip to the farmers' market. From that menu I know what I'm going to need for the coming week. A check of the pantry and fridge shows me what I need to buy. Then I go buy it.
The key is to have a menu beforehand. It might be too much organization for some people but I have to get dinner started as soon as I get home so I don't have 30 minutes to wonder what I can/want to make for dinner with what I have on hand, only to find that I'm missing a key ingredient.
I do this most weeks and it generally works out well. Typically I have a rough idea of the meals I want to cook but not specific recipes and I just mix and match with what I have on hand. On the weekends when I have more time I may make a second trip to the store if I'm making specific recipes for more elaborate meals.
I have a hard time finding decent fresh meat, so most of my meats are frozen. This makes it really easy to shop once a week as you can focus on the veggies, dairy, and fruit and leave it at that. Things that I almost always pick up once a week are:
Salad items (enough for two to three nights): lettuce, mushrooms, bell peppers, green onions, tomatos, cucumbers, avocados
Other veggies that look good (enough for two nights) such as broccoli or asparagus
Fresh cilantro and parsley, a few jalepeno peppers
A couple each of lemons and limes, and any fresh fruit that looks good.
Since there are only two of us the dairy items usually last two weeks, but I always have on hand:
Milk, 0% Fage Yogurt, low-fat sour cream, buttermilk, butter (you can freeze the butter and buy in bulk), grated cheddar or mexican cheese, mozzerella, parmesean
Every two weeks or so I also buy: Onions, garlic, whole grain bread, corn tortillas, eggs
You can take your meat out of the freezer and thaw it in the fridge the night before or in the morning before you leave for work (depending on what it is and how long it will take to thaw). Then just mix and match with a vegetable, and salad, fruit, or any starches you have on hand like rice or cous cous. The variations with the above ingredients are huge. You can do everything from fajitas to stir fry to pasta and depending on the meat most of it can be prepped and cooked within an hour.
So...now you know what is in my fridge. Good luck with your shopping, and most of all have fun!
I make two trips....one at the beginning of the month (or for the next couple of weeks) for shelf stable stuff:
canned beans/tomatoes/tomato paste
olive oil/balsamic vinegar
for the week:
frozen berries (smoothies)
chicken,pork, and either beef or turkey, depending on what mood strikes
veggies for the week
and I always keep the pantry stocked with nuts, oatmeal, S&P, dry spices, and baking items
typically on each weeks list are the following, the meats, fish and shellfish, are weekly purchases based on what looks good, and what sounds good for meals on the weekend, or during the week. Typically a couple of stops, farmers market for produce, the local meat market for meat, p[oultry, and seafood, and the local grocery for any other items I need.
lemons or limes
beef(sirloin steak, beef roasts, ground beef)
chicken(whole birds, or wings)
pork(loins, butts, ribs)
shellfish(crabs, shrimp, scallops)
fish(mahi, orange roughy, swordfish)
veggies for sides(broccoli, cauliflower, corn when in season, peas)