To Market, to Market to Buy a Fresh Pig… Don’t Let Shopping Make Cooking Too Big! (Part II of II)

Last week we provided you with a list of what to buy and how to buy it.  This week we will tell you how to approach your shopping so you can more easily integrate cooking into your daily life.  If you are going to spend the time preparing meals for yourself and your family, it ought to be easy and fun. Come and cook with us!

  • Learn (or perfect) three basic meals that you can amend as needed, and call on at any time: mine are risotto, vegetable soup, and pasta with garlic and oil.
  • Practice cooking intuitively, which is something everyone can learn.  Decide what you are going to cook when you look at what is in the refrigerator.  It’s scary at first, and takes time to get accustomed to, but when you can confidently do it you will free yourself from pre-planning forever!
  • When you shop for your meat and fresh produce (about twice a week), buy a wide variety of products that you can work with (rather than the exact ingredients for three or four meals).
  • Leave the recipes behind! The more you lean on what you know and like, the less likely it is that you’ll need to run to the store for a missing item: it’s your dish, you make the rules.
  • Dedicate one day to tacos, meatballs or pizza, so you don’t have to think about it.  Consider it your free day, and achieve variety by shifting toppings or your meat base.
  • Remember that we don’t need as much meat as we think we do.  Buy one meat and one fish on every trip, and cook them fresh.  Then serve a purely vegetarian meal for the third day.
  • Don’t worry about variety; for health, eat a rainbow.  If your cart is colorful, your vitamin intake is abundant.
  • Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery.  That will take care of your fresh produce!
  • Go easy on yourself.  The best meals are the simplest.  Who doesn’t love pasta with garlic, oil and some sautéed greens (or reds, oranges or yellows), topped with cheese (ricotta, cheddar, parmesan, or whatever you have).
  • Let the market guide you.  Choose produce and meat that is in season, abundant or even on sale.  This takes the thinking out of shopping, inspires creativity, and can save you some money as well.

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