Having a grocery list already made is like putting on workout clothes. I'm more likely to workout once I'm in the clothes and more likely to shop if I have a list.
Removing cooking barriers (like list-making) is one of the reasons I’ve challenged myself to create a Capsule Kitchen, in other words, a kitchen made of only my favorite pantry staples and a few fresh, versatile, ingredients at a time.
This week I simplified my life by making a list of the ingredients I use on a regular basis.
In doing so I realized something obvious, a grocery list is very personal. Everyone has different dietary needs and preferences - gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, etc. But there are also different lifestyle needs. For example, someone shopping for a large family will have different needs than someone shopping for only one or two people.
So it only makes sense to share a little about my life to give you context when looking over my grocery list.
Other than eating real foods without additives or preservatives most of the time, we don’t have any strict dietary requirements or allergies but we do have some preferences.
First, we focus on adding at least one vegetable to most meals. With at least one vegetable on the plate I know I’m doing something right even if there's a slice of pizza on the other side. Second, we eat meat, gluten and dairy but keep all of those things to a minimum as we’ve found (through lots of experimenting) that we feel our best eating mostly plant-based, non-gluten-containing, foods.
As for lifestyle, I’m shopping for myself, my husband, and our two kids (3 and 1). I work from home so the kids and I eat almost all our meals at home. My husband eats breakfast and lunch at work and we all eat dinner together. We eat on average one meal out per week (usually brunch on the weekend).
I typically shop every 3-4 days which for me is the most manageable. If you shop once/week, consider doubling the quantities and storing some proteins in the freezer.
Enough about me, let's talk about lists. My list has three sections:
- Fresh Items: Roughly 10 rotating ingredients based on what’s in season, what’s on sale, and what we want to eat.
- Snacks/Breakfast/Lunch: Several items that stay the same and are purchased every week or so. At first glance, this section seems long but with two young kids who eat and snack A LOT we easily go through these foods without any waste.
- Kitchen Staples: Items that stay fresh for months and are almost always in the pantry or fridge. Since these can be bought in bulk and last a long time they're only purchased as needed. You’ll notice some obvious things aren’t on here, like flour and sugar. I only added items I use at least once/month and I don't use flour or sugar very often. But by all means, customize!
On any given week, I’ll choose at most ten fresh items. I’ll stock up on whatever we’re missing for snacks, breakfast and lunch, and then I’ll add any kitchen staples that we need.
I was happy to see, when looking through my Instagram posts, that I can make almost all the meals based on this list. And although this was a good litmus test to make sure this experiment will work with my cooking style, I'm going to push myself a little further to test the concept.
Next week I'll share my ten weekly fresh items with you and (I'm aiming for) TEN ways to use them.
Stay tuned to see what's cooking...