Monday, 25 March 2013

30 Minute Cupboard Makeover

It has become apparent to me recently that I am going to have to be more organized as far as grocery shopping and cupboard-stocking go.  With a little one on the way, I have had to face the reality that my current habit of going to the store at least every second day is not something I’m going to be able to maintain.  It’s time to figure out an alternative. 
You might be asking yourself, “why in the world would anyone want to go to the grocery store every day?!”  Well, there have been a couple of reasons that I’ve been doing this.  First, I have a really hard time deciding what I want to eat.  I have a habit of blaming this on the fact that I’m a Libra.  If I decide on Monday what I want to eat on Wednesday, who knows whether or not I’ll be satisfied with that choice by the time Wednesday rolls around!   And second, I find that because of my fickle taste buds, if I forego having a planned meal, the produce I had purchased in well-intentioned preparation often goes bad.  I hate throwing away food – especially expensive produce!  I have found that shopping more often ensures that we always have fresh produce and waste less.  See – those are pretty good reasons!!

Well, the days when I am able to run to the store on a whim are numbered, so it’s time for a change!  I’ve already prepared my grocery shopping list (available here) according to the geography of my favourite grocery store.  That might seem a little “type A”, but I view grocery shopping as a time-based challenge.  The less time I spend shopping, the more time I have for more enjoyable endeavours. 
Now that I have a list ready to go, I will be able to (hopefully) reduce my number of trips to the store to 1 or 2 times a week.  (There’s a certain amount of anxiety even in typing that!)  This presents me with another challenge.  My kitchen is small.  I mean, really small.  I have one cupboard allotted to breakfast and lunch foods – this way I don’t have to make countless circles around the room when I’m preparing either. 
And, I have one cupboard which holds all other food items:

That’s not a lot of storage!  And get a load of the mess in there!!
So – it’s time to purge and restock!  In the spirit of the closet purge I did a couple of months back, I emptied everything out of the cupboard and divided the contents into “keep” and “toss” piles.

Then, after having taken stock of what I was keeping, I made a list of the items which I should have on hand as staples. From there, it was easy to generate a list of what I’d need to purchase to complete my stockpile.  Then, it was off to the grocery store.
I know, probably not the most economical choice of stores.  I have vowed to become a no-name-buying, coupon-clipping-mom in May, but for now, I just can’t give up my Longo’s!
After restocking and labeling, this is what we’re left with:
There was even room enough to add a coupe of cans of tuna and 2 spare bottles of salad dressing.
Now the challenge will be keeping it neat!  For those of you who are interested in whether or not I was able to stick to my goal of doing this in 30 minutes – I was (if you don’t count the trip to the grocery store).  Emptying and sorting the contents of the cupboard took about 8 minutes; making the list of what I needed took about 5 minutes; and restocking and labeling took about 15 minutes! (With the exception of the 3 minute snag I had when my label maker jammed.)
What I decided my cupboard should always contain:

·         1 bottle of salsa
·         1 bottle tomato sauce
·         1 bottle of hot sauce
·         1 jar of pickles
·         2 boxes of couscous
·         2 boxes of risotto
·         1 or 2 bags of rice
·         2 cans peaches
·         2 cans each of corn and mixed veg (for shepherd’s pie)
·         1 box each chicken and beef broth
·         Coffee (regular and decaf)                       
·         Espresso (regular and decaf)
·         2 boxes KD (for my twice a year craving)
·         1 box instant potatoes (for shepherd’s pie)
·         4 -6 cans soup
·         2 cans tomatoes
·         2 can beans (kidney and brown)
·         2 pkgs. Dry pasta
·         1 tub almonds
·         1 pkg. dry ranch dressing
·         2 pkgs. Fajita seasoning

So I’m now a little more prepared for having to pre-plan I think.  At the very least – the cupboard looks better, and if I don’t feel like going to the store (or don’t have time), there will always be something I can throw together to make a simple meal.  The next step will be to clean out the freezer and stock it with some basics!

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