Here’s something that can change your life or at least improve your attitude about cooking. I believe one of the most important things you can do for yourself, in the kitchen, is maintain an on-going grocery list. Let me tell you how this works.
I consider myself a fairly organized person. I never shop without a list. In the past, I used to make a grocery list right before going to the market. I’d look through the fridge and cupboards, jotting down the things I was out of. If you make a list that way, it’s not good enough.
When you make a list, at the last minute, there are always items you’ve run out of during the week, but won’t remember when making the list. It’s really frustrating. And you’ll go to the market with that last minute list, but in the back of your mind you’ll be thinking, “what was it that I needed?” And then when you come home from your shopping it will finally dawn on you and if it was important enough it will mean another trip to the store. Don’t you hate that? Doesn’t that take the fun out of cooking, assuming it was fun to begin with?
The solution to this problem lies in a 3×5 card and a pencil. Take a 3×5 card and tape it inside your most-used kitchen cabinet. If it’s taped inside the door, it doesn’t show.
Inside the cabinet you must also keep a pen. That is very important. The pen needs to be close to the card and it should never leave the cabinet. Don’t remove it even for an emergency. The kitchen cabinet must be its permanent home.
As you’re cooking during the week and use up the last drop of vanilla, you open the cabinet and write down vanilla. If you run out of toilet paper, go to the cabinet and put it on your list. If you’re browsing through recipes and need certain ingredients, add them to your cabinet list. If you do this consistently you will never come home from the grocery store, kicking yourself for having forgotten an item. The list is the memory.
This technique can be taken a step further by carrying a card with you to work. If during the course of the day you think of something you need, write it down and then consolidate the two lists before shopping. When you’re ready to go to the store, remove the list from the cabinet and immediately replace the old card with a new one and start the process all over.
You owe it to yourself to try this. It will save you time and money. And it’ll change your attitude about the kitchen. I promise.