I was talking to @dualhammers about buying food… Perhaps somebody starting their own household or deciding they want to learn how to cook can use the info as well. Feel free to ask questions!
The starting point was the question: When you buy groceries, do you meal plan, or do you buy staples and improvise?
I said: both! We plan meals for the first few days, and we have staples that we know and love and keep for longer until everything runs out, then we reorder after 10–14 days. That is, we have a menu plan for six or seven dishes, and we have staples that you don’t need to eat this turn (e.g. pelati, spaghetti, frozen green peas, dried chickpeas, to name a few things that we eat towards the end of the cycle), also different veggies for both turn halves (bell pepper now, cabbage later, cucumber now, beet root later).
We have an A5 paper with a handwritten shopping list; when we shop online, one of us reads from the list, the other checks how much of it we still have and shouts numbers from the kitchen…
So, what sort of staples, and what do we make with it?
Something we always like to have is bread and cheese; jam and honey; butter. This is my French breakfast. The butter also serves as frying fat, so we have lots of butter. I usually aim for 6×200g when shopping.
We make our own bread, so there’s always spelt flour (3kg), and whole wheat flour (3kg) to buy. And salt, of course.
We also buy raisins, oat, spelt, almonds and make our own Müesli mix; it’s very simple but it’s important to us that there is no sugar added, and I don’t care for all the hype around chia, amaranth, or whatever superfood the like this year. This doesn’t happen very often because we have a big 3l glass jar we fill with our Müesli mix.
We always buy milk (6×1l), yoghurt (2×500ml), curd (2×500ml), also for Müesli.
I try to eat a few spoons of Müesli with some milk as a snack in the afternoon where I’m tempted to wish for cookies… Better to eat some Müesli instead!
Still thinking about breakfast: we buy oranges (for juice), coffee, tea… The milk also gets used for my coffee. The coffee is already ground (in small 200g bags) and we have those simple Bialetti cans to make good enough coffee for me. My wife stopped drinking coffee.
For improvised salad dinner: beluga lentils, or chick peas (both dried in bags of 500g – we cook one bag for a week and keep them in the fridge), plus carrots, beet root (to eat raw, like carrots – my wife doesn’t like them cooked), or cucumber, and bell peppers. As I said at the top, the root stuff keeps longer so we eat cucumber and bell petters as soon as possible, then we switch to carrots and beet roots.
For salad sauce we use some cold pressed olive oil (don’t use it for frying things, it would be a waste, and possibly dangerous to your health; use hot pressed and filtered olive oil for frying – or butter), balsamico, sea salt (I like the coarseness), and pepper (I grind my own, two or three seeds per person, with a small mortar)… If I don’t have balsamico, I’ll use a white wine vinegar, which I then find bland so I add mustard.
For quick food during home office, I like pasta: spaghetti, pelati, onions, garlic; optionally zucchini or egg plants. For the occasional soup: broccoli, cauliflower, or butternut, and sour cream; all of which can be used for curry, too. More vegetables for curry options: green peas, potatoes, green beans (all for curry). The green peas and green beans we buy frozen, so they’re emergency food. The potatoes we need to eat quickly because the start sprouting.
A selection of spices for curry: cumin, fennel seeds, turmeric, cilantro seeds, garam masala.
We buy basmati rice and when we prepare it, I add 2 cardamom, 2 cloves, and half a cinnamon sticks to the water and salt, for taste. The same spices can be used for chai (with black tea and milk).
Curry with onions and lentils is dahl, but with any other vegetable it’s simply vegetable curry.
I used to buy a lot of feta and tomatoes, but I don’t like the tomatoes that we get all year round. The only tomatoes I like are from the farmer’s market during summer. I love adding them to the salads, or eating just tomatoes with salt, pepper, balsamico, and olive oil. If you have the good tomatoes that melt on your tongue… Aaaah! I miss summer.