Grocery shopping has changed over the last year. Before the pandemic limited our trips, the time-consuming part of shopping was done at the store. Many of us no longer travel to work every day which has eliminated quick stops on the way home for just a few items. Now we head to the grocery store with a lengthy list in hand. Once home, the exhausting task of unloading groceries makes this one of the most lengthy of weekly chores.
What if you could combine grocery shopping with food prep using your time more efficiently and ensuring healthy meals and snacks throughout the week? Here are a few simple tips that will maximize your valiant efforts to keep your family safe and healthy.
Go to the grocery store with a list. Be sure to include an easy dinner idea for tonight like shredded steak to top off a salad or chicken in the crockpot.
Whether you’re bagging your own groceries or just putting your items on the belt for the cashier, try to keep items together in 3 categories: Fridge, Pantry, Produce.
Back at home, unload your groceries by placing cold items near the fridge, pantry items near the pantry, and produce near the sink.
Start at the fridge. Wipe down the shelves of your nearly empty fridge and set produce drawers on the counter. Put away all your cold items. Remove excess packaging from any items you’ve bought in bulk such as yogurt, cheese sticks, and seltzer. Next, move to your pantry items. Unpack any bulk items. Pull all open items to the front of your pantry and put your newer items behind.
Food Prep and Produce
Start by washing your hands. Place a towel on the counter along with a cutting board, knife, 3 food storage containers, 3 small bowls, and a small fruit bowl for your counter. Wipe your produce drawers out with a cloth and soapy water and leave them to dry. Unpack bigger produce first like apples, melons, and peppers, remove stickers, and place in the sink.
Rubbing your produce under cool running water and drying with a cloth or paper towel is recommended by the FDA to remove bacteria. However, if it makes you feel better to use a soap or vinegar wash, be sure to rinse with cool water to remove residue.
With cool running water, rub each item with your hands. For harder produce scrub with a brush. Scrubbing your carrots and potatoes now will eliminate peeling later. Set on the towel or in your dish drain to dry as you move onto your lettuce and berries.
Using a colander, wash lettuce and small fruit in cool running water. Remove the most outer leaves on your lettuce and throw out or compost. For pre-washed greens in a container, store in the refrigerator. Once open, place a clean cloth or paper towel in the container to collect excess moisture allowing greens to stay fresher longer.
Begin to dry your produce with a clean towel and put away whole fruits in your produce drawers.
Chop and fill containers:
1- Salad fixings
2- Veggies for stir fry and roasting
3- Carrots- no need to peel. Fill the container with water to keep carrots crisp all week
4- Small bowls with cloth on the bottom to collect moisture for berries, grapes, and cherry tomatoes
5- Fill a fruit bowl with just a few pieces of fruit to keep on your counter
Fill your fridge with your prepared produce, keeping it towards the front and easy to get to. Plan to eat your fresh produce first when it is at its best. Save your frozen or canned fruits and vegetables for meals later in the week. Enjoy knowing your family will have delicious produce to eat and cook with all week. Salads will be quick to make and veggies will be easy to add to all your dishes. Have those tasty grapes as the first thing you see when you open the refrigerator. Grab a few and go put your feet up. Well done!