I have noticed that the tasks I do before and after grocery shopping make a huge difference in my shopping experience, the efficiency of my trip, and how long my groceries last once I get them home. You can read the tips for Before You Go ¦ here.
If anyone else can relate to my refrigerator amnesia, then the steps I list here will show you what has helped me to overcome this unfortunate dilemma. Just as preparation and planning going into the shopping trip can help immensely, the things you do afterwards can keep your kitchen run smoothly for the rest of the week.
1. Plan for Multiple Store Trips
There are many times when I need to buy groceries from two different stores or from the regular grocery store and the farmer's market. If I can plan to do both shopping trips at once, then I don't have to get out twice. But, this also means I have to plan to do the shopping quickly and bring along something to keep the refrigerated items cold. Those large insulated bags work well, or just an ice chest with ice packs in it. Pay attention to where the refrigerated items end up in the bags so everything makes it into the proper cold storage. This has been a huge time saver for me.
2. Attend to the Produce
I ™ve mentioned my problem of refrigerator amnesia. This is when I stash lovely produce items in my fridge and completely forget about them. Uggh! If I take care of the produce properly right when I get home from the store, then it is ready to use and easy to access. This also makes good use of the OHIO principle ”Only Handle It Once. If I take care of the produce while it is still sitting on my kitchen countertops then I don't have to pull it back out on another day to store it properly. The green produce bags that keep veggies fresh longer have proven very helpful. I immediately use them to store as many items as possible. By the way, this doesn't just apply to produce. I try to properly store any bulk items like beans, rice, and nuts in the same way. If I place the items in canisters and jars, then they are more attractive and easier to use.
3. Post the Menu
Hopefully you planned a menu before you left for the store. If not, then take time to sketch out a menu for the week using all the fresh goodies you just brought home. Make sure you post it or right it on the calendar so you have easy access to it throughout the week.
There are a few other things that can be done right after a shopping trip like browning all the ground beef and freezing it for later use. Or sometimes I grill a large portion of chicken and freeze them in dinner size portions. When buying chicken in bulk, I divide it up into freezer bags and throw in a splash of marinade to make for an easy dinner in the future. These are just some of the things that have helped me keep my sanity on busy nights!