Empty Nest Meals, Shopping

Stocking for Two

After my last post, I grew somewhat smug about my ability to create real meals in spite of our hectic schedule.  When we got news that we were going to have guests, I assumed that it would be easy. Unfortunately, it was a work-all-day day. I was scheduled to work from 7-8, 10-1, and 3-9. With those brief breaks, it should have been simple to whip up a meal and leave it in the crockpot. I didn’t need anything fancy, so after consultation with my daughter-in-law, I decided that sloppy joes and store-bought potato salad (perhaps with a lettuce-y salad, too), would be ideal.  Between clients #1 and #2, I ran to the store and bought potato salad and ground beef, as well as some chicken breasts and pork chops. I dumped the entire package of ground beef into a pan, cut up some onions and cooked it all up. Drained it. Dumped it in the crockpot. Chili was starting to sound good, though, especially after I realized that I’d forgotten to buy buns. Yep, chili was a much better choice all around. I could make some 5-minute artisan bread to go with it. Normally, I would cook up dry beans, but I didn’t have time for that. I dug through the pantry and found several cans of black beans. No red beans or kidney beans. Well, it looked like I would have to cook some up. If I boiled them hard for a little while, they would finish cooking in the crockpot. But there were no kidney beans and only a handful of red beans. Okay. We like black beans.  I hadn’t yet opened the cans of beans when I realized that I had no tomato sauce. None. I had several cans of diced tomatoes, which would be good to add to tomato sauce for chili, but they really can’t replace ALL of the sauce.  Back to Plan A. I could pick up buns on the way home from client #2. I rummaged through the pantry and refrigerator and found one partial bottle of BBQ sauce. Not enough for sloppy joes.  I could have made more, if only I had some tomato sauce, of course.

It looks like my cupboards are bare of all those “ordinary” things I always took for granted.  The kind of things I picked up and put in the grocery cart from habit. Things I bought in the largest package available. Lately, I’ve just been shopping for things on my immediate horizon.  That sounds sensible, and it goes along with the good habit of using a monthly meal plan, but really… there are some things that I “should” keep on hand.  Many years ago, I used a master grocery list.  That helped me ensure that I had those basics in the cupboard.  Now, even though I rarely use it, I run out of ketchup! On the other hand, I have at least 8 cans of diced tomatoes and even more of refried beans. I keep buying those things because I can’t remember how much I have at home.

On a more important note, I’m nearly out of coffee. You would think that I could remember that. It’s a vital part of my day, but apparently not while I am shopping.

It’s a good time to reinstate that grocery list, ideally in conjunction with the menu planning.  Cooking for two is very different from cooking for a family, but it still requires organized lists! Starting one now: coffee, buns, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup…


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