I grew up in the suburbs (still live there actually) where grocery shopping was done once a week, and the pantry was stocked with canned goods and the freezer was stocked with frozen meals. I didn’t realize there was any other way of getting the foods you prepared for meals.
In my house, the stocking up wasn’t very organized, but it existed. In my best friend’s house, it was incredibly organized. If a can of tomatoes was taken from the shelves in the garage, a can of tomatoes was immediately written on the grocery list on the refrigerator. The new can, when bought, would be placed on the back of the shelf – behind two or three cans of the same item that already existed. Her family never ran out of pantry items.
In my early 20s, I visited a friend who had a nanny job in New York City. The family she worked for was away for the weekend, and she had been given permission to have someone come stay with her. When it came time for dinner the first evening I was there, we walked to a corner market to get ingredients. Not a prepared meal, not a frozen entrée, but ingredients.
We bought fresh pasta, tomatoes, fresh basil (which sadly, I had never seen before), and some other ingredients. We took it all back to the penthouse on the Upper West Side that she was living in and cooked a meal. She explained that the family frequently bought food from stores in the neighborhood each day for that evening’s dinner. It was such a foreign concept to me.
Now, two decades later, I find myself combining the way my family stocked the pantry and the way my friend introduced me to shopping on an as-needed basis. I stock up on things like canned beans (for all that hummus I make), ingredients like soy sauce for marinades, baking staples, boxed organic chicken stock, and nut butters. But, in my freezer, you’ll find frozen grass-fed beef, homemade meals I’ve made double of and frozen half, and some frozen vegetables because they’re better in a pinch than having no vegetables at all.
As I’ve become more committed to cooking for my family from healthy, sustainable fresh ingredients, my shopping habits have changed. I’ll run to the store or the farmers market when it’s in season on an as-needed basis for fresh ingredients because I love to cook from fresh ingredients. I’ll stock up on certain healthy staples when they’re on sale.
I’m thinking about this because Food Navigator is reporting that most people don’t expect to do a one-stop shop any more. Younger people, it reports, “are not pantry stockers any more.” They decide what’s for dinner that night when they walk into the store, not a week before when they’re making their weekly shopping list. The piece discusses how grocery stores are going to have to change the items they carry if they want what they have in stock to keep up with what shoppers want.
I’m curious. How many of my readers stock a pantry, how many of you shop several times a week, and how many do a mash-up of the two like I do? I’m always curious about what goes on in people’s kitchens.