28 November

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice

Your grocery shopping list won’t just be one shopping list, it will be several for several different dates and it will depend on when you need the actual ingredients and how long they keep (so you might as well get the golden syrup for the gingerbread in your next weekly shop but you’ll be wanting to get the lettuce for the Christmas Day salads on Christmas Eve[1]), so:

  • If you shop weekly on Saturdays and you’re making speculas for Sinterklaas on Monday the 5th, set up a list for Saturday the 3rd and write the ingredients on it.[2]
  • If you do just-in-time shopping and you’re doing vegie kebabs for a barbecue on the 10th, set up a shopping list for the 10th and write the vegetables on it.[3]
  • Also set up lists for the stuff you need to buy on Christmas Eve (typically the fruit and veg and other perishables), the stuff you need to buy on the weekly shopping day before Christmas (butter and so forth) and the stuff you could buy now (flour, nuts).[4]


It’s funny how much of the shopping doesn’t scale down when your guest list reduces to four. I still have to go to the same number of shops to buy almost the same list of ingredients.[5] The only big difference is that I won’t have such a heavy load to trundle back to the car.[6]

[1] My cousin Russell specialised in a bean salad in his bachelor days (this was the other recipe in his cookbook) which he made from several varieties of canned legumes, frozen chopped onion, oil and vinegar, and he could whip it up at a minute’s notice even if he hadn’t been shopping for months (and sometimes he hadn’t, because his staple diet back then was baked beans and frozen pizza).

[2] My friend Fiona says that her utility companies keep pestering her to move from paper bills to electronic bills but she refuses because the envelopes are so handy for shopping lists.

[3] My brother Matthew once wrote a shopping list on an unopened envelope and then went back to the shops the next day to buy a memo pad because he lost the list somewhere between the supermarket and the car and had to waste time on phone calls the next day to ensure that he didn’t miss an electricity payment.

[4] And chocolate pretzels. Jeremy loves these and he writes then on every shopping list I make right through December.

[5] But if I can’t find a way to rationalise the cherry tarts, I’ll be ditching the mascarpone.

[6] And I’ll be able to fit everything into my existing green bags – my Christmas present to myself is usually a new supermarket bag because I can’t fit everything into the ones I have already.

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