Pantry Planning for Summer
Now is the time to start planning summer picnics, barbecues and parties. The summer is short, and you want to spend as much of it as is possible actually enjoying its unique offerings, not stuck in the planning phase, not shopping for basic supplies. While the snow is still flying and the rain is still pelting, while it is too wet to do anything outdoors is the best time to sit quietly with an enjoyable beverage, with pen (or iPad) in hand and decide dates, dishes and diversion, getting some of prep work out of the way.
Since you alone know your specialties, how many to include in your picnic plans, how many are in your BBQ retinue, etc., it would be impossible for me to tell you exactly what to put on your To Do or your Shopping Lists, but I can make a few suggestions and tell you how I get started thinking and planning in a summery direction.
So many of the things we use in summer meals and activities are available year round and many of the foods are not really “pull date” sensitive. (Pickles, condiments, dried herbs and spices, seasoning packets, salad dressings, pastas (for our beautiful pasta salads), marinated artichoke hearts, olives, bean salads, beans we can use to make our own combination of bean salads and baked beans… you see where I’m headed here.) Many of them are found on sale, available in case lots, etc. and can save you dollars if bought ahead. If you get these things stocked in your own little summer warehouse, (your pantry) and you get a list of menus that use those items, you need but to make a quick trip to the market for the “fresh” ingredient items you need as the warm sunny days invite you to “wile away the hours”.
Now, I admit that the truth is, this won’t entirely work for everyone. There are those of us who just don’t have the space to have a big pantry or we don’t have the necessary funds in our grocery budget to have a lot of extra items on hand. Some of us are lucky to have the funds to have adequate on hand, but I promise you, if you think in terms of what you’re going to do for picnics, barbecues and summer meals in the beautiful out-of-doors with people you love and enjoy, you will think of ways to plan these events in advance (saving time and money) and will have more of them in queue to make summer what it is supposed to be: more relaxed and enjoyed.
My Pantry Approach/Suggestions
- My habit over the years has been to keep a spiral binder I call my “EVENTS RECORDS”. It is a record that contains notes on my most successful fetes, be they barbecue, formal dinners, picnics, whatever. If I don’t get real kudos or compliments on the event, or some particular part of the event (food, entertainment, wine,) then I don’t bother to write any notes about it in my event records. If however, there is a positive fuss made over the event or over something about that event I want to remember, I make a note. My plans then for future festivities reflect the best parts of the ones we’ve already had, and tend to be more successful.
- I keep the menus and shopping lists in a separate spiral binder from my EVENTS RECORDS, then keep both spiral binders in a large three ring binder to keep things convenient. If it is a particularly good party, much of my work for another party has been done for me. I just don’t want to repeat it too soon or for the same group OR/AND (yes a great big OR/AND)… This is where I do keep a note if a particularly menu was bad experience. I don’t want to forget and repeat it, EVER.
Keeping a list of who came to what and if they have any particular food issues has helped me many times.
A similar approach might be helpful for you.
I know this sounds like a great deal of record-keeping; it might sound like too much to you. If it doesn’t have merit for you, then by all means, don’t do it. Some people get a great deal of joy out of being spontaneous; nothing wrong with that. For me it has been part of the fun of entertaining and a little ad hoc hobby. It’s given me something to remind me of the great fun we’ve had and it makes me focus on sunshine and warm experiences on cold, gloomy days in winter when I can use a touch of summer spirit.
Love you all!
©Barbara Ziegler/BAPantryGourmet 2013 All Rights Reserved