Do you remember your granny’s kitchen with a attached store room adjoining the main cooking area? A room stocked with enough pulses, rice, spices to last a 10+ member joint family for over a year.
Every summer, when we would visit my grandparents’ on vacation, grandmother would have over 500 coconuts plucked from the trees, followed by a rigorous routine of dehusking, breaking the coconuts, separating the water and distributing it to everyone. There have been days when we’ve skipped lunch, thanks to a bucket full of coconut water followed by trips to you know where :) Later, the coconuts would be left to dry in the hot summer sun for a week. Once it turned into kopra, she would get them processed in the neighborhood machine for extracting coconut oil. The oil would then be filtered and stored in tins – enough to last the family until next summer.
Various kinds of Mango pickles in huge earthen jars, rice obtained from the village fields stored in gunny bags, sun-dried pulses, and turmeric processed into powder after drying and grinding are among a few things which were done once annually. It was very economical to run a huge family this way though it meant a lot of hard work. But with so many ladies and helping kids around, it didn’t seem like a daunting task, something that I can’t even imagine doing/getting done today.
The biggest factor to accomplish this today as I see is space, with restrictions on time and effort aside. We are the processed food and tetra-pack generation. As much as I would love to shop for groceries just once a month, there isn’t enough space in my pigeon-hole metro apartment (alrighty 1,400 sq.ft is not small, but it pales in comparison to those huge bungalows of my grandparents) for a store room. Maybe a cupboard for stocking groceries might help. For now, I buy groceries as and when required which, in turn, means multiple trips to Reliance Fresh/More through the month. Due to a lack of space for keeping the 10-Kg containers that I have for storing rice or atta, I make do with smaller 5-Kg containers; its another thing that lining up 10-Kg containers will make the kitchen look like a kirana shop.
The plastic containers for spices is also relatively smaller – 100 gms. Many times, I don’t find smaller packs so I end up buying the 250 gms, which means there are scores of half-filled grocery packs lying around. Instead of just dumping them in the cabinets, I seal the plastic by showing it in the flame once, and then neatly fold it and store it in a air-tight container.
What are your tricks? How do you efficiently stock groceries? I’m looking for ideas, go ahead and let your secret out!