Dinner Party Planning in Action: Shopping

Dinner Party Planning in Action: Shopping

It saves a lot of stress to do your shopping the day before a party. Think of it like packing for a trip – don’t you always remember something that you forgot to put in your bag after you leave? Gathering ingredients for a dinner is the same way. That extra day not only gives you calm space to come up with those things you didn’t pick up, but it also gives you time to think of extra creative touches.

While I was looking at recipes and putting together my menu for the dinner this week, I absent-minded jotted a list of items that I needed. I’m not usually this proactive, but I really recommend this. As you finalize your menu, look through the ingredients for each recipe and make two lists: items to buy, and items that you may have in your kitchen but need to look for. As long as you check your second list before heading to the store, you should never again fall into the last minute panic of needed a special ingredient that you don’t have (or even just a staple that you forgot to restock).

My South Asian feast for this week left me with two lists, and perusing my cabinets showed that I still needed the starred items.

Things to check the kitchen for:

  • green beans*
  • peas*
  • tomatoes
  • ginger*
  • shallots*
  • onions
  • peanuts
  • chilies

Things to buy:

  • yogurt
  • bananas
  • fish
  • frozen strawberries for gelato

List in hand, I set out for the Whole Foods down the street and did all my shopping in 5 minutes and spent a total of $13.17. Yes, you heard that right. I bought the ingredients for a 9 person dinner at Whole Foods for $13.17. I’m going to pick up the fish tomorrow at a different market, but that shouldn’t be more that seven dollars.

All told, this dinner will come in around twenty dollars, and this is why planning is so important. By judiciously choosing your menu, it is a surprisingly easy feat to pull off a four course meal for 8+ in the very low single digits.

Follow the rest of the party planning action with the next post in the series!