When I was a child, my grandmother used to say, “You speak the language, so ask for directions if you get lost!” I apply that lesson today when it comes to saving time in the grocery store. If I can’t find something, I ask rather than wander aimlessly through the store. Time is money, as they say, and the whole concept behind the Personal Chef Approach™ is not to waste either of those precious commodities.

With my Grandma Ellie

With my Grandma Ellie

It’s astonishing how many people are afraid to ask, when in reality the people behind the counter are usually thrilled to help! Patrons tend to treat them as if they’re invisible, so trust me, a friendly smile and acknowledgement, or asking for their expertise goes a LONG way. You might even end up with superior product. My local butcher shouts at me when I reach for something from the case these days, “oh no, let me cut you some fresh.”

Meat counter

Meat counter

Befriending the butcher and/or fishmonger can also lighten your load in the kitchen. If you ask nicely, they will (much more skillfully) break down that whole chicken, pound out those breasts evenly, trim the silver skin from a filet of beef, debone a leg of lamb, peel and devein shrimp, or skin and filet the fish for you amongst other time-consuming tasks. They’re also your go to source to ask which cuts of meat, or types of fish could be substituted for another when what you’re looking for is not in stock; or how long and what temperature you should cook that roast. They’ll even marinate meat in advance for you if you wish, and they can save you money repackaging the number of thighs or chops you desire.

Peel and devein shrimp

Peel and devein shrimp

The same goes for the green grocer. They love to show you how to pick a ripe pineapple, or why you want artichoke with tight leaves. There are so many exotic fruits and vegetables showing up on grocery store chain shelves these days – I’m always asking my green grocer the reason for purple cauliflower versus white, he’ll often lets me sample a new crossbred plum, or gives me advice on how to prepare and cook a squash I’ve never tried before.

Purple versus white cauliflower

Purple versus white cauliflower

A good store manager knows what’s on sale that week and exactly which aisles to find specific products (again, saving you time). Sometimes the store will stop carrying a product I’ve come to like, and letting the manager know I miss it will usually encourage them to either start reordering it again, or do a special order of that product just for me (at no extra cost).

Grocery shopping in a flash

Grocery shopping in a flash

Once you get to know the professionals in your local grocery store, the time it takes to shop is greatly reduced, you’ll save money. Plus, the automatic grocery lists generated from the PCA custom menu planning tool or the weekly menu plans will mean you need to shop much less often. I shop once a week, and I’m done in less than half an hour – how much time do you spend grocery shopping?

Purple Caulifower Mash

Purple Cauliflower Mash

This easy kid-friendly side dish also happens to be great for low carb diets in place of mashed potatoes. Of course you can make it with any other color of cauliflower you happen to have, and let your imagination run wild with additional ingredients and variations.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Purple Cauliflower Mash

  • 1 large purple cauliflower washed and cut into florets
  • 4 large cloves garlic peeled and left whole
  • 4 tablespoons lite cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Purple Cauliflower Mash

  1. Fill a large saucepan 1/4 of the way full with water, cover, and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Place the cauliflower florets and garlic into the steamer section, then place between pan and cover. Steam for 15-20 minutes, or until cauliflower and garlic are very soft when pierced with a knife.
  2. Remove vegetables, being careful not to get burned by the steam, to a food processor, blender, or put back into the drained pan if using a hand blender.
  3. Add the cream cheese, and blend until smooth and the consistency of mashed potatoes. Season to taste, and stir well before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this with any dish you might serve mashed potatoes with. I love this with turkey, chicken, or pork. I’ll usually serve with some kid of greens or a green vegetable like broccoli or asparagus as well.

Heat To Eat

Vent lid of container and heat in microwave 2-3 minutes, stirring midway to distribute heat evenly; or heat in a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until heated through, about 7-8 minutes.

Variations

Add 1/3 cup Parmesan and a pinch of oregano, or if using a white or orange cauliflower, I like the spicier versions of adding 1/3 cup cheddar and tablespoon of canned jalapenos, or a couple chipotle peppers for a smokier flavor. I often add celery root in with the cauliflower for another dimension of flavor. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

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  • August 30, 2013
    3:36 am

    I must admit I am one of those people who tend to try and find things on my own in the grocery store before asking for help. Most of the time I am fine however once in a while I will ask if it’s taken me forever to find something….especially if it’s something on sale.
    My daughter’s taste buds have slightly changed. She once loved mashed potatoes but now when I serve up my 7 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder she asks for your cauliflower mash. We alternate with purple or white depending on what is available at the grocery store. It certainly keeps Mia happy!
    .

    Reply
  • August 30, 2013
    4:27 pm

    Great advice. I’m not much of one to ask either but if you don’t ask, you don’t get! It’s nice to get known a bit places too… finding a good place to shop and they’ll let you in on a whole world of information. The butchers we go to always has suggestions and if they are out of a cut I need, they will suggest something closer or tell me to call ahead with the whole meat order on a certain day they get delivery and they’ll set stuff aside. The farmers market is great that way too… as busy as they are, they remember – especially if you ask questions and joke with them a bit.

    This cauli mash is a winner here too. Anything that can make kids and picky big kids eat a veg they say they hate is perfect in my book

    Reply
  • August 31, 2013
    4:53 pm

    I never knew that the fishmonger or butcher would do ANY of those things – great to know!!

    Reply

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