Buy your meat from a reliable source – a good supermarket or butcher will provide you with a selection to choose from for all your recipes.
Look for meat cuts that have a bright, moist flesh that is not too bright in colour. Any meat with signs of discolouration should be avoided.
If you decide to purchase meat at your local supermarket or independent food retailer, always check the `use-by’ dates. This means that meat can be used up to the end of the `use-by’ date, but not after, even if it looks and smells fine.
Today there are a variety of eggs to choose from, depending on your preference and budget. Eggs are divided into sizes according to their weight. Extra large (more than 73g), Large (63-73g), medium (53-63g) and small.
To check the freshness of eggs after purchasing always refer to the `best before’ date.
If possible buy vegetables when they are in season, this way they are in abundance, so are cheaper to buy. Always look for crisp, fresh looking vegetables that have brightly coloured leaves. Avoid any that have brown patches, wilted leaves or bruised flesh.
Theses should have a firm, heavy flesh with wrinkle-free skin. Avoid carrots and potatoes that have soft areas and any potatoes that start to show signs of sprouting.
Choose firm, fresh looking mushrooms with an `earthy’ smell. The stalk end should be moist; if dry they may be old. Always put fresh loose mushrooms in a brown paper bag not a plastic one; plastic packaging will generate heat, make the mushrooms sweat, producing excess moisture – something you don’t need as this alters the mushroom quality.
Choose firm onions with no blemishes. Avoid any that are soft, look damp or smell musty. Leeks and spring onions should have dark green leaves and fresh looking roots.
Look for firm, smooth shiny skins and an even colour. Avoid tomatoes or peppers that are soft, pulpy or wrinkled.
Choose salad leaves or packs that are fresh with no signs of slime, wilting or brown patches on individual leaves.
General Tips on Food Buying
When shopping for fresh vegetables don’t forget about frozen ones. They are great as a stand by and a substitute for fresh and taste just a good. Frozen vegetables are useful when fresh is not available, or are out of season.
Canned vegetables (especially tomatoes) are a good store cupboard staple too.
Pasta and Rice
Today the choice of pasta and rice available to purchase is extensive.
Generally used for everyday cooking and a great store cupboard stand-by. It has a relatively long shelf life (but always refer to the `use-by’ dates on the packet), convenient and lasts longer than fresh.
Fresh pasta is great when time is limited (as it only takes minutes to cook). The texture is much softer than dried pasta. The down side is that it is more expensive than the standard dried.
How much to serve
As a rough guide allow 100g dried or fresh pasta per person.
Rice –what type
There is a wide variety of rice available to choose. If stored correctly it has a long shelf life and is ideal for main course or side dishes.
The most versatile variety of rice to have in your store cupboard is long-grain rice. This rice will go with almost any of your dishes that call for rice. Other varieties include:
How much to serve
Some people who love rice will consume huge quantities, so judging how much to serve per person can be tricky, but generally allow between 60g-100g dry weight.