Saturday, July 28, 2012
Saturday Pantry Suggestions
I've had so many e-mails about how to cook cheap and healthy. So today I'll give a quick response and promise more later.
I must admit this is another spur of the moment post. Life became much busier than anticipated the last couple of days.
So... pour a cup of morning coffee and think of me as being across the breakfast table this morning. I'm pondering how one develops a very frugal way of stocking up and how to describe it to others.
I think the easiest way to describe the progression from expensive to frugal is how one can purchase oats...
Cheerios full price
Cheerios on sale
Store brand little round oat cereal
Quaker Oats Old Fashioned oatmeal
Ditto on sale
Old Fashioned style oatmeal in bulk
The first cereal on the list is the most expensive per serving while oatmeal purchased in bulk is the cheapest and easiest to store in the pantry.
Now, there is nothing wrong at all about purchasing Cheerios. When I do purchase a box of cereal, that is what I buy (but only on sale).
However, oats are a staple in my pantry because they are still inexpensive and they are extremely healthy. In the cold weather months, I usually make cooked oatmeal almost every morning.
With the extreme heat of this summer, I have been making baked oatmeal once a week, cutting it into squares, wrapping each square in Saran Wrap, and then I store them in a large ZipLock style bag in the freezer. That original recipe is... here. I triple the amount of cinnamon and usually make it with dried cranberries instead of apples.
(I do have a couple boxes of steel cut Irish oats, too.)
Let's do something similar with with fruit and veggies, consider the price between...
Strawberries purchased in December vs oranges purchased in December.
Asparagus purchased in April vs. Asparagus purchased in January.
Lettuce purchased in a bag with salad dressing and dried fruit in little packages within vs. a head of lettuce purchased whole with homemade dressing sprinkled with a few dried cranberries purchased on sale.
Apples dipped in caramel and chocolate costing $8.00 each in the store vs. apples bought at the Farmer's Market in October dipped in homemade caramel and dipping chocolate.
Eighteen premade deviled egg halves for $18.00 or nine eggs boiled at home and combined with a little mayo and mustard and a splash of vinegar and pinch of celery salt.
Homemade lemon chicken orzo soup made from a whole chicken on sale vs. one bowl of soup at Panera (however delicious). Recipe... here.
An ooey gooey butter cake made by moi' this past week with a cake mix on sale, butter on sale and cream cheese on sale vs $29.00 on QVC. Think I'm kidding? I used the recipe from a Paula Deen cookbook but you can find it and the QVC price... here.
A cup of coffee made at home vs. a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks... oh wait... I'm not going down that road. ;)
What other foods are the basis of my frugal pantry?
Well, years ago when I had great insurance, I was seeing an endocrinologist and I asked her what were the best foods for a diabetic who had to eat CHEAP. Her answer floored me, I never expected it! Ready? Her first choice was...
I always thought diabetics were to stay away from rice. Not so... it turns out brown rice has so much fiber it is actually good for diabetics (not to mention the general population).
I use both regular brown rice and Uncle Ben's converted brown rice.
Did she recommend any other inexpensive foods?
Yes... but they were items I expected like all kinds of dried beans, lentils, and oatmeal. If I remember correctly, she was also the one who gave me the idea of buying frozen veggies on sale.
Also, onions and garlic are incredibly healthy and not expensive. My "go to" side dish that the guys always love is what I learned from my mother. I boil potatoes in the skin until they are almost soft, then dry them and slice them, and saute' with an entire sliced onion until crispy.
Mom didn't leave the skin on her potatoes like I do and she didn't boil her potatoes first but I find by doing so it takes less oil. Oh, speaking of oil... when I fry bacon, I always save the bacon grease. It is perfect for frying potatoes and onions. I use olive oil most of the time so bacon grease here and there won't hurt!
DO YOU SEE A PATTERN HERE?
A lot of healthy foods are very inexpensive! You can eat healthy on a small income.
The hardest part is changing old cooking patterns. When I was first married, every homemaker I knew based her dinner menu around meat. Veggies were rarely given much thought and salad was almost always iceberg lettuce with bottled dressing (although I still love iceberg lettuce, I mix it with other leafy greens when the budget allows).
I will write more next week... God willing and the creek don't rise (this summer we don't have to worry about THAT!).