Saturday, September 07, 2013
Living the Pantry Lifestyle
Another "off the top of my head" post I'm afraid. Between difficulty in getting computer time and the continuation (albeit better) of vertigo, it is difficult to ponder for long.
However, one thing that happened this past week reminded me why deepening the pantry can be good for the pocketbook. I finally felt comfortable about driving again... the dizziness comes mostly when getting up suddenly and when I am lying down... so I drove to the grocery store for the first time in about seven weeks.
All it takes is a prolonged absence to notice again how much prices are rising. I was able to find some salad ingredients on clearance but otherwise was not very happy too see the prices on the most basic of foods.
I've long ago given up some luxuries but freshly ground pepper is not one of them. We actually ran out of pepper in our quest to find a more reasonable price but I ended up paying $12.99 (let's just call it $13.00 minus one penny, for that is what it is) for peppercorns.
Now, I have an appreciation for spices and how long they travel and how difficult so many are to pick and all (saffron for example) but I have never paid that much for pepper. But it was not just the spice, everything has been rising except our income.
But that makes it even more important for those trying to stay on a budget to stock up when essentials are on sale. I was not stocking up but by choosing store brands and sale items for my immediate needs, I saved almost $25.00... or so the receipt said.
Even then I had to pass up a number of 10 for $10 sales that I once would have taken advantage of. Such a sale put some items at half off. There are items that I wait for such a big sale, like Philadelphia cream cheese at the holidays. It can be less than half the original price.
This time of year was when we used to stock up on canned vegetables because a favorite store would have them 5 for $1.00. I'm not sure how low the prices are now. As the new crops of green beans and corn were coming in from the fields, those cans left in the warehouses were moved out with such great prices.
I'd buy $20.00 worth of mostly green beans but also corn (for vegetable soup) and canned potatoes. I'm not fond of the texture of canned potatoes but they work great in a pinch when you need them. So for a rather small amount of money, I'd have some veggies on the shelves for the coming winter, even if they were in a can.
I look at stocking up on a sale this way... if the product is half off then it is like doubling my income when I buy it. Even a 20% off sale is like increasing my income by... 20%. Of course, as long as your purchases are actually used. :)
So when you see your favorite brand of unbleached flour now going for over $5.00 a bag and even the store brand of brown sugar at $2.50 (we won't even begin to talk about good stuff like real maple syrup)... stocking up on sale will be more important.
By the way, I don't blame the farmers. They don't make enough so often as it is. Something gardening makes me appreciate more every year.
*** I was asked how to best store pasta to make it last the longest. Mostly it is important to keep it dry. I keep most pasta in a large Rubbermaid container (well sealed) on a shelf in my garage where it gets hot in the summer. At least here in the Midwest, it doesn't seem to hurt it. It's not like I live in Arizona... but at least it would be dryer there.
I have an old bread drawer in my kitchen that I don't use for bread and it tends to stick when opening and shutting. So I now use it to keep the boxes of pasta that are the oldest and need to be used quickest. Newer purchases go in the Rubbermaid container.
*** I have had a wheat grinder since the 1990s and it has lasted a long time... but then again I do baby it, being careful not to overload it with wheat all at one time. Replacing it would not be in the current budget! I did not realize how I have become used to freshly ground grain until I was given a bag of whole wheat flour and it tasted so different.
Yes, it does grind corn into cornmeal, too. (Not all of them do so you must check before making a purchase.) Although these days I don't use much cornmeal so I buy one bag of a health food brand non-GMO cornmeal and keep it in the freezer.
But one nice thing about the wheat grinders (that grind corn) is you can purchase popcorn in bulk and use it for your cornmeal.. and to pop for a snack. I did that when there were four of us at home and I cooked a lot more.
*** I have never made zucchini noodles! I know Stephanie has made "noodles" from cabbage... via the Paleo diet... and loved the way they tasted.
Speaking of whom, she is going to write a Saturday post for me about micro cooking... when she gets some time.