Saturday, February 15, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - The $50.00 Stockup

Ever the curious kitty, someone had to check out what was on "her" table.
Since I had one of those rare opportunities for stock up a bit this past week, I thought it a good time to share what my priorities are for the pantry.  More of the "Show and Tell" type of Pantry post.

I perused my pantry shelves to find what I needed most and what could use "one extra".

Total cost... $50.00 plus a dollar or two tax.

My $50.00 stock up challenge took me first to Aldi's, where I can always get the most purchase power for my dollars.  Similar... and perhaps even cheaper... prices can be found at stores like Kroger if I had time to wait on a sale.

It's fairly easy to see what my largest stock up item was as one sees two flats of the Aldi's brand stewed tomatoes.  I don't suggest stocking up on anything you haven't tried first (believe me, I speak from experience!) but I knew I liked the Aldi's brand just fine.  My preference is Hunt's or Red Gold but neither was on sale recently.

I had some cans of regular chopped tomatoes and a few large cans of whole tomatoes on my shelves.  But I was completely out of stewed tomatoes and I use them a lot.  Perhaps because my mother always used stewed tomatoes and I like the taste they add to a dish.

My preference for TP is Charmin Basic but we were almost out of TP and this Aldi's brand was very reasonable.  It's not the horrible cheapy stuff that some of the food pantries give out.  Good if not luxurious.  But I have other places I want to spend for luxury.

I bought one bottle of canola oil.  If I had the money, I would always purchase non-GMO oil but it is not possible.  My husband does purchase a small bottle at a time at the health food store's 20% off Senior Citizen Day.  That is used for salads, along with extra virgin olive oil.

One of the things I learned when researching what people experienced in WWII, is that a lot of the dietary related deaths were due to a lack of available fat in the diet.   Not to mention it makes cooking a lot easier.  So we do the best we can, with inexpensive canola oil for cooking... and non-GMO oil as well as extra virgin olive oil for other needs.

Stephanie replaces light olive oil for canola in part of her cooking but she has access through her co-op to getting it at a great price.

I added three cans of mandarin oranges to the pantry shelves.  I keep sources of vitamin C for the weeks when we can't purchase fresh.  Of course, juice would work but that is one food source diabetics need to be careful with.

I bought one jar of German style sauerkraut to add to the pantry, Hubby eats it a couple times a week as part of his health regimen.  I cook with it.  I also added one jar of pickles.  Pickling was a way our great grandparents and generations prior to them added veggies to their winter diet.

I purchased a large box of heavy large trash bags since I am almost out of the box already at home.  One box of tissues was purchased.  When we had colds, they were a multiple box stock up item!

Instead of purchasing an extra container of Maxwell House for the pantry (which at the moment has been our go-to coffee), I bought a box of the Aldi Donut Store Blend K-cups.  They are very reasonably priced and we were completely out of K-cups.

I had been purchasing the Green Mountain apple cider K-cups previously when Kroger had them on a Holiday Season sale.  Alas, they are back to their normal expensive price!  So the inexpensive coffee will do.  :(

But I digress... I hope you see that I do put some thought about what I buy when I don't have much money for a "big" stockup.   Items that give the most nutrition for the money become very important.  If I had children at home, I'd probably not make a priority of sauerkraut or pickles but instead purchase canned fruit.

I should mention that when Kroger has their 10 for $10.00 sale, I stock up on frozen veggies for the freezer!  A great way to get some veggie nutrients for less.

I left Aldi's and moseyed across the highway to the grocery store that usually has meat on sale.  I must admit to sticker shock!  I had enough meat in the freezer that I hadn't shopped for much for a couple months.  I could not believe it when the "inexpensive" chuck roast I use for soup was $15.00.  That used to be organic prices... and this was not even "all natural" meat!

I did end up with one family size package of deboned chicken breast on sale (not a national brand), which I split up at home with two pieces in the frig for use this weekend and the remainder in the freezer.

I also went to that grocery store as it is the only one close to me that sells Barilla orzo.  I bought two boxes for my shelf.  Now, there are some things I don't buy cheap and I've mentioned before that pasta is one of them.  Especially as a diabetic, I need the best pasta I can buy.  Cheap pasta is akin to... glue.

My nutritionist says pasta is fine as long as it is balanced with protein and veggies.  Also, pasta for anyone with blood sugar issues should be cooked aldente'.  That's the way Italians (who should know) cook it, anyway.   It is less likely to spike your blood sugar that way.  Which is also why, if I know I will have leftovers of chicken noodle or chicken orzo soup, I cook the pasta on the side and add it to the soup when serving.  The longer pasta cooks, the more glycemic it becomes.

The two other items on the table are an Aldi's shopping bag, which Hubby asked me to buy.  He takes them to food pantries instead of using their sacks.  I use them for... Aldi's.  They are only $1.99 and very roomy.

Then there is the thyme plant, which was on sale for $2.99 at the second store.  I've been missing the fresh thyme from my garden so when I saw it on sale, I put back the package of sun dried tomatoes I had in the cart and reached for the thyme.

It also is part of our decision to add more greenery to our home (as in real plants).  We hope to purchase a few ivy and spider plants soon.  A natural way to cleanse the air.

Besides exchanging a couple items for another, I was going to purchase a package of batteries.  But Hubby bought a small package of AAA batteries a few days before with rebate credit at Menard's so I used that money on other items.

Perhaps the most important way we stock the pantry and emergency kits on a fixed income is... one purchase at a time!

For instance, what items would we absolutely need should there be another winter storm and the power goes out?  Those items become our priority for the "add just one item to the grocery cart a week" stock up.  Many times that item is a package of D or AA batteries, those we use the most.

Hubby's purchase recently was one small package of AAA batteries as we only use them for the DVD remote.  So no need for a huge stock up but they are essential if we want to use the DVD player.

I know many people who have no pantry or emergency kit at all because they say they cannot afford it.  But almost everyone I know can make one small purchase a week, or at least a couple times a month.

One package of batteries, or one container of lamp oil (should you have an oil lamp), or one box of "strike anywhere" matches and a few candles, or one package inexpensive paper plates, or one small package of TP to put back for emergencies, or a case or water... it all adds up!

So, I hope this additional show and tell helps you see what goes into my stocking up strategy.  When I do have a larger amount available to do some serious stocking, it is pretty much similar to this.  Of course, I also watch for sales on favorite brands.

A Nutritional Approach to Food Storage... here.  If you scroll all the way down, there is a very good embedded handout of one family's nutritional priorities in their pantry. There is a link within it to a different page where the list is a little easier to read.

There is a lot of good information here but I do find some of these types of articles overwhelming when they offer suggestions for a very deep pantry.  (Not that a very deep pantry is a bad idea if you have the room and the budget!).

But I found if you peruse through this one, she offers a lot of good information as well as lists to use when making your own stock up list.


suzanne said...

I appreciate your tips about cooking pasta. I didn't know about the glycemic count going up the longer the pasta is cooked! I am not diabetic, but your blog has made me more aware of my sugar intake. Something I think everyone should be mindful of. I also appreciate the manageable "stock-up" tips. It is practical and helpful for those of us on a REAL budget.

Vee said...

My favorite thing to do is to have $5 or $10 dollars set aside to make those purchases based on an exceptional markdown that is unexpected. I do quite well with those. I was a little urprised to see the fresh herbs in your stash, but why not? They serve multiple purposes for the same amount of cash. Better than a bouquet of flowers!

Echoes From the Hill said...

Fifty dollars certainly doesn't buy what it did a few years ago, but you did well.

I don't like sauerkraut, but I love that jar! What a great jar for food storage in the pantry.


Anonymous said...

Great post!! You know, I think the pickles and sourkraut are very good ideas...VERY!! When we are ill, I try to remember to add a heaping tablespoon of saurkraut to the chicken soup...have read that it helps kill viruses...and in the soup it is not unpleasant at all. But if you are ill, it is best to get some that has not been canned, but in the fresh area of the deli, because canning can take away some of the good stuff in it!!
Just sent you a couple coupons again...expect in a couple days.
Elizabeth in NC

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Post! Thanks too for adding the information about cooking pasta. I remember you have mentioned some of it before but the added information is something I hadn't thought of. I often need reminders of things anymore! :). Honey, check around as many people might have ivy or spider plants you can have a cutting of them they would gladly give you. I know I do! I live too far away though. :( I had started a list of our most basic basics. Even though I thought I had a good stock up already I found since we use these things oftener they were running low! Listing the store that usually has the best price for each item would help me too. Thanks! Sarah

mdoe37 said...

I looked at the stack of groceries and said, "$50?!?" There is serious sticker shock with groceries. I know as I just left Walmart a couple of hours ago with lemon pudding, lemon cake mix and cat food on the list. $90 later, cough,....THE husband was with me. I'm trying a different brand of mayo as Hellman's is really pricey.

Meat is incredibly expensive! I was fortunate to put some venison in the freezer this year so I have burger and stew meat. But I don't use the burger for hamburger patties as its way too lean. The processor wrapped all my meat in 1# packs...I'll admit that I re-wrapped it into 3/4# packs to make it stretch. I've also experimented with ground turkey which has been $2.49 a pound at a Spartan store. Its certainly okay in casseroles and whatnot.

I cook my pasta separate from the soup as well. Not because it would overcook, but so that the husband knows exactly how many carbs to count rather than guess. He measures out his pasta to his bowl and then adds soup. Yup, I actually have a set of cheap plastic 1 cup measures on the counter.

Your posts are truly inspirational and I look forward to them every week!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

That is a great way to get a visual of how to buy stock up items, as in what a person might purchase.

You are right, all of us can afford to buy one thing, extra.

Good, good post. So encouraging.


Mama Squirrel said...

We like Barilla pasta too, and surprisingly it is often on sale here--I have gotten it recently for a dollar a box.

skmanning said...

Great comments on the pasta - I did not know any of that. Barilla has been $1 a box by me a lot for a while too (TX).

You ought to ask around to see if anyone has a spider plants with babies. They can cut one or more off and you can put them in water and once they have roots go a head and plant them.

Love your posts!

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
My goodness, I enjoyed your post today! Some really good tips. I will check out my pantry this week and enjoy making a list of needed items to stock up. I also like the idea of fresh herbs. It is a treat to add fresh to dishes as a tiny package of fresh herbs is so expensive. Will have to keep my eye out for some sales. Have a great week end. Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

Brenda, Thank you again for the encouraging advice on stocking up, your common sense approach is the best way I think.

Beef, yes, its really gone up and we have it on the menu less all the time. How do families with growing children ever manage?? And do you find it harder all the time to keep track of the best prices??

Ivy & Spider plants... The lady who suggested checking around for someone who might give you a clipping is right, these plants are very easy to take slips from. If I lived nearer I would be happy to give you starts from my plants.

Batteries...A year ago at Christmas my hubby bought us an inexpensive solar lantern at Harbor Freight for $20. Now to be honest he only got it because of my constant talk of being better prepared for emergencys and though we do have batteries and oil lamps on hand, solar seemed like a good idea. Last August our area was hit with a tornado, fortunately for us we were just south of the worst of it, but we were without power for 13 hours. The lantern was wonderful, we could set it where we wanted light and not worry about fire or holding a flashlight. By the way, my hubby began to understand that day what I was talking about. On his way out of the subdivision he realized how bad the damage was and instead of heading to work he went to Sam's and bought the last generator they had. Our project next week? Putting in a wood pellet stove. We have natural gas, but the supply problems earlier this winter have us thinking of a back up plans.

May God be with you, Marsha

Anonymous said...

I am usually a lurker to your blog, but I really liked todays post. I didn't know about the way you cook your pasta. While I am not a diabetic nor is anyone in my family, it is great to know! Groceries are so expensive anymore, so anyway that we can stretch our budgets is helpful. I love your blog!

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

It was great to get a visual and the thought process behind your purchases!

Meat prices really have gone up! As to the pasta, I'm insulin resistant and we have switched to brown rice pasta. Although we try not to eat much pasta or grains. It's hard when you're on a special diet to keep a reasonable grocery budget. Kroger has a canned citrus salad that I always keep a few cans of.

Having had to major snow/ice events this month has really depleted my pantry. It's the emptiest I've seen it in a long time but I was grateful to have it well stocked since we couldn't get out to go to the grocery store.

Anonymous said...

That's a good suggestion about buying one extra item a week.Helpful since I need to
Build up the stash
But don't have the cash.

jules said...

All that and a cat too! For only $50??? How wonderful!