|Lovely spearmint in a container.|
I think if there is one question I receive more than others, it is how to stock a pantry on a limited budget. Which, of course, I have a lot of practice with! Recently I had extra funds available to do a little pantry stocking. Not the "let's go to Sam's Club" stock up... but buying a little here and there at the grocery stores.
One thing that helps to stretch the limited funds is to know where to go to buy what. The grocery store I went to quite often when we lived in town is now the most expensive in the area. I pick up my prescriptions there and often peruse their aisles for sales. I will, however, purchase items there that are 1) on sale, or 2) only available there.
However, most of my shopping is done at Kroger or Meijers. I do occasionally go to Aldis, Target, or Walmart for items I know have the best price there. The best chocolate for the cheapest price? Definitely Aldis! Just saying... ;)
How I wish they would build a Trader Joe's here! But I digress...
In this last little bit of stocking, I concentrated on basics such as a couple large containers of canola oil, an extra bottle of Colavita Extra Virgin Olive oil, an extra bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar, two boxes of kitchen trash bags, a super large package of TP, a jar of organic whipped honey (on sale), two jars of my favorite lemon curd (on clearance prices), a couple packages of tea, and a few packages of dry kluski style noodles.
Now, my list may be completely different than essentials you would buy. For instance, I make scones once in awhile and my husband prefers them with lemon curd. They are one of my "hospitality pantry" items. The jar of whipped organic honey is also put back to use in the "hospitality pantry".
Since I am almost out of cans of coffee, they will soon become a priority. Adding a can now and then to the grocery list. Now that we are near the end of July, I need to go to the Farmer's Market to begin purchasing a jar of raw local honey now and then. Not only is it used in baking but my husband mixes raw honey and Bragg's Apple Cider to use medicinally.
Sometimes we get the Eden Organic Apple Cider if it is on sale. Like the Bragg's, it contains "the mother" as an ingredient. Which is necessary to make it medicinal. I always thought that sounded kind of creepy and it looks like something from the Black Lagoon on the bottom of the bottle. ;)
I will soon need to restock flour, too. If you don't want to stock both bread flour and AP flour, King Arthur's unbleached AP (All Purpose) flour has a high enough gluten level that it works well as both an AP flour and a bread flour. Currently I buy both kinds of King Arthur flours but I'm leaning in the direction of just buying their AP flour. I also have one container of their self rising flour but I don't stock extra since it has a shorter shelf life and I don't use it often.
I am once again learning the importance of keeping a list of items I need to purchase, even if it is only one extra. For I have forgotten items I was out of and the stock up funds should have included them.
I have to work around special diet needs for both of us. My husband is suppose to only eat organic foods but that is absolutely impossible. Instead, we work in organics the best we can. For instance, I buy organic milk because the Kroger brand is very reasonable. But we can't purchase organic cream, ice cream, cheese, etc.
I buy organic carrots as they are inexpensive and I buy organic lettuce only for him. I use regular lettuce. He can only have organic strawberries but he can get away with eating non-organic citrus fruit. I admit to having a few boxes of Amy's Organic Mac & Cheese on the shelf, too!
I need to always balance carbs and it may surprise people that insulin dependent diabetics must have a certain amount of carbs to balance meals. My low blood sugar emergencies have been when I haven't eaten in time or when I had a meal without carbs.
Orzo and a really good brand of dry noodles are used most often in cooking. I am not fond of rice and orzo works well in many rice recipes. Other dried pastas like spaghetti, fettuccine, etc. are very pantry friendly. The noodles have a good shelf life but the other pastas have been known to be in perfect condition after two years! By having canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, perhaps a good marinara sauce, etc.... a meal can be available at the last minute.
My freezer usually contains frozen vegetables purchased on stock up sales. I've used up everything and have not added additional freezer items since the defrosting of the freezer is on my Procrastination List and did not get done last week! Neither did anything else on the list. Sigh...
As I said, your list of what you would purchase should a little extra pantry funds come in would most likely be very different than mine. For instance, if I had children at home, peanut butter or almond butter would be very high on my list to keep stocked!
Some friends have lovely pantries full of food they have canned. Coveting? Who is coveting? ;)