Saturday, July 25, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Stocking a little here and there

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?  ;)


Anonymous said...

Brenda, thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share your accumulated wisdom. I'm popping in today to share one teensy tidbit I found a few years ago....If you are making something which calls for self-rising flour, here's a way to substitute:

1.5 teaspoons baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt
then fill the measuring cup with: 1.0 cup of all-purpose flour.
Then stir really well.

If you want more than one cup, I believe you need to multiply *each* of the 3 ingredients, starting with the baking powder and salt in the bottom of your bowl, and finishing with the main ingredient, flour. *Mix thoroughly* and store in a covered container. (I presume that means if you multiplied the recipe.)

I'm not a scientist so I can't say it works for absolutely every self-rising flour occasion, so you may want to try it in some of your recipes prior to relying upon it:)


Marie said...

Thanks for your wonderful post, Brenda. I always feel encouraged and blessed when I read your blog. Stocking a pantry is the way I was taught growing up, filling it with canned goods and needed items from the store at a good price. It's like a game to get as much we need as possible and spend the least money. I agree--you must know the prices at the available stores, and for sure there are some things at one store that are not stocked at another. Thank you again for a wonderful "visit."

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Thanks for sharing what you stocked up on! Very interesting!

I have been stocking up on some food items but I do need to get some extra TP and items like that.


Mary said...

Very interesting and good, Brenda. Thanks for learn in' me on Pantry Stock-up....I really enjoy putting away for the future and it makes one think.
I know, huh?! coveting, us? no way!! But, I do feel a little pressured to learn how to can for future use.
I came across a list of 18 fruits and vegs one doesn't need to buy organic...have you seen it? Might have gotten it from your site. I'll email it to you. Don't know if the info is 100% accurate, tho :/

matty said...

Terrific post! One of my projects this summer was to clean both freezers and the canning pantry and make an inventory of what we have on hand. This allowed me to see the gaps and think about what I needed to put more energy into growing and canning. It also helped me see how much of our pork and beef we have on had and to either can it for quick use when I go back to work or save more back when we process our meats for sale this fall... I think of Grandmother's pantry and yearn! :)

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your pantry posts! If we lived closer, I'd share some of that garden goodness I put in jars. Pam (SD)

Anonymous said...

Good article, Brenda! Don't wish much for Trader Joe's...we are in driving distance of 2 of them...neither of them are much worth going to anymore. Let me tell you why...well, I really do not understand the WHY...but here is what is going on: out of stock of some excellent pickles, for weeks and weeks and when we find them in (we have diabetes try not to buy corn syrup, coloring, preservatives in our food)...when I tell the clerk I have learned to buy as many as I can afford (8 to 10) when I find them in, they have the gall to tell me that is why it is not on the shelf!! NO! The reason it is not there, is someone is not doing their job to keep things stocked!! These pickles are sliced thinly and are prefect for let's see...when do most of us eat sandwiches the most?? In the summer of course. Or hamburgers too. They were also totally out of the kind and size (we are in a teeny apt with a VERY small fridge) of maple syrup we prefer...again. We have learned NOT to buy their taco shells unless using that day or the next for they are never on the shelf until almost the last date...or even past date. We have learned not to buy hardly any fresh veggies or fruit as if we cannot eat them that day or the next; they are spoiled. We can use very little of their frozen due to excessive use of hot peppers, or sugar, or corn syrup or colors. Doesn't sound a lot like the TJs of old. We began shopping in one in NC over a decade ago. While Aldis has improved a lot (carrying some gluten free and pure products now...look esp. for ones from Europe, like chocolate) least at the one in NC...out here in WA we have none closeby at least...during the time Aldis has improved, TJs has been going down the sad. I will miss them. I wonder if they intend to discontinue their stores? Here near us, these 2 TJs are in risky parts of town...not safe to be there after dark...after dark at one of them, we were accosted one night by some of our new residents from the middle east...not fun!! Scary!!)

Angela said...

I just wanted to add that in my Kroger I buy Daisy brand cottage cheese and sour cream. I prefer it over the organic because the ingredient list is basically milk, salt. The organic (Horizons) has quite a few unpronounceable additives. Plus Daisy is cheaper;)