Saturday, October 08, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Stock up days ponderings

The first full week of the month is always my stock up grocery time.  Now I spread it over two days instead of one exhausting day of grocery shopping at Aldi, Meijer, and sometimes Kroger if there is time.

For newer readers who are unfamiliar with my grocery buying habits, since my husband had to go on Social Security Disability a little over seventeen years ago (and was phased into regular Social Security at age 65), we have been "paid" once a month.

So, I started doing most of my grocery shopping at the beginning of the month when we also paid all of our bills.  That way I would be certain to purchase our most important groceries.  The grocery shopping the remainder of the month was to fill in with dairy and fresh ingredients as needed.

I still follow that way of grocery shopping since it has been successful now for so many years.  Once debts from before going on Disability were paid, it gave us a little more cash to spend on groceries as the month went by and we were able to save for big purchases.  Only God could have stretched the little into more than enough!  Generous friends helped out on Holidays (they are angels in disguise).

I have an ongoing list that I add to over the month, reorganizing it before I go shopping.  It not only contains items I need purchase that I have run out of but I add items to the list that I will "put back".  Sometimes a video or an article remind me of an item I hadn't thought of before but often they are food items I already have as a priority like coffee, or something practical like extra cooking oil.

With inflation being out of control, I mostly purchase extra food and nonfood essentials these days to deepen the pantry.  As it is possible, I add a little extra each month to my "emergency" shelves.  They do get rotated if necessary.  I date all the cans these days, even if they are an item I plan to use right away.

The shortages are such that it takes going to three or more stores to purchase what is on my list.  Usually I can find what I need but some items, like Sheba cat food, I have had to purchase from Amazon off and on. It is almost impossible to find the Sheba Florentine likes at the grocery stores in the past year or two.

Some food items are available but scarce such as sugar.  There was only one box on the shelf of the Sugar in the Raw packets I use for my coffee each morning.  I like it because I know exactly how much sugar I am putting in my coffee before I take my breakfast insulin.  There was cane sugar available but gosh have the packages been downsized as the price has increased!

Meijer was almost out of rice, something I don't remember ever seeing before.  I have been reading about worldwide crop failures of rice.  Which may be annoying for some western countries but could bring famine to the countries that depend on rice for the majority of their diet. 

I have read that rice crop failures in Italy will mean less arborio rice they use for risotto.  If you make risotto, you may want to stock up.  I will link to the article below, their olive oil and tomato crops are threatened, too.  

In the article, it also mentioned Spanish olive crops being in danger. It tells me I should try to budget more to put back some extra bottles of the California extra virgin olive oil we use, even if it is one extra a month. That is why I like to read what is going on around the world as far as crop failures, in today's environment we are all linked globally.

Back to the empty shelves of rice here... there was one large bag of Meijer white rice and two large bags of Uncle Ben's converted rice left, otherwise that shelf was completely empty.  All that was left were the bags of specialty rice, like the smaller bag of organic rice which is what I purchase.  

Rice is heavily sprayed as it grows, which I didn't know until recently. So, once a month I am purchasing a small bag of the organic rice.  Usually I buy the Lundberg brand of basmati or jasmine rice. The price is reasonable since rice overall is still inexpensive.

I have to be careful with white rice but when mixed with other food in a casserole or a soup (or as beans and rice), the carbs are cut enough that it doesn't hike my blood sugar.  Like cooking with pasta, it helps to add a lot of vegetables to the recipes, too. Which has the side benefit of lowering calories and increasing nutrition.

Beans are still inexpensive so when I stock up at Aldi, I like to purchase three or four cans of their organic black beans.  We love the new black bean burger recipe. I first made black bean burgers from a mix and I was surprised how much we liked them.  This recipe is less expensive and it has no preservatives.  I will link it again below. I had been searching for an easy black bean burger recipe and this one is very easy.

I purchase one can of Keystone beef at Meijer each month.  This time I purchased beef since it will make a good base for vegetable beef soup and the Use By date is five years out, although it would be good past that date.  Keystone canned meats have gone up in price like everything else but purchasing one can is still do-able in my budget.  

It never ceases to amaze me how one can build up their pantry a little at a time.  While I do purchase extra when I get a good sale (like the Kroger green beans last month), most of what is in my pantry was purchased a little here and there. Often when I go over recipe cards and write down what I will need to make certain recipes in the near future.

I finally remembered to put a bag of Keebler Sandies on my grocery list this month.  When Stephanie and I attended a fabulous cooking lesson/dinner at Colonial Williamsburg (ten years ago, maybe?), the chef talked about using these cookies crushed instead of graham crackers.  If crushed completely, they will form into a crust without added butter and add a good flavor.

I may purchase another bag of them next month and each will be slipped into a gallon size Ziploc bag and placed in the deep freeze.  If they are not used to make a crumb pie crust, they will be handy to take out of the freezer when little people arrive wanting a snack.

Speaking of the deep freeze, I have been taking the quart size containers of chicken broth I had frozen out of the freezer and defrosted each to use in soup now that it is cooler weather.  Two containers have now been washed and put back with the other empty containers.  There is one left and when all have been used, I will make a big batch of chicken soup stock to both use at that time and to fill three more containers with healthy stock for the freezer.

I do like the idea (as mentioned in comments recently) of placing meals in Ziploc bags for easy storage in the freezer.  There was a really popular cookbook at one time where the two women got together once a month to prepare meals for the freezer and if I remember, they mostly used Ziploc bags that they froze flat for easy storage.  Was it called Once a Month Cooking?

I can't do a lot these days but I can do a little and making chicken (bone) stock is one of them.  Soup takes time but it is easy.  Another change I have made is to keep on hand some quick frozen food to use in the air fryer instead of stopping for overly expensive fast food when I have had appointments taking me away from home. 

I will pay for a Chinese take out meal for each of us because it tends to be healthy, full of vegetables, and there is enough for leftovers the next day. Which makes it quite reasonable.  It is still possible to get a reasonably priced meal at the local drive-in but it will close for the season soon. With our dollars buying less, we have all had to rethink priorities.

The air fryer was a gift and the more I use it, the more I like using it.  It also uses less electricity than turning the oven on.  I know a lot of friends love slow cookers but I ended up giving mine to Goodwill a few years ago after not using it for many years.  I just cook differently.  However, the air fryer has proven to be a winner and has earned space (which there is not much of at all) on the kitchen counter.

I pulled a few favorite cookbooks off the shelves this past week for cool/cold weather ideas.  I ended up making the apple cranberry crisp (without cranberries) from Susan Branch's Fall book and it was delicious.  She doesn't add sugar to the apples, brown sugar is just in the "crisp" part so it is not overly sweetened. I am going to try it with cranberries added soon.

I have been taking a bit of a vacation from prepper videos and as mentioned before, I stopped watching a few of them.  Especially those that were ranting more than giving good advice. It is easy enough to have anxiety without listening to rantings.  However, just from what I have been hearing from people I still listen to (like the Boots on the Ground segments of Southernprepper1), anything one can do to put back extra will be helpful.

It was so good to hear from long missing friends again! I am sorry if any of you wrote an email that I did not respond to over the spring or summer.  I had some that I had pinned to get back to later and they didn't show up on the tablet.  They were not in view until I brought up my blog emails on the computer, which I didn't do for a long time.   I'm not ignoring anyone, at least on purpose.

Keep alert but fear not!

Mentioned in this Blog Post

The black bean burger recipe (we rarely eat it on any bun)... here.

Susan Branch's Apple Cranberry Crisp recipe... here.

Article about crop failures in Italy... here.  (Interesting article!)

Image: This was from a long ago trip to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.  I love seeing how women used to preserve food for the winter.


Anonymous said...

If you have space, a slow cooker is excellent for making broth.

Vee said...

My crockpot doesn't get much use, except at holiday time. Now my air fryer and Instant Pot see a lot of action. I really enjoy making hard boiled eggs, spaghetti, and chicken legs in the Instant Pot.

The Lord and I had a heart to heart today. I am trusting Him to stretch the budget to meet the need. Two years ago, I had more than enough without worry. The difficult thing is realizing that this has all been done by design. By design everywhere around the world. Incredible. Yet, we know God will lead us on.

Thank you for another wonderful post.

Mrs. White said...

I appreciate your sharing the things you are buying to keep your pantry stocked. It is such an important skill, especially with a limited income. I love your idea of freezing cookies to have on hand when needed for a snack. God bless you!

Mandy said...

It’s good to keep stocking up. Prices sure are going through the roof on some things. It’s getting harder to find our kitty’s favorite cat treats.

Unknown said...

There used to be an easier way for me to link through your Amazon affiliate link. I search through your posts to find something that you recommend from Amazon. Is this the way it still needs to be done or is there an easier way since all of the posts are not linked to Amazon.