After a trip to the store today, I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the things I try to have stocked in my kitchen at all times. Keeping things affordable is important with our big family, so I buy very little prepackaged convenience food. The kids help in the kitchen — they make their own breakfasts almost every day, they keep us stocked in homemade cookies, AND they do dishes. (do you hear the angels singing??) But I do the majority of the serious cooking, and it rarely takes more than an hour or so a day. Check out my recipe page for lotsa quick ideas, the majority of which can be made using the pantry items I listed below. If it’s highlighted on the list below, that means I make it myself and have linked to the recipe for you.
Baking: Flour, sugar, brown sugar, honey, baking soda, baking powder, yeast, cornstarch, baking cocoa, chocolate chips, coconut, GF flour, cornmeal, quick oats, vanilla, coconut oil, olive oil, shortening.
Spices: basil, berbere, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, oregano, paprika, pepper, salt, thyme, and taco seasoning.
Pantry: Pinto beans, lentils, split peas, garbanzo beans, rice, pasta, ramen, potatoes, onions, garlic, popcorn, coconut milk, evaporated milk, pancake syrup, vinegar, peanut butter, tea, coffee, creamer, raisins, cold cereal.
Fridge: eggs, milk, butter, block cheese, cream, cream cheese, apples, oranges, lemons or limes, carrots, cabbage, spinach or kale, soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce, ketchup, mayo, yogurt, mustard, salad dressing, flour tortillas, corn tortillas.
Freezer: chicken, ground beef, corn, green beans, sweet peppers, grated zucchini, pepperoni, grated cheese, loaves of bread, orange juice concentrate, ice cream, pork roasts or a turkey when they are on sale.
Splurge/easy items that I sometimes buy: salmon, fish sticks, tater tots, hot dogs. I serve this type of thing a couple days a month, no more. And though I always have cereal around, we usually only have it for Sunday morning breakfast. Too spendy for its limited tummy-filling capabilities.
When I shop I have price points beyond which I will not to buy. For example, I try to buy meat when it is no more than $2/lb. I can usually find chicken for that, but it is hard to find ground beef that low, so I stock up when I see it. Turkeys will be affordable soon, and I’ll probably buy two or three, then cook them one at a time in the roaster, serving part right away, and chopping the rest into portions for enchiladas, etc. Right now I probably have 30 lb of ground beef in the freezer, some of which I’ve already cooked up and some of which I’ve made into hamburger patties. I stock up on butter when it is $2/lb or less, and freeze all but a few pounds.
I try not to spend more than $1/lb for fruit, or $2.25/lb for cheese. I just bought a 20 lb box of apples for $13, and will be buying oranges now as the prices are coming down below $1/lb. To get eggs for $1.20/doz or less I usually have to buy a 5-dozen pack. I try to buy peanut butter for $.11/oz or less, and pasta when it is less than $1/lb. I aim for cereal that is $2 or less for an average size box. All these various price points help me know when to stock up and when to wait, so that as much as possible we are eating things I’ve bought at their lowest price points.
What is on your list of pantry essentials? What is your favorite way to save at the store? Your favorite splurge? Mine has got to be sushi from Fred Meyers. Our local Fred Meyers has a lady who does a fabulous job on their sushi. So yum.
- Five easy ways to save $20
- More about my produce-buying habits
- Pantry Ideas from The Prudent Homemaker
Y’all know about my cookbook too, right? If you’ve got a friend interested in good food or saving money on groceries, it makes a great gift!