A full pantry for a happy kitchen.

2016-07-05 09.21.18

Today I’m making homemade pizza.  It all started with the morning cartoons and Peg and Cat with all their counting and pizzas.  I am much like my youngest son in that I am very suggestive when it comes to food.  All it takes is a cooking show or a movie with a dinner scene.  Fortunately, I have a loaded pantry and I have all the ingredients to make our pizza dreams come true without calling Pizza Hut and blowing $30.   I’ll make 2 homemade pizzas for under $5 for each one.

I’ve been driving a lot the last few days and I just don’t have it in me to go to the store and I am really on a roll with penny-pinching.  The best way to be frugal is to just not spend money for anything but the basics.  You pay the rent and utilities, buy the groceries for the week or month and that is it!  It’s a hard game to play but when you turn it into a game it can become fun.

How do you play this ‘no spending’ game?  You learn to work with what you have, find things for free, and you stock up when you do the grocery shopping.  A fully loaded pantry makes for a complete and productive kitchen and that leads to a happy family.

How do you stock a pantry on a budget and with what?

You first find stores that give you the best bang for your buck. We are fortunate enough to have a WinCo.  Look about your town and see where you can really save.  If you are into the organics, cage free eggs, and non-GMO’s like most of us, never fear, many of the big stores are now offering a lot of clean and healthy foods.

If you cook from scratch you will save plenty.  For example; we love organic Dave’s Killer bread, however, it cost $5.99 at most stores.  If I buy flour and yeast I can make my own and for $5.99 I can bake up to 6 loaves of homemade wheat bread.  Another example is yogurt.  A pint of plain, organic yogurt is around $5.  If I make my own from a gallon of organic milk I can make almost 4 quarts for that same amount making it $1.25 or so a quart.

Making your own homemade food is not that hard.  You can even do a majority of the baking and cooking on the weekend if you work during the week.  I sometimes bake all my bread, make my yogurt, bake a couple chickens, and a huge pot of beans and a pot of brown rice one day a week.  I also will make a huge salad and store properly.  You then have days worth of food to mix and match into all sorts of dishes and meals.  This will save money and time and your family will eat very well and healthily.

Let’s stock that pantry.  Also, when there are great sales on items you use, stock up.  This is a great way to fill up that pantry.  It’s called stockpiling and it is smart for those times when the grocery money doesn’t stretch or times are really tight.  You will have a well-stocked pantry to feed the family through the weeks to follow.

Frozen Food:

I stock up on whole chickens when on sale.  Our chicken can get expensive because I insist on the antibiotic and hormone free, organic kind.  When this is on sale I pile up.  I also stock up on grass fed ground beef.

Frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh.  I always have bags and bags of mixed veggies.  We use the fresh first and I always run out at the end of a week.

Milk.  You can freeze milk if you get a great deal on organic milk.  They say cheese too but I haven’t tried.  Make sure and pour off some of the milk so it doesn’t explode.

Dry Pantry:

Here is where you can really stock it up!

  • A baking shelf loaded with wheat and white flour, yeast, baking soda, baking powder, sugar of whatever kind you use (white, brown, coconut), honey, vanilla extract, oil, salt, confectioners sugar, maybe a substitute sugar such as Stevia, Truvia.  Also, chocolate chips, coconut flakes.
  • Crackers.
  • Rice, both white and brown, beans, lentils, quinoa, pasta of all kinds, spaghetti, lasagna…
  • Canned beans, broths, cream soups, canned tomato sauce or just chopped tomatoes.
  • Canned meats, tuna, chicken.
  • Packets of dried mixes for making gravies, dressings, sauces.  I have packets for mushroom gravy, Ranch dressing, and pesto pasta.  You can make all this from scratch but sometimes these save time.
  • Seasonings.  I have a collection of Mrs Dash.  She has all kinds of great seasonings.  I also have big jars of garlic powder, onion powder, and I have big containers of seasonings I find in the Hispanic foods aisle.  Chicken and beef seasonings and such.  A couple I love for baked chickens is Chef Merito Chicken seasoning and his Garlic powder that I found at FoodCo.  I also use the big jar of Knorr Chicken Flavor Bouillon.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Raisins, nuts, nut butters.

This is a good start and you can add your own goodies.  You know what your family likes.  But just from this list, you can make:

  • bread, pizza dough, cakes, muffins, cookies.
  • casseroles, soups.
  • spaghetti, lasagna.

Get creative and look for outstanding sales.  Build up that pantry and practice the art of menu making, cooking ahead, and grocery shopping list.

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