Monday, February 4, 2013

Creating a Money Saving Pantry

Grocery savings start with your pantry.  The pantry is, or should be the heart of your kitchen.  Your laboratory so to speak.  Inventions, creations and master pieces all begin with the well thought out, well planned and well stocked pantry.

Now, I'm going to take a break here and  fix myself a cup of coffee and I want you to get up and go look in your pantry and take a thorough slow look at what is in there.  If you don't have a pantry, open your cabinet doors and look inside.  Believe it or not, I'm being very serious here.  Have you ever just taken a moment to look inside your pantry or cabinets and see what you have?

Coffee Break

O.K. back now.  I've given you roughly 4 minutes to go look in your pantry.  If you are like a lot of people, most households in fact, your pantry needs a make over.  I love the picture above because it is spot on to the typical family pantry.  Take a good look.  Seriously, scroll back up and take a good look at the picture above.  Does it look similar to your pantry?  Odds are it does.   What do you see?

I see jars and bottles and cans and bags and boxes of processed foods.  Now ask yourself this question......can you truly name the ingredients of everything in each jar, bottle, can, bag and box.  Test yourself.   Oh, wait, you didn't really look in your pantry but now you want to.....not a problem.  I'll go let the dogs out.  While you are there, grab one jar, bottle, can, bag or box of something and read the ingredients.  Now scoot!!!


O.K.  All breaks are now over.  Did your pantry look like the one pictured above?  Could you recognize all of the ingredients on the package?  Could you pronounce them?  If I asked you now, what is xyz, could you tell me without having to think about it?  Neither could I.

Here's something to think to your house/apartment and your vehicle, food is the next big ticket item you pay for.  Fortunately, one day your house and your vehicle will be paid for and you can delete that line item off of your budget.  Unfortunately, you can never delete groceries off your budget completely.  You will always need to purchase some type of groceries.

But De Anna, you don't understand.  I have a full time job, 2 kids, laundry to do, a house to clean, errands to run, I have to run Johnny here and take Susie there.  There is just not enough time.

#1 - I do understand because I have been there and I did it too.  For many moons I was a single mom with a full time job, a part time job and three kids.  Trust me, I've been there.

#2 - There is time when you learn how to do it and make it a priority.

#3 - Look at what we are teaching the youth of today.  How many of our youth, girls and boys, don't know how to cook at all.  It's really sad.  And it's our fault.

We have become a world of convenience and who is benefiting?  The manufacturers and the medical industry.  Look at how much money is spent on medications every year to lower cholesterol.  What about high blood pressure.  And we are a society that is basically over weight.  I'm not saying you are, but the majority of America is and it's our own doing.  We have handed off our meals to the manufacturers and they, for the most part, don't care about our health.  They care about making a dime from your hard earned money.

Now before you start muttering OMG and WTF and all of the other cutsie little acronyms, take a second and take a deep breath.  We're not going to get a trash bag and throw everything out.  I would be mortified if you did that.  What we are going to do is start with the basics and slowly start eliminating things you have to purchase.  I've already given you the first one and that was the breakfast sausage.  With the recipe I gave you, there is no need for you to ever purchase pre-made sausage again.

So what are the basics?  Very simple and hopefully you have some of them already in your pantry, but they are probably hidden behind the processed foods.  I call them the essentials


Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Cooking Oil 

The ingredients above are necessary items if you are going to start cooking for yourself and stop purchasing processed foods.  If you have these items great.  Get them all together and put them in one section of your pantry.  That's where you begin.

Let's talk about a couple of these items:

Baking Powder - While it usually has an expiration date of one year, baking powder can go bad or lose its potency which can dramatically affect your cooking.  Baking powder is a rising agent but can lose its potency over time.  Manufacturers give it a shelf life or expiration date of usually one year but if store properly, it can last an indefinite amount of time.

Cornmeal - it can be either white or yellow.  Which ever you like.  They both pretty much work the same way.  Usually the only difference in cornmeal is whether it is stone ground which is coarser or regular ground which is finer.  Some people think yellow cornmeal is a bit sweeter.  If it was made from sweet yellow corn, then it is sweeter than white corn.  Other than that, no difference so purchase whichever you prefer.

Flour - There are many types of flours out there (wheat, bread, rye, etc.), but for now I would suggest starting out with basic All Purpose Flour.

Pasta - Spaghetti noodles, egg noodles and macaroni are the first choices.  There are tons of dishes you can make with these ingredients so you can't go wrong with them in your pantry.

Sugar - White sugar only.  We'll talk more about brown sugar later.  Don't worry about getting specially processed right now.  Remember, we are starting out slow.

Yeast - comes in the cutsie little 3-pack or you can actually buy little jars of it.  Again, choice is yours.

Shortening - Get the plain whipped shortening.  Do not get the butter flavored.  You don't want to know what is in it.  Trust me.

Cooking Oil - Preferred is Virgin Olive Oil but of course.  Don't want to spend the money, then get vegetable oil for now.  We'll talk about where to buy Olive Oil later.

Now you have the essentials.  Like I said, check your pantry for the items above that you have and find a place in your pantry where they can all live together.   Nothing goes in that spot but these items.

Now don't go blowing your budget by rushing out and purchasing these items all at once along with your normal grocery purchases.  Buy one here and one there until you have them all.  We will be adding things to this so don't think this is not enough for a pantry.  Trust me that you pantry will have a lot more items in it.  Think baby steps.

Until next time,



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