How do you begin if you have no idea especially in the cooking, shopping and eating area?
You hear about having a well stocked pantry. What does that mean and how do you achieve that? Why should you have one, especially if you are on a low income or budget.
You do not need to have a beautiful expensive ‘pantry’, hidden behind doors with a sink and whatever. My pantry is just in my kitchen and really it is usually having more on hand, so one in use and one if I run out! For example, I make my own bread often. So I will buy a 5kg/11lbs bag of plain flour I have food grade storage for it. I take about 2kg/4.4lbs and put it in the canister. When I am putting the next 2kgs into the canister I will put flour on my shopping list. As I have to budget for the larger bag, I will see how much plain flour costs and I may only buy a 2kg bag that week.
Having a pantry allows you more freedom with the food you cook. Cooking from scratch is perhaps the biggest and yet for many the hardest place to begin their budgeting and saving money. With fresh vegetables and meat you can make delicious meals, and you can make snacks such as sweet and savoury, biscuits, cakes, pancakes and even pasta if you wanted too.
A pantry is their not for the end of the world I am not talking about a preppers hoard for anything that may come. I guess if you live in China at the moment and were a prepper you would be managing relatively well in the current situation with the virus.
I am really talking about how you can have supplies that you use and LIKE on hand to make things easier for you to be more likely to cook a meal than spend money getting a take -a-way, or home delivery. All which convienient are expensive in either cost or lack of real nutrition. The cheaper meals such as McDonalds KFC Hungry Jacks, and all similar are generally high in sugar and fat. Or have been processed so the actual nurtitional value apart from maybe fibre is neglible.
So where to begin
I have basics in my pantry, and even though there is only me, I buy the best price, generally larger quantities, but not always. The supermarkets are getting savvy to budget shoppers, and now it seems you do have to check the price of each against the other. Looking at the price per gram or 100gms rather than the ticketed price. You have to be prepared to spend some time, in not only preparing a list of what you need in your shopping but also the cost. Otherwise you may be paying to much.
Best Before and Use by dates, now these for someone older are really only a guide to how long things last. It is up to you how and what you do in regard to them. My own life experiences and life before these ‘helpful’ dates is I am prepared to use some items beyond the stamped dates on them. I am not suggesting you do this.
I have flour, just plain (all purpose) as I purchase baking powder to convert it to Self-raising. This means that I can purchase a larger quantity of plain flour (all purpose).
So plain flour and baking powder are on my pantry list.
I also have rye flour and whole wheat as I make my own bread and like rye bread.
Cornflour/Cornstarch (often in Australia this is made from wheat). So I have to check that it is real corn flour from corn.
Rolled oat, great for breakfast porridge, you can use them in biscuits and slices, and to crumb chicken and other meat. They can be ground to make gluten free flour.
Sugar, I have raw and brown. I usually have white icing sugar, (confectioners sugar)
Bicarb soda (baking soda)
Dried beans and lentils, great to whip up a dahl or a curry to extend a stew reduce meat intake
Rice I have white and brown. which ever you like what ever sort jasmine long grain short grain.
I also have powdered milk (for those times I run out of fresh milk or the power is off and I dont want to be opening the fridge up)
I also keep semolina I make a sweet pudding if I am craving something sweet
polenta I use it instead of bread crumbs for meat and fish
I have almond meal use it in cooking, and added to porridge or yougurt
peanuts, I make my own peanut butter but also have them as a snack
Home made dried apricots and apples
stock powder for soup base,
Oils and Sauces
rice bran oil
vinegar cider, white, and balsamic
Home made sweet plum chili sauce
Herbs and Spices
home made jams
peanut butter home made
relish green tomato home made
I also have frozen vegetables
butter in the freezer which I buy on sale
meat also when it is on sale I buy extra and freeze it.
I also buy 1kg block of cheese when it is on sale and cut it up and freeze it.
I grow garlic, so have fresh garlic most of the year along with herbs that I grow.
I also grow vegetables, parsley, bay leave, onions, chives, spring onions, corriandor (so I have seeds to grind for cooking), garlic chives, fruit, and hazlenuts.
This is my basic pantry. I do not have biscuits or chocolates in it as I can’t I eat them in one go. sigh
It is a lot of food. You will notice I do not have tins of soup. I prefer to make my own and freeze it.
I also make my own bread mostly so very rarely have bread in the freezer.
It seems like a huge amount to have to get together. The reality is you begin simply. Buy one or two extra items if they are on sale and/or you can afford it.
Over time you will find you have things to assist in flavouring and preparing delicious home cooked meals. It helps with making simple food taste extra tasty.
Do not buy something because it sounds interesting or just because it is on sale. Only buy things you know you will use. It is not uncommon for people to get caught out buying something because it was on special or sounded interesting.
Herbs and spices can be a big on here. Buy only what you know you will use, and these sorts of things are best bought in smaller quantities.
Herbs and spices keep best in a air tight jars. Don’t be caught out paying the hefty extra price you might for a jar of herbs or spices. Wash up the jars from other items you buy and the lids, store your herbs in them. Or if you must buy the jar, do it only once then buy the bags and refill the jar. Dried herbs and spices are best kept out of direct sunlight.
My pantry has helped numerous times when I have had unexpected bills, or been ill and not able to go shopping.
Here in Tasmania most of our supplies are shipped over from the Australian mainland. We are supposed to have about three days worth of food available in supermarkets if for some reason shipping stopped. Which did occur quite a few years ago in the dockers strike. Another good reason to have a good pantry.
I am also a great believer that cooking extra and freezing it is always a good idea.
I am happy to answer or discuss the idea of having a pantry.
My pantry is maintained by ensuring I know how much of everything I have on hand, and adding it to the shopping list of things I need to buy. For me it is as simple as a list on the fridge. I use a wipe off marker and write how many or much I have and generally when I need to buy another one.
It is YOUR pantry no one else’s so you only have to please yourself and your family.
I am so thankful for my ability to have a pantry, and grateful for how it has helped me over time.
blessings to you all