Setting up a pantry

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.


My Pantry.
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.
popping corn

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
almonds
brazil nuts
Currants
sultanas
Home made dried apricots and apples
coffee,
tea
coconut desicated
cocoa powder
stock powder for soup base,

Oils and Sauces
olive oil
rice bran oil
soy sauce
Worcester
sesame oil
mayonnaise
honey
mustard
vinegar cider, white, and balsamic
Home made sweet plum chili sauce

Herbs and Spices
smoked paprika
sweet paprika
thyme,
oregano,
chili
tumeric
coriander,
cumin,
pepper
salt
nutmeg
cinnamon
powdered ginger
Vanilla essence

Tinned Goods
tomatoes
coconut milk
beans
chick peas
baked beans
sardines
tuna
tomato puree

Jars
home made jams
peanut butter home made
vegiemite
anchovies,
pickles,
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
Tazzie



Frugal Vegetable Gardening

I have been told by some people that it is to expensive to begin growing vegetables. By the time they purchase soil and pots or planters, the seeds or seedlings, fertilisers, it all adds up. They just can not afford it. Or composting is such hard work.

I was able to pick up pots of varying sizes from a gardening shop in Hobart for free. These were just plastic pots that people bought in to recycle and others could take and use. Rather than just throwing them out. Any second hand pots I suggest just a wash in hot water with dish washing detergent and dry in the sun. I have also been able to purchase from my local tip shop chipped and cracked ceramic pots and garage sales you can also pick up cheap pots sometimes with plants in them. (if you dont like the plant give it to someone and keep the pot). Also look out for hard rubbish pick up days.

However you do not have to have plastic pots or lovely ceramic pots to grow plants in. You can use all sorts of things. Tin cans, have been used by many people for a long time to grow veggies. I have used large veggie oil cans and biscuit tins. Drill a few holes in them, they are a pot.
Plastic storage boxes can be used, polystyrene boxes, I can usually get mine for free from seafood shop veggie shops sometimes my local supermarket.

Now for soil, here is a wonderful Youtube Channel Robbie and Gary Gardening Easy. Wonderful for those who want to begin to grow some veggies. Robbie grows veggies in her own soil/compost that she makes from scratch. It is so easy and involves little work. I have been doing it and it is brilliant! She saves all her kitchen scraps puts them in a plastic container, or container with holes drilled in it, uses the weeds she pulls up before they seed, and places them at the bottom of the container. She puts her scraps straight into the container, waters it a bit, and places a lid/cover with a weight on it to stop animals getting into it.

Because you have drilled/put holes in the bottom worms will make their way into the scraps and begin to break down the food scraps into wonderful soil/compost. Add dead or leaves and paper if you wish. Robbie can explain her system here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6eSaIEz2rQ

I also compost in place, meaning I will just put any leaves I pull off or that have fallen off I leave there in the area to compost in the bed. I will break up the stems and some plants such as legumes I leave the roots as when they break down they release nitrogen in the soil.

Some advice I will give you about seeds and seedlings. When I first started my vegetable gardening here in southern Tasmania, I was caught out by buying seedlings that were totally inappropriate for my location. The nurseries and gardening centres were selling seedlings, so I assumed they would be fine. Unfortunately no. Some were way to early for planting outside, and were actually for people to grow in hot houses/green houses/poly tunnels situations. Or were just not seedlings that were ever going to do any good down here.

One of the problems with purchasing seedlings from large garden centres and nurseries is that the seedlings may not have even been grown for this area. Same problem can occur with seeds. Some seed do not grow for me so well from big suppliers. I am in the fortunate position that we have a couple of relatively local seed savers who have began businesses that have seeds that they have grown and saved from the fruits, here in the area I live. I see a big difference in how they perform to how the others I have in the past purchased.

Being involved in a seed saving community group, and my local Crop Swap group has been marvelous as I get seeds and seedlings for no financial cost. Where seeds and seedlings as well as produce and anything related to veggie growing and food, can be shared. For the seed saving you grow one variety of say a bean that year, and you try to keep it pure. You can share some of the fresh peas or beans and then the majority you save for seed. Sharing and some will be saved so we have a supply of local seeds available if there is a crisis such as the bush fires here last summer (2018-2019) the crop swap group grew seeds and gave seedlings to the people who had lost their veggie gardens due to be evacuated and their veggie gardens were not watered so died. A simple thing the group did but such a welcome and unexpected thing. Others grew trees to help replace trees for free.

My growing awareness of the importance to monitor flowering of my veggies especially the brassicas, as they will cross pollinate, as will tomatoes, and other vegetables. I am also much more alert as to flowering weeds. Some I am happy to have flower as bees and birds will feast on the seeds Some such as sorrel and dandelions can be eaten. Scotch Thistle I love the flower it is wonderful as the root goes deep, I will let it flower and then take the flower off before it seeds.

Another thing that you can do is if you buy a cos/romaine/butter/iceberg lettuce is sit the base in water to keep fresh and as you use it, it will often keep growing. Cut the top of a pineapple and plant it you just may get a pineapple plant growing, spring onions place the bulb bit in a glass with some water so the roots are in it and it will grow more greens. I have even had a cabbage grow more when I sat it in a bowel with some water,

I recall a farmer saying to someone I knew that if you missed weeding one year it would take you seven to eradicate it. (he did not use weed killer) I have been working hard on a couple of weeds this year that have prickles that get into my dogs coats and my feet.

The other important thing I wish to share is You do not have to grow heaps to start with. I personally began with some garlic, and asparagus. Rather expensive to buy every year, but both really easy to grow. Garlic you can grow in pots. You may be able to grow some asparagus in a large container. I am not sure. Ginger and Tumeric I will bring mine indoors over winter. I have only planted them recently and they may grow may not.

Garlic grows form a clove, each clove will grow into a bulb. I need about 150cloves of garlic a year minimum for myself and my dogs, I also need to plant for the next year so I will be looking at growing about 50 cloves minimum. If each clove produces a bulb with 6 cloves I will have enough for the next year. hmmm Might plant more..lol

Herbs are expensive to buy and fairly easy to grow in pots. Lettuces grow beautifully in polystyrene boxes with holes in the bottom. As do spring onions, and chives. Strawberries too. If you grow lettuce grow an assortment. You can grow carrots in pots.

I really want to encourage people everywhere to be growing their own veggies, to ensure they have fresh and healthy produce.

Which does bring me to one area that can be of concern. If you do have a garden you really need to be aware of what possible sources of contamination may be or have been in your area. I had a flat in Hobart that thankfully I was not growing veggies in the ground, but neighbours in houses were. It turned out the soil in the area had been contaminated by the zinc works. It was never told to you when your were buying property in the area impacted, and the only way most people were alerted to the problem was a flyer that was put in letterboxes, saying that people should be checking for contamination in the soil, and to speak to council. We were on the opposite side and down from the zinc works but the wind blew contaminants over to our area. Apparently it was not common incident but happened several times over the years.

Similarly in Broken Hill in NSW lead levels in some children (and adults) were extreme levels the children were living in houses near the railway line and the BHP trains would go buy spreading lead filled dust as they went past. Peoples had tonnes of soil removed from their yards, their roofs, inside their homes under the roof. Yet people had been growing and eating vegetables in their gardens.

So growing many vegetables, herbs and some fruits in pots is possible, It is only as limited as your own abilities, and finances. Start with just one or two containers, think of something you really love to eat but find it to expensive to buy. Research it online and give it a try.

Please check out the Youtube channel I put above. I am not in anyway involved or gaining anything from promoting it. I just find wonderful and it worked for me.

I had my second tomato ripen and ate it today. I was so thankful to have it as it was delicious and worth the wait.

I will do an update of my Veggie garden soon.

blessings Tazzie

Frugal shopping?

You may have seen the following photograph and true story doing the rounds of social media very recently. I do not see it as a frugal shopping education yet some people are sharing it as such.

The Launceston woman said they tried to purchase the most value for money “basic” food items and the most popular cigarette brand.

“They were surprised at the amount of food you can buy for the same monetary value,” the grandmother wrote.

She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95 for a packet of 40.

She then posted an image and receipt of all the food they managed to buy for almost the same amount, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Ms Kerrison and her grandkids purchased a variety of food items for $56.85 – from a few packs of Woolworths beef sausages to Zafarelli pasta, fruit, milk, cereal, cheese and other snacks.

She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95, to teach her grandkids about what you can buy in food with the same amount of money. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison
She bought a popular brand of cigarettes, which cost $56.95, to teach her grandkids about what you can buy in food with the same amount of money. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison

“Must say, I hope this exercise has made them aware of life’s choices … and not to take up this habit,” the grandmother wrote.

Her post has gone viral with almost 10,000 comments and more than 16,000 shares.

The visual illustration of the cost of smoking left many people stunned, with Facebook users describing her challenge as “quite incredible”.

“Sometimes folk really need to visualise something and you did this beautifully, I hope all the friends and relatives will be inspired to give up when they see this. Again, thank you!” one person wrote on her post.

“Well done for putting this really great demonstration of what a choice can do,” one person wrote.

The grocery bill. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison
The grocery bill. Picture: Facebook/ JudyKerrison

“20 smokes a day at $25, basically go to Italy twice a year,” another observed.

“Well done! Awesome experiment … what a valuable lesson,” another person added while tagging their friend.

“That’s right, I agree, I gave up smoking 8yrs ago now n there’s no excuse, it can be done, thankyou for sharing this!” said a third person.

Many reiterated that Ms Kerrison’s challenge was a “great way to make a point that involves them (the grandchildren) and they physically see the difference”.

“A lesson they will never forget. Well done,” one said.

http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/startling-truth-about-grocery-bill/3931607/

I am not a smoker. I do not know how any one on a low income can afford to smoke and buy food. Especially if like me he or she is on Newstart. Yet people do. I would love to know how. I certainly couldn’t and I own my house and have no debt.

You need to know that Australia has the most expensive cigarettes in the world. You also need to know we have very strict laws about where you can and can not smoke. You can not smoke in or around any where that serves food, you can not smoke in your car if you have children in the car. There are specific areas of some venues and restaurants that you can smoke in. It varies from state to state. You should look up the rules if you are traveling to Australia.

blessings Tazzie.

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