|Good cookbooks are part of my Pantry Lifestyle!|
Here are a few ways I keep a pantry. Nothing profound, whatsoever... but it may spark some ideas of your own.
I have yet to try the Cheese & Spinach since they were a very recent purchase. And for just the two of us, I can get two to three meals from each package according to the way I use them.
These would also be perfect for your Hospitality Pantry, the package says they serve 4 - 6 and since the first time I made them, I cooked the entire bag at once... I can assure you when cooked there is a lot of pasta goodness there!
This kind of pantry item is a little different than stockpiling regular dried spaghetti, rotini, etc. since it contains a lot of flavor already. One could cook them and then toss in some butter and herbs and they would be fine... or garlic and butter... or as I did a tomato based sauce.
It can be especially difficult when you have special dietary needs to deepen a pantry on a budget. Then you add in taste and well... it can be a challenge. But part of the ways cookbooks (and some cooking shows) help is to provide various ways to use new-to-me ingredients.
I also have found yummy substitutions for some foods that I don't care for. Like the almost empty orzo box above (yes, I need to buy a few boxes again!). I don't care for white rice unless it has added flavorings which can have a lot of sodium and preservatives. Although I do love the Zatarain's New Orleans Style Jambalaya mix to use as a side dish and the extras store well in the frig... but I used the last box in my pantry recently.
So it was a happy day when I started seeing various recipes using orzo pasta instead of rice. I use orzo in my Greek Lemon Chicken soup instead of rice... here. Orzo also makes a delicious substitute for rotini in lighter pasta salads. Since it can be eaten with a spoon, it is a great way for young kids to eat pasta.
Oh, see that bag of garbanzo beans? We were given lots of boxes of those dried beans (each holding probably ten packages). It seems the food pantries couldn't give them away as people around here don't use them often. I admit even I usually use the canned version for hummus.
So I have been busy researching recipes for the garbanzo (aka: chickpeas) beans. Especially Middle Eastern and Italian recipes where they are used a great deal. Oh, we kept a couple boxes and gave a couple to our church's food pantry as a lot of students are from countries that use them. One box is waiting a chance for me to meet with my friend, Linda, who can use a case. Her family is also adding more plant based recipes to their diet.
All this to say that there are many inexpensive ways to add and stock protein in the pantry. Far more than what is shown above but it was ten degrees outside (and thus not much more in my garage) when I quickly pulled items off the shelf to show you!
I broke my own rule of not stocking up on anything I have never tried but hey... how can you go wrong with pumpkin spice?
I don't stock up on candy, anymore, with just a couple exceptions should the budget permit. I purchase candy either colored red (as in M&Ms) or wrapped in red (Hershey's kisses as an example). Much like purchasing paper plates and napkins in red after a holiday, they can be used for Christmas, Valentine's Day and any of the patriotic holidays. :)
Of course there are lots and lots of items often available after Christmas should one have the space and budget.
Not too long ago I went into Target for a couple items I can best purchase there. I decided to peruse the end aisles where they have clearance items and came across these extra large containers of Seventh Generation dish washing liquid. While the clearance cost was not huge, it was enough to purchase two of them.
Then I noticed just around the corner at the end of the long aisle, there were dozens of bottles of Mrs. Meyer's dish soap in a couple new-to-me seasonal scents. I didn't care for one of them but the other... this Radish scent... was lovely. And they were on clearance for $1.99 each. I bought five.
If you read any of the "How I Stock Up" series, I wrote there how I will use a significant part of my grocery budget for stock up if I find a clearance sale. That is exactly what happened here. I used a precious $25.00 for only dish washing liquid but I am now stocked for 4 to 6 months since I had a couple regular size bottles of the Seventh Generation on my shelf.
Believe me, this was a "God thing". I had no plans on looking any further at Target that day than to see if they had blueberry Bonne Maman and my husband's favorite Amy's soup. But He knew and drew me to the aisle where I could stock up on organic or "pure" dish washing soap in the loveliest of scents.
For instance, I only use Splenda in my coffee and tea (hot or iced). But even then using the little packets can add up. Well, a few years ago I found that I actually like the granulated Splenda better than the packets. I don't know if there is a difference or it is my imagination but the granulated seems to be less overpoweringly sweet.
Then there is the price. When I recently purchased the above bag, it was $5.99 and will last me four to six months. I checked and the smallest box of packets was $6.99 and they would last two to three weeks. So in this case buying in bulk is a significant savings.
I should say as an aside... I keep all the extra Splenda packets I get when purchasing "coffee to go" at drive thru windows. I have a rooster mug on my microwave oven that holds them. Recently when I ran out of the granulated Splenda, they came in very handy to sweeten my morning coffee!
Some items I purchase in bulk because they would be far too expensive otherwise... like wheat. Others I buy in bulk because they are more difficult to find in my area... like French lentils. Then there are the spices I purchase in bulk for far less money... like the sumac from the Asian grocery store.
I do hope this show-and-tell sparks your own ideas about how to deepen the pantry on a budget. Remembering it goes back to this being a Pantry Lifestyle (always using what is in the pantry) as opposed to stocking for only an emergency.
Okay... so I do keep some cans of Spam on my pantry shelves. But I like Spam. Even though my husband despises even the aroma of it cooking. ;)
- I thought this "rant" about needing to be prepared for an emergency by a Pennsylvania news reporter sounded like something I (blush) would do... here.
- Here is my friend Deanna's blog post about that same storm... here.
- This article on setting up a deep pantry area is one I've shared before but is worth repeating... here.