Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pantry Stocking on a Budget

Went to the grocery store last week and after seeing the price
increases, even at Walmart, was inspired to revisit an old topic.
frugality in the pantry. When we started working at lowering our food
costs in our home, the greatest boon for our family was to stop buying
packaged or convenience food items. Cooking from scratch has always
been far cheaper than buying the prepackaged or frozen versions. Most
times, the homemade versions are more flavorful and healthier for your
family also.

One example of the homemade being cheaper is tomato soup. I buy 3 large
cans of tomato juice and use other ingredients that I always have on
hand to make a batch of soup which provides us with 11 pints of soup.
The recipe is a simple, basic one that our family loves. The soup is
thick enough that you could thin it just like the small cans of
condensed soup from the store. The cost of making the soup yourself is
just under half the cost of the equivalent amount of the small cans from
the store. I will be posting recipes later when I can get to the library.

Doing a search online, you can find sites with recipes for dry mixes.
Many of the convenience packages foods at the store can be made from
home. You don't always need to search online though. Why not take an
afternoon and mix the dry ingredients from your favorite cake recipe
into a jar? Label with the cake name, remaining ingredients to be
added, and the baking instructions. Just like that, you now have a
packaged cake mix in your pantry! Do the same with brownies, cookies,
muffins, and other family favorites. This same technique can be used to
make homemade versions of the boxed hamburger meals, rice pilaf mixes,
and even your favorite seasonings mixes like Taco Seasoning.

One of my beloved's favorite breakfasts on the truck is the muesli
mixture we put together. For a single serving I place 1/2 cup of rolled
oats into a sandwich bag. He then adds brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped
pecans, slivered almonds, or raisins to each baggie to his own
preference. He cooks the mixture with water in a little cooker on the
truck. Using the rolled oats makes a hearty breakfast that only takes a
few minutes longer to cook. If you wanted a faster version just
substitute the quick cooking oats. I make pancakes from a recipe. This
can also be prepackaged by putting the dry ingredients in a jar &
labeling it.

By looking at your recipes for your grocery list, you can save further
when buying the basics. Instead of buying small bags of flour, for
example, I buy the largest sized bag. I purchase all of my herbs,
spices, and sea salt at a health food store from their bulk bins. Sea
salt purchased that way only costs $1.20 for a quart jar full. I am
able to buy a 1 cup measurement of most herbs for under 50 cents each.
When shopping, I have a master list of the most often used ingredients.
I tally how much I need of each, using a monthly menu plan as my guide.
By taking the extra time to prepare the dinner menu for the month, I am
easily able to stay on a tight budget.

The last thing that I do is to shop around for the best deals. I know
what stores I can go to to get the lowest prices. Sometimes, it isn't
worth driving out of my way to get one or two things. I do however make
the extra effort if the savings is substantial. It all requires
planning and organization. If the savings is worth it to you and your
family, you may want to consider giving it a try.