I never had a budget for groceries, I only had bills to pay. Once the bills were paid I would take what was left for groceries. There was usually nothing left and also a few bills not paid.. So how did we eat? The pantry and something we have always called the storage. Now I am not talking long term storage like Wheat, I am talking about everyday meal things. Items you would need to throw together a fast meal for a family.
I think the first thing one needs if you want to build a working pantry for yourself/ family is a list of meals you make on a regular basis. Think about what your family likes. Think about meals that you have cooked in the past month. Jot those down and determine what is needed for each of those meals.
Pantries consist of different sections.
1. staples or baking needs
2. canned goods, jarred items, boxed items, dry goods
3. fresh staples that keep well unrefrigerated
4. fridge items
5. freezer items
6. paper/personal items
Each of these sections plays an important part in building a working pantry.
1. Under staples and baking needs would be:
flour, sugar,soda,salt,baking powder, cocoa,cinnamon, pepper, brown and powdered sugar, molasses, corn syrup, corn starch, cooking oil, shortening, corn meal, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
2. Canned food, jarred items, boxed items, dry goods
Anything your family uses from a can, a box,or a jar goes here.Canned soups, vegetable, beans, meats,fruits,boxed mixes, cake mixes ,rice a roni, again what your family eats. Jarred or bottled items such as condiments, pickles, jams, peanut butter. Dried beans,legumes, rice, cereals. Lots and lots of pasta.
|Canned goods that will be added to my pantry|
3. Fresh staples unrefrigerated
Potatoes, onions,some fruits are my main items that are used often and when used regularly do not
spoil. Hardy garden vegetable like squash also store well.
carrots, celery, salsa, sour cream, butter, margarine, milk, juice, cheeses condiments used in cooking. Fresh vegetables and fruits.
5. freezer items
meats,breads, baked goods, vegetables, baked goods, meals made ahead.
6. paper/personal items
toilet paper, paper towels, bags paper /plastic, tinfoil, wax paper, parchment paper,napkins, shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, dish soap, personal soap, feminine needs, razors, dental hygiene needs.
Once you get a working pantry established you should have most of the ingredients you need to make any meal you want. This will take time. Most people don't have the money to go out and stock a full pantry. But you can slowly build one up a few items at a time.
Last week canned goods such as beans (all kinds) canned corn and green beans, tomato/chicken noodle soup were on sale at what I would say is the lowest they will go. So I ordered several cases of things we will eat this next year. My grocery budget for the week was $81.49 all spent stocking up canned goods, I also bought milk, and peanut butter. This was more than I usually spend at one time, but it was a stock up shop I won't need to go to the grocery store again until I run out of milk or (diet coke) :)
Here is how the pantry principle works to your advantage.
Mrs. Gunderson needs to feed her family dinner. She doesn't have any ideas or much on hand so she runs to the local store. Here she buys a lb. of ground beef, spaghetti noodles, a jar of sauce, a loaf of french bread, a bag of salad greens, a small jar of Parmesan cheese and prays there is still some dressing at home. Now this is all based on prices of house brands not on sale. She doesn't have time to shop, it is 5 o'clock and her family is home and hungry.
ground beef $3.99
cheese $ 2.99 (will have left overs)
She gets home and slaps this together only to realize one jar of sauce is not enough, but she makes do. Total spent for this meal with tax, over $15.00 and there was not enough sauce.
Mrs. Gustafson needs to feed her family dinner. She pulls a lb. of burger out of the freezer, grabs an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a can of tomato paste, a can of chopped tomatoes, noodles, spices,cheese, a head of romaine lettuce a carrot and what ever veggies she has in the fridge to doll up the salad. If she has time she can earlier in the day set out a bread sponge for two huge loaves of french bread, if she doesn't she can pull a loaf or a 1/2 loaf out of the freezer.
While the hamburger is thawing in the micro wave, she dices the onion and minces the garlic, and blooms them in a pan with a couple of teaspoons of oil, buy the time the burger is thawed, she has started a pot of water well salted to boil. She adds the burger browns it and when the water is boiling, she adds the noodle to the pot. Then as she is bringing the pasta back to a boil she adds the can of tomato paste to her onions, and burger, she browns the paste, adds the appropriate amount of water and the can of tomatoes and spices to taste. Her bread is in the oven or she has sawed the loaf she pulled out of the freezer in 1/2 and is thawing it in the micro wave. She chops up some romaine, peels and slices a carrot, adds a few cucumber bits and a few pieces of fresh tomato. Dinner is served.
ground beef $.99 bought on sale as she happened buy the meat counter
noodles $.50 bought on a loss leader sale
sauce paste $.39 " " "
tomatoes $.50 " " "
lettuce $.50 bought in a three pack for $2.99 she uses 1/2 a head
carrot/veg $.25 this is a high estimate
bread $.50 home made but even if she bought a loaf the meal would still be only $6.13
Parmesan $.50 purchased on sale with a coupon in a large container.
Cost of meal $4.13 and there was plenty of sauce. If she was really organized and smart she would bake two large loaves of french bread and freeze one. She would also quadruple the sauce and freeze ahead for 3 other meals. If she canned her own tomatoes and grew her own lettuce she could save even more at certain times of the year.
I can assure you that in the time it took Mrs. Gunderson to drive to the store, park, run through said store,stand in line at the check out, drive home and open that jar of sauce Mrs. Gustafson will be sitting down with her family.
If you want to save money and stretch your budget you must have a pantry.
Mom's awake and I am off to the races.
Have a great and productive day staying positive while in the negative.