To get started with The Pantry Principle Project I’d suggest picking something from the list that you currently buy that is stored at room temperature. For instance, you could start with dried beans. You already buy a cup or two from the bulk bins at the food store. Try buying a couple of pounds and storing it in an airtight container. To expand on this, buy a few more containers and repeat with a different kind of bean. Next you could add rice to the mix. And a few extra cans of tomato in the cart. This should help you save some out of the weekly grocery budget. During this time cook out of your pantry. You probably already have a number of things in there that are not on your raw ingredient list, maybe not on your real food list, but your family is familiar with them. You can help get them used to the change by serving the old standbys mixed with new items made from your new pantry.
Shopping to replenish a real food pantry is different and really a whole lot simpler than recipe shopping. Begin by making a list of the raw food items you will need to make the recipes you make very regularly. The idea is that it only contains the most basic ingredients … not anything that you would make and then stock as an ingredient. Guaranteed it’ll be a short one! It should resemble your Great-Grandma’s shopping list at the general store. Below I’ve got mine. I think it will cover our Mrs Dull’s “Southern Cooking” recipe experiments too. [Read more…]
Last week we talked about how to save lots of time cooking for your family by starting and maintaining a pantry. If you haven’t ever approached shopping in this way before you’ll certainly be wondering where to start. A few things are obviously missing from your household setup, most likely.
Let’s say you are starting completely from scratch as I did many, many years ago. I had just a tiny apartment kitchen, a few pans scavenged from my Mom’s rejects, and some old tupperware. I had little to no extra money. My kitchen lacked pantry space, storage containers and freezer space. What to do, what to do? Start small with baby steps. Begin by adding inexpensive additions in small steps. For instance, storage containers. It’s pretty cheap to buy glass canning jars for kitchen storage. Walmart, hardware stores, and often your local grocery store has them at about $7 a case for quart jars. [Read more…]
Ok, so you’ve decided to improve your diet. Maybe you’d like to lose weight, or as you’ve learned more about the source of your food you’ve decided to improve the quality of what you buy. Or maybe you, one of your children, or your husband is suffering from a chronic health problem and you’ve decided that it’s likely your diet is contributing. Whatever your motivation, there is always big questions about how to actually go about making a change, from a practical point of view. You have very little time as it is, and how are you going to add on the extra effort to:
- Figure out what to buy
- Figure out where to buy it affordably
- Figure out how to make it so your family will eat it
I’m going to tell you my secret for saving time. I’ve been doing this since I first heard of the idea from The Complete Tightwad Gazette back in the mid-nineties. I was an original subscriber to Amy’s Dacyczyn’s ( a.k.a. The Frugal Zealot ) newsletter and eagerly awaited my issue in the mail with many hints and general principles for saving money. This one has to be my favorite. It not only saves money but it save gobs of time and allows you complete creativity in the kitchen. This tip will help you save lots of money at a supermarket, which is how I’ve been doing it for years, but it becomes vitally necessary if you are shopping locally for the most nutrient dense food you can get. Why? Because local food shows up in big bunches. It comes when the crop is ready to pick or when the cow is ready to be processed. You can buy in small quantities at a farmers market, for example, but this will be the more expensive way to go. It’s much more affordable to form relationships with the farmers in your area and arrange to buy when things are ready. Better for you, better for the farmer.
So what is the Pantry Principle?
Basically, you fill up your pantry and freezer with the most nutrient dense food you can get your hands on when it becomes available. All buying is then done with the idea of replenishing your pantry and not with particular meals in mind. By having a full pantry you don’t need to spend precious time planning meals ahead. You can use up any leftovers as they build up, saving money. You have the ability to walk into the kitchen and say “What should I make?” and be prepared to make most anything that you might usually make. This will save you time by:
- Greatly reducing trips to store. This saves a lot more time than you might think at first.
- Having lots of ingredients on hand makes it easy to make things in batches which you can then freeze for times when your schedule is crazy.
In this economy too, there are other benefits. In the event of job loss you have a pantry of food to rely on. Your grandparents would keep a supply of staples on hand to help protect the family from the unexpected.
In this series we’ll talk about:
- Part 1 – How to save gobs of time cooking for your family.
- Part 2 – What you’ll need to get started: your initial investment and where to find space.
- Part 3 – What you’ll need for the raw ingredients for the recipes on this site.
- Part 4 – How to get the ball rolling within the budget you have to work with.
- Part 5 – How to maintain your pantry.
So, let’s get started!