One thing I love to do is to keep my pantry loaded with the staples I need to keep the family fed, and to be able to do that without HAVING to go to the store. That is when having a well-stocked pantry is essential. We live out in the country 15 minutes from the grocery store. That's not too terribly far, but factor in the $4.19/gallon gas and a trip to the store to grab a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk adds $7-$8 to the price!
We try to keep on hand a lot of the staples and a variety of other foods so if we can't make it to the store for a week or two it's not the end of the world.
1. Keep track of prices: Buying in bulk is one way we try to keep the cost down and our shelves well-stocked. One of the best things grocery stores have done in the last decade is to put a "per unit" price on the shelf labels of foods. On this label for peanut butter you see a per ounce price in the orange box. If you multiply it by the number of ounces it should come out to the total price. If you keep an eye on the per unit price you can compare brands and sizes of the products. My kids have gotten good at this, too, and usually remember to compare the prices. And when it comes to groceries, bigger is not always better.
2. Make bigger batches: When it comes to things like beans, grains, and anything dried I try to buy the largest amount I can fit in the budget. That way I can keep enough on hand and cook ahead if I want. Making large batches of beans or bread frees up time later on that can be spent blogging, eating chocolate, or reading a book. Just sayin'.
3. Eat in season: If that means buying pears for 29 cents a pound and eating the heck out of them, then freezing and/or canning the rest, you will have nutritious and tasty food now and later.
4. Plan ahead: When I have leftovers from one meal that are not enough for a second meal (we have 6 people in our family) I will try to plan a meal to use up the leftovers, and if I have time I will package it all together. Which brings me to my next tip.
5. Don't let anything go to waste! If you think that your family will not finish that 20 pound bag of carrots before they start growing hair then prep and freeze a few quart sized bags. See the chicken stock below? Every time I roast a chicken I make homemade LOW-FAT chicken stock with the bones. I just put it in a big stock pot and cover with water, then I might add some celery, onion, and carrots. Don't chop up any good ones, just use the scraps because you'll strain them out later and you just want the flavor. When you're done boiling for an hour or so, drain through a colander in a large bowl to get all of the bones, meat that is left on the bones, and veggies out. Refrigerate overnight and remove the fat that settles on the top. Then freeze in bags or containers.
6. Organize your shelves so you know what you have: Put like items together. Pretty self-explanatory, but when you're looking for something that you just KNOW you have but can't find it because it got put away in the wrong cupboard it's frustration CITY!
Well, there are still some more things to cover, so I'll make this To Be Continued. Tune in tomorrow for the second part of buying in bulk and stocking the pantry. I'm thinking there might be a giveaway involved!
Want to see the rest of the posts in my 31 Days of Preparing Properly series? Click here.
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