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Wed Nov 13, 2019, 12:57 PM

20 ingredients for a frugal pantry


20 ingredients for a frugal pantry
Katherine Martinko, November 13, 2019

Nothing exotic here, but it's all practical, versatile, and nutritious.

If you want to save money on food, there are a few things you need to know. First, you have to start making everything from scratch. No more eating out, because that's where costs can really spiral out of control. To ensure this, it's best to have a meal plan and a well-stocked pantry, so you're not tempted to succumb to takeout as soon as things get hard.

This leads to my second point, which is to stock your pantry in a particular way. Just having loads of food in it doesn't guarantee cost savings or even delicious meals. You need to have the right ingredients, and if your primary goal is to save money, these have to be frugal ingredients.
Not all ingredients are created equal! I have gone into the same grocery store and spent $300 on a week's worth of food for five people, while other weeks I've kept it under $150. It depends entirely on what you choose, and some ingredients give you a lot more bang for your buck than others. Now, based on my personal experience, here's what I think you should keep in your pantry if your goal is to save money.

1. Basmati rice: A cheap, filling side dish or main that cooks quickly and keeps for a few days. It's great fried with veggies after being chilled.

2. Sweet potatoes: Hearty carbs that are delicious roasted and eaten as leftovers for lunch.

3. Lentils and/or chickpeas: Soup, stew, chili, or salad, a good filler in ground meat dishes, can handle a range of spices.

4. Black beans: Great protein source, good in Mexican food, chili, soup, or as a base for eggs.

5. Frozen fruit: Use in smoothies, desserts, stir into oatmeal or baked goods.

6. Fresh spinach: A sturdy green that keeps for a long time in the fridge, it's great in salads, stirred into soups or curries, blended into smoothies.

7. Cheese: Expensive at regular prices, but cheaper than meat, and you can often find it on sale and freeze. Buy 1-lb blocks of Cheddar and mozzarella, and use it to top burritos, pizzas, eggs, and more. Avoid the expensive, 'fancy' cheeses.


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Reply 20 ingredients for a frugal pantry (Original post)
NeoGreen Nov 13 OP
True Blue American Nov 13 #1
underpants Nov 13 #2
procon Nov 13 #3
enough Nov 13 #4
pengillian101 Nov 13 #6
Backseat Driver Nov 13 #5

Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Wed Nov 13, 2019, 01:02 PM

1. I just made a big pot of Vegetable soup

With ingredients from my pantry and fridge. Very inexpensive..

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Wed Nov 13, 2019, 01:04 PM

2. 👀

Reading later

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Wed Nov 13, 2019, 01:44 PM

3. Most of my homemade soups cost me almost nothing.

Almost free soup is something I learned from my grandma. It starts by saving most of your kitchen "waste" and throwing it in your soup bag in the freezer.

Save all the veg and fruit peelings, the ends and cores, leaves, stems, everything. Also save the bits of left over cooked veggies, the limp veggies, and the overripe fruits no one will eat. All this so called waste will form the base of a hearty soup, used either alone for veg stock, or cooked with the meat scraps.

Also collect raw meat scraps in a separate freezer bag with all the unwanted bits and trimmings, bones, juices, fat, gristle, and marrow. If your family are big meat eaters you can separate the meat scraps by animal, otherwise toss everything in together for a deeply flavored, rich tasting stock for you next soup or stew base.

Absolutely save poultry carcasses, ham bones and large bones from roasts, ribs or legs. These will cook down, about 3 hours braising in a Dutch oven or 50 minutes in a pressure cooker. Strain off all the solid pieces, all the goodness has been rendered into the liquid so they can be trashed now. The end results should be a rich, concentrated stock with that desired jelly like consistency for a delicious soup.

Portion out the stock in 3-4 cups which should be enough to start a large pot of soup.

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Wed Nov 13, 2019, 02:49 PM

4. Good list, missing one must-have: garlic.

They do mention curry paste, which would have garlic and ginger, but to me garlic is as basic as onions (almost).

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Response to enough (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 13, 2019, 05:43 PM

6. I agree about must-have garlic!

At the farmers market this summer, I bought some sliced and dehydrated garlic cloves. Soooo good and easy to add to soups and stews that I've been making lately.

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Wed Nov 13, 2019, 03:22 PM

5. 16/20 here on the shelf right now...the other 4 been cooked already this month, LOL!

The sweet potatos, spinach, yogurt, and diced tomatos are gone. My adds or exchanges for the 20 in the article might look like this:

The shopping lists includes things like bacon; canned corn beef hash or pink salmon; avocados; lemon and/or orange, onions and garlic, fresh cabbage or canned sauerkraut and romaine lettuce, 5 lb bag of carrots, celery; diced fireroasted tomatos; biscuit mix, homemade or not; yeast; brown sugar; vinegars of your choice; maple syrup; mayo, (gotta be Hellman's, sorry); baking powder, soda, peanut butter, raisins and cocoa, coffee, green tea 100 bag ct, bottle of lemon juice (I make my own single serving dinner beverage weekly in recycled glass bottles from saved purchased bottled ice tea. Yay! No plastic bottles and way less than soda company's stuff.

With seasonal fresh fruits, usually on sale at peak quality, berries, are my pic, or frozen ones, if you can; Cutie oranges, apples, or melons go in the basket too sometimes, and a few inexpensive types of meat like sausages, bulk or not, a pork butt or chuck roast, ground meat, a rotisserie chicken, a single thick steak on sale, a bag of frozen chicken breasts and or thighs: you can stretch this staple pantry for a month of 2-4 person meals - soups, meatless days, casseroles w/pasta and some form of green or yellow veggies. I also go to the farm deli for cold cuts - their special, a meat and a cheese sliced as needed, are $3.99 lb not the usual $6 - $9 per lb. In a pinch, I've stashed some sardines in sauce and shelf-stable tuna, but I admit, I've got to be desperate. Oh yeah, I also go through 1 lb of each salted and unsalted butter. I splurge on plant-based milk (cashew); half and half; chocolate chips.

Pledge to use all leftovers as lunches or transformed the very next day. Feeling slammed: Aldi's and Sam's each has a great take home supreme pizza so you get some veggies, LOL!

Note: you won't need to purchase everything every time you shop weekly or even monthly. Just plan ahead if you'll be short for something you want to cook.

I've got the usual small cooking appliances from a previous life. Mixer, blender, food processor, bread machine, waffle maker, griddle, slow cooker, and ice cream maker. Electric range, fridge, and a 7 cu ft chest freezer in the garage.

From my very small north 40 inch garden - Roma tomatoes sauced and freezer cuke pickles; frozen green beans in the freezer. Also, I got one butternut and two acorn squashes from this year's experiment; in previous years, I've grown garden salad greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, zukes, and peas but got an inadequate yield to keep planting these. The community garden is blocks away without any shade or benches for resting and costs $35 for use in summer of a large plot that would still need soil amendments and probably insecticides, so I just use my little one out next to the patio.

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