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The Well Stocked Kitchen

October 21, 2010

If you keep your kitchen stocked with items that you use on a regular basis, you won’t need to run to the store for just one item, or be in the position of deciding whom to call for take out. For all of the meals that I cook on a regular basis, I keep the basic ingredients on hand. I tend to cook fairly simple meals so it works out well for me, and our budget.

If you write down the meals that you cook frequently, or can tick them off in your head, you should be able to come up with a list of your “staples.” Then watch for these to go on sale and stock up. These sales generally occur every six weeks but are often seasonal, such as BBQ items in the summer. This will allow you to build up your pantry such that you may be able to stretch the frequency you shop at into longer periods.

When we do our (weekly or bi-weekly) grocery shopping at the “Farmer’s Market” which is an international grocery store nearby, I mainly purchase fruits and vegetables. I substitute spaghetti squash for pasta, so you won’t see pasta below.  I do purchase some items at Costco that are cheaper there and over time have come out ahead by limiting what I purchase there, knowing which items are better deals.

Once you have identified your staples list, you can keep a price book so that you can watch for the lowest price of your staples in your  grocery store’s sale cycle.  A price book, however you wish to keep it, either in a small notebook or an Excel spreadsheet, simply tracks what the lowest price is that you have found for a particular staple and where you found it.  Now you will have a benchmark price for future purchases and won’t overspend on maintaining your well stocked kitchen.

Items I always have on hand:

Fridge:
Medium cheddar slices
Shredded sharp cheddar
Shredded Parmesan
Milk (fresh)
Plain yogurt
Butter
2 dozen eggs
Peanut butter
Pecans
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Jam
Salsa

Cupboard:
Molasses
Chicken broth
Brown rice
Brown rice bread crumbs
Saffron rice
Pepperidge Farm Stuffing (for casserole topping)
Cake flour
Palm shortening
Olive oil
Canola oil
Vinegar (balsamic, cider, white)
Honey
White, brown, and powdered  sugar
Coffee (and Coffee Mate for the spouse)
Spices (too prolific to list)
Dried fruits: raisins, dates, unsweetened coconut, mango
Crackers
Milk (dry, evaporated)
Tinned salmon and sardines
Diced tomatoes
Tomato paste
Dried beans: kidney, chickpeas, black, great northern
Tinned refried beans
Tortillas

Frozen:
(seasonal) figs, strawberries, blueberries
Shredded mozzarella
Corn flour and corn grits
Steel cut oats
Thick rolled oats
Whole wheat flour (bread and pastry)
All purpose flour
3-5 loaves of bread (purchased at the Flowers’ Outlet on $1.00 loaf day)
Mixed veggies
Chicken breasts
Ground beef

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