Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Stocking The Pantry & Food Strategy

Ever since I did the post on having my Aunt to lunch, Jacquie has been wanting me to do a post on stocking the pantry. If you've ever seen my fridge before grocery day that may make you laugh as Deanna has commented on more than one occasion how it looks like I'm waiting for the food basket from social services.

The truth is we eat very well over here. Better than a lot pf people I know, I suspect. We have a nice cooked meal most evenings that consists of a protein and fresh vegetables. We use recipes. We cook from scratch. We plan our meals in advance (This is the single most important thing you can do to maximizer your food budget!)

I'll start by saying my grocery budget is $110 per week Some people may think this is high, some people may think this is low. (includes all non-grocery items at the store as well). I use cash. In an envelope. If I don't spend all the cash one week I leave it in the envelope for the next week. I don't buy Starbucks with it.

I can't tell you what you need in your pantry. Only you can tell you what you need. I do have a list on the fridge and when I run out of something like flour or sugar or onions or eggs
I buy it the very next week. I don't wait until I need to use it to pick those things up. If you have some flour, sugar and eggs I bet you can whip up some kind of muffin if you need to.

I got 2 Wegmans gift cards for Christmas. I only buy meat with them. I bring them along and when meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish. lamb) is on sale I buy it with the card. When those run out I will buy most of the meat at the small grocery store by my house rather than Wegman's, as it is much cheaper there. Yesterday I bought a very nice large spiral cut ham that was on sale for $15. We will have a dinner with that and then I will freeze it to be used in omelets, sandwiches, quiches and of course, use the bone for split pea soup.

When something is on sale I stock up and store whichever it way is practical. I have a small square chest freezer that is about 3 feet tall and in it I currently have 2 turkeys, packages of feta and spinach sausage, frozen blueberries from the summer, shredded zucchini, applesauce, diced apples, pureed squash, frozen banana chunks for smoothies, on sale chicken wings, a bag of frozen talapia and a bunch of other cuts of meat. A lot of times we plan our meals based on what is in the freezer and then I buy sale meat that week and put it in the freezer until the next week. I'm not planning meals based on that week's grocery flier.

Because I buy meat like this, I tend to get the lowest price for the protein part of the meal that I can. That means I have money left over to buy fresh fruits and veggies. I use frozen peas and sometimes broccoli but most of the rest of the veggies are fresh. I know what I need and I don't buy more than I need.

Of course, there are things I buy every week like eggs, frozen peas, plain yogurt, milk.

We don't waste food. I may make 12 or 24 muffins at a time. I will then freeze them in packages of 6 so they don't go bad and so we don't have to eat them for 5 days at a time. I just pull them out when I need them.

We eat leftovers for lunch the next day (we specifically make more dinner than we eat). I don't buy separate "lunch" foods. If we have a lot of leftovers from a meal I will make up a lunch size portion and put it in the freezer so that my husband can just grab it on a day when there are no leftovers from the meal the night before.

We hardly EVER eat out and I mean ever.
We don't drink soda.
We don't usually buy snack food or cookies.
Snacks are fruits and veggies, cheerios, cookies or muffins that I make myself, raisins, and the occasional goldfish and nuts.
Breakfast and lunch are cheap things (in price, not quality.)Perhaps I will soon do a post on cheap and fast breakfast and lunch ideas.)

What do you do to stock you pantry and maxamize your food budget!


Teamcarbone said...

Great ideas about the meat shopping. I really need to do the meal planning thing, I know it would help a lot with keeping my pantry stocked.

Christine said...

I tend to get a little obsessive about buying meat when it is on sale!I can't pass it up if it's a good price. I have a well stocked freezer right now. I'm thinking I may try a "buy no meat" week once a month to catch up with my freezer supply.

The Fine Art of Motherhood said...

This is great -- very inspirational! I know it seems like my pantry is stocked, but we have that "There's still nothing to eat" syndrome in our house. I'd like to try just eating what we have some week -- I'm CERTAIN we wouldn't starve, and we would definitely save money! We got a Wegs gift card from my mother the year that my hubby was laid off and we used the whole thing to stock up on meat and it was great -- we have the freezer in the basement and we really were able to stretch it out so that we saved money on groceries, but also didn't feel like we weren't able to eat well. I try to buy meat in big packs when it's on sale and then break it down into individual meals -- I definitely do that with ground beef, chicken and tilapia. We also hit Herrema's recently and got a couple of roasts at great prices!

Christine said...

I think I got that meat idea from you actually!

I could TOTALLY live off of your pantry/freezer for a week if I bought some milk when it ran out! I think you should try it and see how you do!

Next week will be my no meat buying week. As much as it will pain me not to go to Herremas to scope out deals I think I need to try it out!

Teamcarbone said...

Hey you could go meat shopping for me if you don't think you can go cold turkey! LOL

I love having a good stock of meat in the freezer. I do the same, buy in bulk and then break it down.

By the time shopping day comes along you would have thought someone stole all our food it look so bare.