We have been living with my in-laws for almost 3 years now... and soon will be moving to our own place. I'm looking for tips/ideas about stocking a new pantry... I am Celiac and would like to totally outlaw gluten (DH is ok with that except for his beer, DD is too little/eats my gluten free stuff too). I also want to try to go totally without refined sugar. I am interested in TF and organic, but I'm a newbie in those areas. I guess I am looking for tips about what staples to try to get organic, what isn't as necessary, what oils/sweetners/basics, what things you would avoid... also any tips about containers/storage? Go all glass?
If you could start a new pantry (on a normal budget, not *dream* pantry), what would you do?
I really want to take this opportunity to better our diet... I find living here and not always being able to control what is around and what is being cooked... well sometimes things you didn't intend to eat get eaten!
I would go with as much glass as possible. That might just mean a few cases of mason jars and some one-piece lids. Probably the cheapest option. Mason jars are a great tool to have around the house, for everything from dry goods storage to fermenting, to storing leftovers.
As a celiac, you probably need to avoid bulk bins, for anyone else that would be a prime money-saving technique though.
A visit to a store with a large bulk selection though might not be a bad idea - a fact-finding mission, so to speak. Make a list of the foods you use. This is the main place where people run into trouble - stocking up on foods they don't actually use. If you cook mostly navy beans, but buy 4 or 5 different kinds of beans to "stock up", then most of them are going to get too old before you wind up using them.
I wouldn't do one big "stock up" shopping trip. I'd break it up over time. If budget is an issue, allot a weekly/monthly amount for "stocking up", and buy it as you need it (buying extra as you go).
So if this week the meal plan includes brown rice, quinoa, french lentils and walnuts, then I'd buy 3-5 lbs of each this week. Next week it might be rice flour, tapioca starch, black beans and olives. Buy what you need for the week, and at least the same amount again, if not 2-3x the amount (depending on the item). For dry goods I typically buy the largest pkg available - for some things that might be 5 lbs. For some things it might be 1, and then I'll buy 3 of them. For canned/jarred goods, if I need 1, I'll buy 3. If I need 2, I'll buy 4.
This is a good checklist for stocking a TF pantry. Obviously disregard the gluten-containing items. http://nourishedkitchen.com/traditional-foods-pantry/
I also second glass and mason jars. I freeze stuff in glass, but do not put liquids into glass then freeze as the glass will break (unless it's specifically made for that.) I freeze liquids in sterilite brand (BPA free) ice cube trays then transfer to freezer containers. I reuse glass almond and peanut butter jars. They have lovely wide mouths. My kitchen is almost completely glass (get tempered glass plates, etc.,) stainless steel, and wood.
Here is good info on oils: http://theconsciouslife.com/omega-3-6-9-ratio-cooking-oils.htm
I mainly use avocado oil for cooking. I'm experimenting with macadamia oil for baking. So far I love it but will know for sure when I make frosting this weekend. The only other oils I use on a limited basis for cooking is coconut oil and olive oil. This is the avocado oil I buy. It's in glass, plastic is $5 cheaper. http://www.amazon.com/Massimo-Gusto-Virgin-Avocado-Bottles/dp/B00551COSU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1331184495&sr=8-2
We are gluten free. What you keep will be based on what you like to cook and eat. Here is a list of what we keep.
Homemade vegetable broth
Homemade sauces in ice cube size cubes
Homemade gravy in ice cube size cubes
Homemade soups (curried carrot and creamy broccoli) in ice cube size cubes
Homemade mung bean tortillas
Homemade almond flour bread
Homecooked beans--black, great northern
Cooked pasta and brown rice
Brown Rice Flour
Baking powder (aluminum free)
Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce, though will be experimenting with coconut aminos)
Sesame oil (should probably put in fridge.)
Coconut oil (though don't use it too much)
Dry Mung beans
Dry black beans
Dry great northern beans
Honey, raw, local
Honey, store bought for baking
Coconut palm sugar
Agave Syrup (though don't use often)
Flaxseed (to grind fresh, sometimes put in fridge)
Trader Joe's beet sugar sweetened dark chocolate
Rice Dream (buy it by the case cheap at Costco)
Tinkyada pasta (buy it by the case for 10% off at Whole foods. Especially when on sale.)
Trader Joe’s corn pasta
Coconut milk, light for cooking
Salsa (for husband and son.)
Salsa Verde (for daughter.)
Yellow and red potatoes
Coconut milk, regular. (For making ice cream or whipped coconut cream)
Jelly (all fruit. Three different flavors.)
Eggs (from our chickens)
Red wine vinegar
Almond Milk (without cane sugar or carageenan. Whole foods brand is organic, Silk brand can be bought at mainstream stores. In store fridge section.)
Bananas. (We often go through 4 pounds a day)
I'm sure there's more. I just can't think of it right now.
SundayCrepes, thanks for the ideas! Cristeen, I really like your idea to stock up over several weeks... guess I have some strategic meal planning to do!!
These are my "must have" basics (I consider pantry things that I can keep on the counter or a cupboard):
sunbutter (or whatever nut butter you can use)
brown rice/sorghum/tapioca/almond flours
real salt/baking soda/baking powder/ karaya gum (or guar or whatever)
As others said, use as much glass as you can. Also, check amazon.com for some of your pantry items. They have some great prices and with subscribe and save you get free shipping plus 15% off. You can cancel or change your sub at anytime.
ETA: I typically buy dried beans/lentils and cook them then freeze. It saves energy and is easier for me to soak and cook in one big batch than trying to remember I need to soak them each time they are part of a meal.
I cook my beans then drain them then put them on a wax-paper covered cookie sheet. I let them dry then freeze on the sheet. Then I put into mason jars for freezing. This way you only need to thaw however many a recipe calls for.
Also, where we live fresh tomatoes aren't very tasty so I recently bought Bionaturae brand strained tomatoes and paste. Jars and lids are BPA free. So far they've tasted good in recipes.
That is a great idea about cooking and freezing dried beans! They don't get mushy or weird after freezing though?
The jars are all glass that I collected from garage sales or thrift stores. The larger gallon-sized jars are pickle jars that I got free from a church picnic. They would have been thrown away, but I rescued them, brought them home, and they make great storage containers in my pantry. So, the jars didn't cost very much. Mason jars are also good, both the wide mouth quarts, and the half gallon size.
I have a list of all the foods in my pantry as a shopping list in my free ebook on Kitchen and Pantry Makeovers on my website. Labels can be printed on label paper, which is what I did, but now there are really cool chalkboard labels at Staples with erasable markers you can use to write on the labels. The labels in my eBook are the ones I used.
I buy mostly organic food, but if you look at the Environmental Working Groups list of the least sprayed produce, you can save money and buy some non-organic foods.
I hope this helps!
Becky Mauldin, N.D.
Becky, it's beautiful! Thanks for the links. I need to start collecting glass!!!