Friday, November 5, 2010

Stock Your Pantry

Everyone has a different idea of what's healthy and what's not. Also, others may have different nutritional needs than I do. If you have gluten issues, diabetes, or some other allergy your pantry will likely look very different from mine.

When I first started my health journey, I was torn between the world of being healthy and the world of couponing. I am all about saving money. We are an one-income, homeschooling family. I need to save money where ever I can. If I could get $100 worth of groceries for $25 by using coupons I was thrilled. The problem is, most of the foods I was getting with the coupons were not on my list of edibles today. I had to figure out another way to save money. I can occasionally find coupons for some organic veggies, or a $5 off $50 coupon, but for the most part I avoid the grocery store as much as possible. I have a small list of things that I pick up at the grocery store like almond milk, organic butter, peanut butter and fruit spread (not sugary jelly), and a small amount of meat. I do not buy organic meat. I can't. It's just too expensive. I do the best I can with what I have. The rest of my food is bought in bulk from various co-ops and/or online sources.

I get most of my veggies from local co-ops or farmers markets. I also found some great containers and bags that are designed to extend the life of your veggies. Because the co-ops are only once every other week, I need my veggies to last. It has really cut down on the amount of waste.

I buy my grains in big 5-gallon buckets. I grind the whole wheat berries into flour and make all our own bread. I have three different kinds of wheat in my pantry. I have hard red wheat, which makes a bread that tastes like whole wheat bread. It gives it a really good flavor. I have hard white wheat (not the same as white flour). Hard white makes great bread also, but it tastes more like white bread - only more nutritious. The hard white is also great for making things like dinner rolls, hamburger buns, pizza crust, tortillas and more. I also have soft white wheat. Soft white has a lower gluten content than the hard and is better for making things like cakes and cookies.

Yes, I still make cakes and cookies, not to mention things like homemade cinnamon raisin bread. That brings me to the next section of my pantry: sweeteners. I do not buy white processed sugar, anything with corn syrup, or any artificial sweeteners. This is the section that you will want to ignore if you are diabetic. My first choice for sweetening is honey. That is what I use for all my bread, and many baked goods. Honey can get a little pricey though. Thankfully, because of its strong sweetness, you do substitute less honey than the amount of sugar called for in a recipe. Honey works well to replace white sugar in most recipes, but not brown sugar. For that, I use Sucanat, which is a brand name for evaporated cane juice. It is a less processed sugar. I order it in a one gallon bucket. That one bucket lasts me about 6 months. Although it is less processed, it is still sugar and still should be only used in moderation.

What else do I have in one-gallon buckets in my pantry? Rolled oats can be used for many things. We actually do not eat oatmeal for breakfast. I don't like the texture of oatmeal. I do make a baked oatmeal that involves peanut butter and raisins. Check the history. I'm pretty sure I posted about it. It can also be put in the food processor to be made into flour. I have used it to make blueberry muffins that way. I also keep a bucket of organic popcorn. I know popcorn has some issues, but I can't give up all my vices. I figure making organic popcorn on the stove is way better than the microwave variety, so there you go. I keep a bucket, or two, of organic virgin coconut oil. That is the oil I use the majority of the time. There is also a bucket of brown rice. That can be used to stretch so many foods. We make fried rice, beans and rice, rice soup, you get the idea. There is also a bucket of flax seed, a bucket of gluten, and a bucket of raw sunflower seeds. I want to order buckets of beans, but those are a little more expensive so I've just been getting the small bags from the grocery store. Of course two cups of dried beans, once rehydrated, can feed about 20 people.

I also keep my freezer well stocked with frozen fruits and veggies, a small amount of meat, veggie purees, homemade chicken and veggie broths, and sometimes baked goods.

I plan my meals around the fresh veggies that I get. I use the staples from my pantry to make them stretch and feed everyone. Things work much more smoothly when I plan ahead and prepare things ahead of time. I know this, but I still have problems always doing it. When I don't plan ahead, I get into trouble and we don't end up eating as healthfully as we should.

One more tip for money saving, I make many of my own cleaning products. I make laundry soap. I use white vinegar as a fabric softener, window cleaner, and much more. I have even made an attempt at making shampoo. I'm still working the kinks out of that though.


Steph said...

WOW Gidge. You sure have come a long way! You fast-tracked to what take us years to get to as normal homeschooling types and what Ihave still not been able to do. I really need to too. I would love if you would put up with a visit from me and perhaps my two olders to take a "tour" of how you do healthy. Would you let us come peek and learn? I would like my family (not to mention myself!) get on a track to better health too!

Steph said...

Maybe you could also do a more detailed post about meals and centering them around the veggie?

Randi Sue said...

You are amazing!