Author Topic: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?  (Read 11882 times)

MrCash

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Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« on: March 21, 2014, 09:05:58 AM »
Hello all!

I will be getting married in April and I just got a new apartment.  I am essentially starting from scratch when it comes to food and I'm trying to do thing right.  Up to this point, my food buying choices haven't been very healthy (and not very financially savvy either).  I'm not great when it comes to shopping for real food.

How would you stock a pantry if you had to start from scratch (including spices, sauces and condiments)?

4alpacas

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2014, 09:22:28 AM »
I think Budget Bytes has a great post about this http://www.budgetbytes.com/2009/08/stock-your-kitchen/

I'm also a big fan of her blog.  I also bought her recent cookbook for my kindle.  Her recipes have helped me slash our grocery bill by $200/month and cut down on eating out (cut $500/month). 

Jules13

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2014, 09:23:49 AM »
A lot of it depends on what kind of food you make and whether you like dried herbs or fresh.  My pantry/seasonings have built up over time.  I wouldn't buy something just to "stock" a pantry.  I buy it when I need it.  You can also usually find substitutes for things that you don't have and don't want to buy a whole jar of something.  You would just search online what you could use instead.

Just thinking of the things I use the most...coconut oil, grapeseed oil, ground cinnamon, cumin, tumeric, (I also have a generic "curry powder", good sea salts (ground and course), garlic powder, Simply Organic brand "vegetable grilling seasons" (one of my fave seasonings), brown rice, white rice, whole wheat pasta, I always have diced tomatoes on hand (I get a box of 8 organic cans from Costco when I go), black beans (you can do so many things with black beans!), vanilla and baking powder (if you bake). 

Good luck.

mollyjade

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2014, 09:30:11 AM »
Resist stocking your pantry. You'll likely end up buying things you won't actually use. Make foods you would normally eat, and buy the ingredients as you need them. Just expect your grocery expenses to be a bit higher for a few weeks or months as you're starting with nothing.

If you do end up stocking up on a few things (because you're near a Costco or something), be very honest with yourself about what you actually eat. It can be tempting to stock up on the things you think you should be eating (whole grains, superfoods, whatever) or the things you imagine yourself eating (foods that require a lot of prep or seem impressive).

MDM

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2014, 09:47:46 AM »
Congratulations on the upcoming marriage!

You might ask your wedding guests to supply (on paper or electronically, as they prefer) a favorite recipe or 2 or 3.  Go ahead and use the words in your post: "I am essentially starting from scratch when it comes to food and I'm trying to do things right."

Collect the recipes and discuss with your spouse-to-be.  Plan a 3-meal-a-day menu for an upcoming week.  Make your shopping list from that, then both of you go to the store and buy what you will need.  Cook.  Eat.  Repeat as needed. 

In short, I agree with previous posts: buy what you will eat.




MrCash

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2014, 10:01:06 AM »
I think Budget Bytes has a great post about this http://www.budgetbytes.com/2009/08/stock-your-kitchen/

I'm also a big fan of her blog.  I also bought her recent cookbook for my kindle.  Her recipes have helped me slash our grocery bill by $200/month and cut down on eating out (cut $500/month).

Thanks!  This helps a lot!

AJ

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2014, 10:11:35 AM »
Resist stocking your pantry. You'll likely end up buying things you won't actually use. Make foods you would normally eat, and buy the ingredients as you need them. Just expect your grocery expenses to be a bit higher for a few weeks or months as you're starting with nothing.

+1

If I could go back and re-do my first pantry-stocking experience I would just buy what I needed for the week and build it over time. That also let's you stock up on things as they go on sale rather than just buying everything at once (which, admittedly, was really fun, it just wasn't optimal).

kkbmustang

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2014, 10:38:38 AM »
Congratulations on the upcoming marriage!

You might ask your wedding guests to supply (on paper or electronically, as they prefer) a favorite recipe or 2 or 3.  Go ahead and use the words in your post: "I am essentially starting from scratch when it comes to food and I'm trying to do things right."

Collect the recipes and discuss with your spouse-to-be.  Plan a 3-meal-a-day menu for an upcoming week.  Make your shopping list from that, then both of you go to the store and buy what you will need.  Cook.  Eat.  Repeat as needed. 

In short, I agree with previous posts: buy what you will eat.

This is a great idea about the recipes! If someone is throwing you a shower, you could theme it as a stock the kitchen shower. People could bring their recipes and the tools/ingredients to make it. That would be fun.

Otherwise, Costco is great for stocking up, but make sure you have the space for whatever you buy. We just stocked up and bought olive oil, rice, quinoa, coffee, almond milk, frozen edamame pods, GF crackers, GF baking flour, and coconut water. We also bought drinks for our kids' school lunches, in addition to some other things I can't immediately recall. But it's all stuff that we use.

effed

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2014, 10:54:01 AM »
I love the idea of having wedding guests supply a few fav recipes! You can put them all in a binder and besides the good food, it will have a wonderful memory attached to it :) I second the BugetBytes blog, great recipes and easy on the wallet. My husband built a pantry quite a few years back and I love it. I never stocked it from scratch, rather I built it up over time based on the kinds of things I cook the most. I love soup, so my pantry has a lot of chicken and veggie broth, canned beans, and All the Tomato Products. I also have pasta, flours, my granola making supplies (I never eat prepackaged cereals, I have been making and eating granola for 7 or 8 years now). I have a few handy apps on my iPad to keep recipes in as well as a binder, and one of the shopping ads alerts me to sales at my local stores. I stock up on canned goods when they are on sale. The app I use to track my pantry items and keep my grocery list is MealBoard, and the one that alerts you to sales is Food on the Table. Mealboard cost me a few dollars, but I use it all the time.

Elaine

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2014, 10:54:33 AM »
Start with basics, and then build up the rest over time. That is my advice. When you notice you are buying something several times at a grocery store (like flour, etc.) then look into bulk prices- but only once you know you'll use it.

My Suggested Beginning List:

Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Baking Powder
Balsamic Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Cornmeal
Bagged or Canned Beans
Rice
Pasta
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Puree
Canned Tomato Paste (with these three tomato products you can make nearly any tomato based sauce)

Spices- Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Chili Powder, Oregano, Dill, Basil, Chinese 5 Spice, Arabic 7 Spice, Curry Powder of Choice, Smoked Spanish Paprika (these are the most versatile and will allow you to make a huge variety of flavor profiles).

Fridge Items-
Better Than Bouillon
Tahini
Lemon Juice




crumbcatcher

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2014, 11:11:24 AM »
I'll throw my support behind these two suggestions from above:
  • Use Budget Bytes to plan some meals
  • Only buy what you need for those meals
If you stock your pantry before you know what you'll really need/use, you could end up wasting money.  What one person stocks, another person might never want.

Have fun! Making a kitchen functional is one of the best parts of moving, IMO. I live in my kitchen!


Thegoblinchief

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2014, 11:38:57 AM »
Yeah, outside of super basic stuff like olive oil, bread flour, and rice I'd avoid stocking up on anything.

My core staples are pretty minimal, and AVOID stocking up on spices. Spices lose potency over time, so it's kind of pointless just to buy something "in case".

Once you're settled in, it's worth going through the pantry every couple of months and using up things that are just sitting around. Can be a great, or at least memorable, way to make some good (bad) dinners :)

Mlkmn

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2014, 12:13:03 PM »
I suggest procuring a grain grinder. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx

Then you can stock up on things that last longer like wheat berries, millet, whole rice, etc and just grind it yourself. You can hand crank or get a bosch/kitchen aid attachment. Flours are better when they are freshly ground.

MicroRN

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2014, 01:26:12 PM »
I think there are a few basics to keep around - salt, pepper, coconut oil, olive oil, flour, baking powder, cornmeal, yeast, rice, pasta, sugar.  I also always have canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Ro-tel tomatoes with chilies, chickpeas, black beans, chicken stock, PB, jam.  With those and meat in the freezer, eggs, and fresh and frozen vegetables, there's always something I can throw together.  I can bake bread or biscuits, make pancakes, spaghetti, etc.  I don't like menu planning, so I need to have a supply of basic ingredients on hand. Those are the items I reliably go through.     

However, I would not stock up on exotic spices or specialized ingredients.  I have cabinets full, and almost never use any of them.       

mollyjade

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2014, 01:32:27 PM »
I suggest procuring a grain grinder. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx

Then you can stock up on things that last longer like wheat berries, millet, whole rice, etc and just grind it yourself. You can hand crank or get a bosch/kitchen aid attachment. Flours are better when they are freshly ground.
I think this is a bad idea for someone who doesn't cook much yet. This is the kind of purchase I was talking about avoiding. One that sounds like what you SHOULD be doing (cooking everything from scratch, eating whole grains, buying in bulk to save money), but isn't likely to get used.

I'm this way about oatmeal. If I were starting a pantry from scratch, I'd be very tempted to buy oatmeal because it's healthy and frugal and everyone loves it and eats it. But in reality, I very rarely eat oatmeal, so it's not a good purchase for me.

1967mama

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2014, 02:58:26 PM »
Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker has a good article on stocking a pantry.  Take into consideration the fact that she has 6 children and cooks everything from scratch, but maybe it will help you with some ideas for your own list as well as what other posters have suggested :-)

http://theprudenthomemaker.com/index.php/about/living-on-food-storage

payitoff

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2014, 03:32:10 PM »
if i have a lot of time, i would live like a New Yorker would, stop by a neighboring grocery on the way home and only buy the ones needed for tonight's dinner. this way, there's no excess or spoilage, and everything is cooked fresh.   

we buy groceries weekly and only get the ingredients we need, for spices or bottled ones, we of course get them as it is, and overtime that's how we stocked our pantry

MrCash

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2014, 03:54:40 PM »
Start with basics, and then build up the rest over time. That is my advice. When you notice you are buying something several times at a grocery store (like flour, etc.) then look into bulk prices- but only once you know you'll use it.

My Suggested Beginning List:

Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Baking Powder
Balsamic Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Cornmeal
Bagged or Canned Beans
Rice
Pasta
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Puree
Canned Tomato Paste (with these three tomato products you can make nearly any tomato based sauce)

Spices- Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Chili Powder, Oregano, Dill, Basil, Chinese 5 Spice, Arabic 7 Spice, Curry Powder of Choice, Smoked Spanish Paprika (these are the most versatile and will allow you to make a huge variety of flavor profiles).

Fridge Items-
Better Than Bouillon
Tahini
Lemon Juice

Thanks for this!

By the way, what is Better Than Bouillon and Tahini?

MrCash

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2014, 03:57:13 PM »
I suggest procuring a grain grinder. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx

Then you can stock up on things that last longer like wheat berries, millet, whole rice, etc and just grind it yourself. You can hand crank or get a bosch/kitchen aid attachment. Flours are better when they are freshly ground.

I'll have to look into this, thanks!

MrCash

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2014, 04:00:21 PM »
I suggest procuring a grain grinder. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx

Then you can stock up on things that last longer like wheat berries, millet, whole rice, etc and just grind it yourself. You can hand crank or get a bosch/kitchen aid attachment. Flours are better when they are freshly ground.
I think this is a bad idea for someone who doesn't cook much yet. This is the kind of purchase I was talking about avoiding. One that sounds like what you SHOULD be doing (cooking everything from scratch, eating whole grains, buying in bulk to save money), but isn't likely to get used.

I'm this way about oatmeal. If I were starting a pantry from scratch, I'd be very tempted to buy oatmeal because it's healthy and frugal and everyone loves it and eats it. But in reality, I very rarely eat oatmeal, so it's not a good purchase for me.

I would actually like to start doing some of this kind of thing.  I've jumped on the oatmeal band wagon myself and have started eating it hot, putting it in cereal and even eating it straight.  The eating whole grains and buying in bulk part I would like to do, but just have to figure out how to get started.

Rural

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2014, 04:27:31 PM »
I suggest procuring a grain grinder. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx

Then you can stock up on things that last longer like wheat berries, millet, whole rice, etc and just grind it yourself. You can hand crank or get a bosch/kitchen aid attachment. Flours are better when they are freshly ground.
I think this is a bad idea for someone who doesn't cook much yet. This is the kind of purchase I was talking about avoiding. One that sounds like what you SHOULD be doing (cooking everything from scratch, eating whole grains, buying in bulk to save money), but isn't likely to get used.

I'm this way about oatmeal. If I were starting a pantry from scratch, I'd be very tempted to buy oatmeal because it's healthy and frugal and everyone loves it and eats it. But in reality, I very rarely eat oatmeal, so it's not a good purchase for me.

I would actually like to start doing some of this kind of thing.  I've jumped on the oatmeal band wagon myself and have started eating it hot, putting it in cereal and even eating it straight.  The eating whole grains and buying in bulk part I would like to do, but just have to figure out how to get started.

Let me suggest that rather than grains you'll need to grind, you start with brown rice and maybe barley (which makes any soup better). You get some of your whole grains, they store easily, and you ease into the cooking a bit before you spend on a grinder. At one point, I was growing/hunting more than half our food and cooking everything from scratch, and still didn't want to fork out the money or spend the time grinding wheat. It's a whole 'nother ball game. Cook for a while and you'll get a better idea of whether you want to get into that ball game.

In the meantime, try a stirfry with some of that rice. It's the fastest non-convenience food I can think of, and it's really good for you. Cook your veggies (and meat if you want it) in a mix of soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, and crushed red pepper, then stir in two heaping tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter once everything's done but the veggies are still a bit firm. Stir it around to melt the peanut butter into the soy sauce, and you have a great Thai peanut sauce.

If I were starting my pantry from scratch, I'd want rice, frozen vegetables, soy sauce, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, dry beans, tofu (cube it and stick it in the freezer for a firmer texture), frozen chicken breast, canned tomatoes, salsa, potatoes, onions, peanut butter, tortilla chips, cheese, vegetable oil, an italian seasoning mix, and chili powder. That will make a couple kinds of stirfry, chili, chicken and vegetable stew, nachos, Mexican dip, bean burgers, chicken cooked a couple of different ways to go with steamed veggies and potatoes, fried potatoes (add onions, cheese and a little shredded chicken with salt, pepper, and red pepper)-- basically, a couple of weeks' worth of meals without repeating. Oatmeal for breakfast and start collecting single-serve leftovers in the freezer for lunch, and you might not ever really need to branch out, though I'd want to add fruit to go with those lunches and/or in the oatmeal.

effed

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2014, 06:30:17 PM »
I wanted to say that if you are a spice nut like I am consider buying whole spices and have a dedicated coffee grinder for them. I don' think there is ANY comparison with things like say, cumin or coriander, when they are freshly ground compared to buying them already ground. The jolt of earthy alive fragrance you will get when you open the coffee grinder will wake up your smeller, that's for sure. Whole spices last longer.

I think a lot of us replying here are rural folks, so for me having a stocked pantry is very important. I can't just run to the store if I am out of something. If you live in a city near stores I'd walk to the store and buy small amounts of things a few times a week I think. I'd like to be able to do that, but we live too far away.

horsepoor

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2014, 09:17:37 PM »
It sounds to me like you might benefit from buying a pressure cooker, if you don't have one already.  I have this set:

http://www.amazon.com/Fagor-Futuro-5-Piece-Pressure-Cooker-Set/dp/B0018N0W3I/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1395457414&sr=8-3&keywords=pressure+cooker+set

Expensive, yes, but very versatile, and not a cheap made in China set.  If you're just starting out and don't have a well-equipped kitchen yet, this would work well for you, since the pot you are not using as a pressure cooker does double-duty as a regular pot or steamer.  I paid less than the Amazon price, and of course there are other pressure cookers out there for less.

Anyway, I mention this because it sounds like you're interested in learning to cook from scratch to save money, and a pressure cooker will make it MUCH easier.  Taking the time to wait for brown rice, much less dried beans, to cook after getting home from work is a drag.  You're much more likely to stick with it over time if the cooking is faster.

A slow cooker might also be a worthwhile investment for you, as beans, inexpensive root vegetables, and tougher cuts of meat all lend themselves to long, slow cooking, so this is another piece of equipment that will pay for itself in reduced grocery costs.

As far as pantry stocking, it really depends on what you like to eat, but the basic things I keep in mine are:

Basmati rice (just my preference)
Lentils (Red, puy, beluga...)
Black beans
Olive Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Soy Sauce/Tamari
Sriracha
Coconut milk
Olives
Tomato products (paste, diced, sauce)
Canned beans/refried beans
Popcorn
Chicken stock (learn to make your own!)
Curry paste
Baking soda
Baking powder
Vanilla

Paleo Stuff
Coconut flour
Coconut flakes
Nuts and seeds
Almond milk
Almond flour

Most Used Spices
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
Thyme
Sage
Rosemary
Marjoram
Tarragon
Granulated garlic
Paprika
Chile powder
Curry powder
Chile flakes
Turmeric
Cayenne
Cumin

MrCash

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2014, 11:31:10 PM »
I suggest procuring a grain grinder. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx

Then you can stock up on things that last longer like wheat berries, millet, whole rice, etc and just grind it yourself. You can hand crank or get a bosch/kitchen aid attachment. Flours are better when they are freshly ground.
I think this is a bad idea for someone who doesn't cook much yet. This is the kind of purchase I was talking about avoiding. One that sounds like what you SHOULD be doing (cooking everything from scratch, eating whole grains, buying in bulk to save money), but isn't likely to get used.

I'm this way about oatmeal. If I were starting a pantry from scratch, I'd be very tempted to buy oatmeal because it's healthy and frugal and everyone loves it and eats it. But in reality, I very rarely eat oatmeal, so it's not a good purchase for me.

I would actually like to start doing some of this kind of thing.  I've jumped on the oatmeal band wagon myself and have started eating it hot, putting it in cereal and even eating it straight.  The eating whole grains and buying in bulk part I would like to do, but just have to figure out how to get started.

Let me suggest that rather than grains you'll need to grind, you start with brown rice and maybe barley (which makes any soup better). You get some of your whole grains, they store easily, and you ease into the cooking a bit before you spend on a grinder. At one point, I was growing/hunting more than half our food and cooking everything from scratch, and still didn't want to fork out the money or spend the time grinding wheat. It's a whole 'nother ball game. Cook for a while and you'll get a better idea of whether you want to get into that ball game.

In the meantime, try a stirfry with some of that rice. It's the fastest non-convenience food I can think of, and it's really good for you. Cook your veggies (and meat if you want it) in a mix of soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, and crushed red pepper, then stir in two heaping tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter once everything's done but the veggies are still a bit firm. Stir it around to melt the peanut butter into the soy sauce, and you have a great Thai peanut sauce.

If I were starting my pantry from scratch, I'd want rice, frozen vegetables, soy sauce, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, dry beans, tofu (cube it and stick it in the freezer for a firmer texture), frozen chicken breast, canned tomatoes, salsa, potatoes, onions, peanut butter, tortilla chips, cheese, vegetable oil, an italian seasoning mix, and chili powder. That will make a couple kinds of stirfry, chili, chicken and vegetable stew, nachos, Mexican dip, bean burgers, chicken cooked a couple of different ways to go with steamed veggies and potatoes, fried potatoes (add onions, cheese and a little shredded chicken with salt, pepper, and red pepper)-- basically, a couple of weeks' worth of meals without repeating. Oatmeal for breakfast and start collecting single-serve leftovers in the freezer for lunch, and you might not ever really need to branch out, though I'd want to add fruit to go with those lunches and/or in the oatmeal.

Awesome!  Thanks for all this!  These are some great ideas.  I do some hunting myself (not very often), but it could be fun to try to make this a larger part of my food supply.

MrCash

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2014, 11:35:22 PM »
It sounds to me like you might benefit from buying a pressure cooker, if you don't have one already.  I have this set:

http://www.amazon.com/Fagor-Futuro-5-Piece-Pressure-Cooker-Set/dp/B0018N0W3I/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1395457414&sr=8-3&keywords=pressure+cooker+set

Expensive, yes, but very versatile, and not a cheap made in China set.  If you're just starting out and don't have a well-equipped kitchen yet, this would work well for you, since the pot you are not using as a pressure cooker does double-duty as a regular pot or steamer.  I paid less than the Amazon price, and of course there are other pressure cookers out there for less.

Anyway, I mention this because it sounds like you're interested in learning to cook from scratch to save money, and a pressure cooker will make it MUCH easier.  Taking the time to wait for brown rice, much less dried beans, to cook after getting home from work is a drag.  You're much more likely to stick with it over time if the cooking is faster.

A slow cooker might also be a worthwhile investment for you, as beans, inexpensive root vegetables, and tougher cuts of meat all lend themselves to long, slow cooking, so this is another piece of equipment that will pay for itself in reduced grocery costs.

As far as pantry stocking, it really depends on what you like to eat, but the basic things I keep in mine are:

Basmati rice (just my preference)
Lentils (Red, puy, beluga...)
Black beans
Olive Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Soy Sauce/Tamari
Sriracha
Coconut milk
Olives
Tomato products (paste, diced, sauce)
Canned beans/refried beans
Popcorn
Chicken stock (learn to make your own!)
Curry paste
Baking soda
Baking powder
Vanilla

Paleo Stuff
Coconut flour
Coconut flakes
Nuts and seeds
Almond milk
Almond flour

Most Used Spices
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
Thyme
Sage
Rosemary
Marjoram
Tarragon
Granulated garlic
Paprika
Chile powder
Curry powder
Chile flakes
Turmeric
Cayenne
Cumin

Yeah, I've been wanting a pressure cooker as well.  I think we will be receiving one as a wedding present, but I'll have to double check.

Haha, I discovered Sriracha recently and I bought myself a large bottle of it.  It even makes Ramen heavenly.

Annamal

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2014, 02:06:32 AM »
If not a pressure cooker then a ricemaker is incredibly useful (we've been using ours constantly for more than 5 years, it makes a killer risotto).


lizzzi

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2014, 07:45:33 AM »
Did anyone answer OP's question about Better Than Bouillon? It is an organic chicken base (or beef, but I buy the chicken one all the time) that, like a bouillon cube, you add to water to make a stock--a base for home-made soup or gravy. If your grocery has it, it will be in a glass jar in the section where they keep the chicken, beef, and vegetable broths--most likely near the canned soups. Not every grocery store has it (I can't get it at Aldi's), but it shouldn't be too hard to find. I use it all the time as a base for home-made soups.

effed

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2014, 08:13:04 AM »
Personally I prefer the taste of canned chicken broth over Better than Boullion. I stock up when it's on sale, sometimes down to fifty cents a can. I use BTB  sometimes, though. It's definitely better than boullion cubes :)

mollyjade

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2014, 12:57:32 PM »
I suggest procuring a grain grinder. http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx

Then you can stock up on things that last longer like wheat berries, millet, whole rice, etc and just grind it yourself. You can hand crank or get a bosch/kitchen aid attachment. Flours are better when they are freshly ground.
I think this is a bad idea for someone who doesn't cook much yet. This is the kind of purchase I was talking about avoiding. One that sounds like what you SHOULD be doing (cooking everything from scratch, eating whole grains, buying in bulk to save money), but isn't likely to get used.

I'm this way about oatmeal. If I were starting a pantry from scratch, I'd be very tempted to buy oatmeal because it's healthy and frugal and everyone loves it and eats it. But in reality, I very rarely eat oatmeal, so it's not a good purchase for me.

I would actually like to start doing some of this kind of thing.  I've jumped on the oatmeal band wagon myself and have started eating it hot, putting it in cereal and even eating it straight.  The eating whole grains and buying in bulk part I would like to do, but just have to figure out how to get started.

Let me suggest that rather than grains you'll need to grind, you start with brown rice and maybe barley (which makes any soup better). You get some of your whole grains, they store easily, and you ease into the cooking a bit before you spend on a grinder. At one point, I was growing/hunting more than half our food and cooking everything from scratch, and still didn't want to fork out the money or spend the time grinding wheat. It's a whole 'nother ball game. Cook for a while and you'll get a better idea of whether you want to get into that ball game.


Yeah, what I'm trying to say, is build a baking habit before you make a large investment in baking supplies, especially ones that require extra time and space beyond what you're paying in cash. Start from where you are now, not where you want to end up.

Someone mentioned grinding spices, and that's a much easier place to start. A basic coffee grinder is about $10-15, and bulk spices don't take up much space or money (most of them, at least). Whole spices stay fresh longer. And it only takes a few minutes to grind the spices. If you grind your own coffee, you'll want to do that in a separate grinder or your coffee will taste like cumin.

Elaine

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2014, 11:34:24 AM »
Start with basics, and then build up the rest over time. That is my advice. When you notice you are buying something several times at a grocery store (like flour, etc.) then look into bulk prices- but only once you know you'll use it.

My Suggested Beginning List:

Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Baking Powder
Balsamic Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Cornmeal
Bagged or Canned Beans
Rice
Pasta
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Puree
Canned Tomato Paste (with these three tomato products you can make nearly any tomato based sauce)

Spices- Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Chili Powder, Oregano, Dill, Basil, Chinese 5 Spice, Arabic 7 Spice, Curry Powder of Choice, Smoked Spanish Paprika (these are the most versatile and will allow you to make a huge variety of flavor profiles).

Fridge Items-
Better Than Bouillon
Tahini
Lemon Juice

Thanks for this!

By the way, what is Better Than Bouillon and Tahini?

Hey! Better than Bouillon is a jarred version of bouillon (or broth starter for soup). You add it to hot water and it makes instant broth. Tahini is a middle eastern thing (I'm lebanese) made of ground sesame seeds and oil (consistency is similar to organic made peanut butter). I use it to make homemade hummus as well as salad dressings.

Haha, thanks serpentstooth- you beat me to the punch.

cbgg

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2014, 12:38:48 PM »
Since I eat grain-free and only real food my pantry is spare, but if I were to go for a normal, healthy diet I'd do this:

To stock
 - Olive oil
 - 1 vinegar (whatever you like on your salad - apple cider is versitile)
 - Kosher Salt
 - Pepper in grinder
 - Cous cous
 - Qinoa
 - Pasta
 - Dry lentils
(I prefer the grains above because they are quick cooking)

On top of that I'd plant a little herb garden in a planter or window box close to the kitchen.

Other than that I'd just purchase as needed when you make recipes.  If you aren't good at cooking healthy meals, find a recipe website or blog and challenge yourself to try three new recipes each week.  By following recipes and trying new things you'll build up your skills and will naturally build out your kitchen with the ingredients you use most.

Another tip - buy yourself a set of spice jars and buy your spices from the bulk section as you need them.  Fred Meyer has an especially robust selection of spices in bulk.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2014, 12:40:33 PM by cbgg »

lizzzi

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2014, 07:34:12 AM »
There are a lot of great ideas posted here. I'm still agreeing with what someone said at the top of the thread--to start somewhat simply and build your pantry over time. I did that 15 months ago when we moved out-of-state and I brought virtually no food items to the house we purchased. I started by thinking about what we ate for breakfast and lunch--just ate pretty much the same things, so no meal planning involved--but listed and bought what I would need in terms of non-perishables on an ongoing basis for those two meals-- I started with salt, pepper,  oatmeal, and  peanut butter. Then as I planned supper meals week-to-week, I would stock the non-perishables needed for those recipes: tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, canned kidney beans, split peas, dried pasta …your choices will probably be different--think hard about what you really eat--not what you think you "should" eat. (Someone else said that, but it will really save you shelf space and money if you are realistic about that.)  I've noticed some households here seem to lean toward oriental products, but my husband is Italian and we eat a lot of Italian food--so my spice purchases included oregano and basil. I picked up some canned black olives, too--not as good as fresh, but they come in handy. As I found myself wanting to throw together some biscuit, dumpling, or pizza dough, I went out and bought flour, shortening, baking powder and dry yeast. So the whole thing was a process, and I'm finding 15 months later that I still have a well-organized pantry that serves our needs very well and is not filled with a bunch of weird stuff that we will never use.

MrCash

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #32 on: March 29, 2014, 09:46:25 AM »
You guys are awesome!

katie

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #33 on: March 30, 2014, 05:18:06 PM »
I liked Elaine's and Horsepoor's list, but would add peanut butter and (raw is my preference) honey.  And I agree to ease into stocking your pantry.  Get some staples, then start slowly adding. 

I don't know if it is available in your area, but I can't say enough good things about www.bountifulbaskets.org.  They have reduced my grocery bill and got me to experiment more.

abhe8

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Re: Stocking a Pantry from Scratch. What to buy?
« Reply #34 on: March 30, 2014, 05:29:47 PM »
i agree with just buy what you eat/cook. make a weekly meal plan, shop and eat. (or check the sale adds, then make a meal plan, shop and eat).

for me, pantry basics are:

salt and pepper
coconut oil
butter
olive oil

rice
quinoa
oatmeal
popcorn

raisins
dates
bread
almond butter
jelly

canned tomatoes
canned pumpkin puree

balsamic vinegar
apple cider vinegar

tons of dry spices, but i buy as i need (cilantro, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary and bay leaves are probably most common)