Friday, February 19, 2010

What's In My Pantry? (On the Affordability of Eating Healthy Part Four)

Are you curious to know what is in my pantry? This question was submitted by the same mom who is making health changes for her big family as some of the earlier questions this week. Her hard work, willingness and determination is to be commended. She asks the following question with the need for frugality in mind.

Right now I am in a period where I am cleaning out my pantry and fridge of processed foods, but don't really know what to restock with! Help! Do you have a list of good healthy staples to begin to stock up on?

As I type out my thoughts on this topic these past few days, I am reminded that one of the biggest keys to eating healthy is to make your own food from whole ingredients. It saves money and it keeps real food on the table. In order to do this, it really helps to properly plan and to set aside a time to cook and bake. (I've blogged a lot about this before!)

So, here is what is in my pantry on a regular basis. I consider these things my staples. And with them, I make pretty much everything we eat. I do buy certain other ingredients when a recipe calls for them, but this is what I keep stocked. My list:
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews, etc.)
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax)
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • Dried fruits (raisins, apples, dates, etc.)
  • Some whole grain pasta for when I need to make a meal in a hurry
  • Brown Rice
  • Wheat (hard red and hard white)
  • Lots of Oats
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (and EVOO cooking spray)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Honey, Sucanat and some molasses for gingerbread
  • Balsamic Vinegar and Rice Wine Vinegar
  • A few bottles of EVOO Salad Dressing from Earth Fare
  • Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste
  • Jars of Spaghetti Sauce, again for when I need to make a quick meal
  • Canned beans and Salsa, because making a quick bean burrito casserole with whole grain tortillas and grated cheese from the freezer is a whole lot better than driving through Taco Bell
  • Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Red Beans, Lentils, Split Peas, etc (dried)
  • Boneless Skinless Salmon
  • Natural Peanut Butter (we can't really afford organic for all the peanut butter we eat!)
  • Organic Non-GMO Corn Chips (my husband eats these and the children do when they're with him)
  • Lots of herbs and spices
  • Garlic Heads
  • Sea Salt
  • Yeast
  • Arrowroot Powder
  • Unsweetened cocoa (and sometimes organic chocolate chips)
  • Organic Non-GMO Popcorn
  • Some crackers or other whole foods snacks if I find them on good sale with a coupon
In the fridge, we always have:
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt, Kefir or Raw Milk
  • Florida Orange Juice
  • Lots of fruit and vegetables
  • A few condiments like lemon juice, mustard, pickles, saurkraut and all-fruit spread
  • And, that's about it! I always think our fridge looks bare.

Our freezer contains:
  • Breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, granola, tortillas, pitas that I make on Baking Day and freeze. (I don't want to always be baking, so I devote a day every two weeks or so to stock up. I don't bake all of these things at once, but a few every time, baking enough to last several weeks.)
  • Whole Chickens
  • Grass Fed Beef
  • Sometimes fish or salmon if I find wild-caught from a good location on sale and buy up a lot
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Meals that I double and freeze half for a crunch evening (because you know they will come, so why not be prepared!)
  • Cornmeal
  • Coconut Flour
    Frozen strawberries, blueberries and bananas for smoothies
  • Some frozen vegetables, spinach and frozen corn

    More later,


rhenry said...

Just want you to know that I have LOVED your series of posts! They have answered a lot of questions for me that I kept researching to figure out, but never thought to ask anyone :) Thanks for doing the hard work and sharing your wisdom with us! (and, BTW- I can't wait to meet the new little one! We need to get down there and spend time with you all, and maybe I can get a cooking lesson or two as well:) )

Carrie Beth said...

Thanks! This has been very informative and confirmation that our family is moving in the right direction. It is hard not to be saving tons of money with coupons, but I feel great knowing my kids are not getting processed foods! Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us.

staci @ teaching money to kids said...

I might have to print out this list, and see how it compares to ours.
i wanted to invite you to join our meatless monday carnival tomorrow. You can link something new, or favorite from the past. Eventually, I want to link up your granola bar recipe (with credit of course), since we make it every other week, but I thought I should give you the chance to link it up on your own.
I get so many requests for that recipe. Because my husband takes it to work for his breakfast.
Any way, here is the link, check it out. We would love to have you join us.…ese-enchiladas/

Michelle said...

I am so happy to see you are posting. I can't believe you are back already from having a new baby! What a pleasant surprise to see these great posts!

I have one question about your pantry. Why hard red and hard white wheat? The choices in wheat are somewhat overwhelming! I've just started baking our own bread (using a dutch oven) and am experimenting with different grains (spelt, semolina, etc).

Thanks for your hard work. It has been such a blessing to me and my family as we make changes in the way we live and eat.

Amy Ellen said...

Hi Michelle,

From what I have read, there is not much nutritional difference between red and white wheat berries, although there seems to be higher protein in the spring berries versus the winter berries.

That said, I started using red wheat because that is what my only friend who baked bread used. It has a nuttier, heavier flavor. When my littles started eating bread at age one or so, I noticed the wheat bran was really hard on their little bottoms.

So, I started mixing my berries half and half with white wheat berries. It made a lighter loaf and it was much easier on their bottoms.

Why don't I use all white wheat berries? I don't know. Old habits die hard, I guess.

However, when I make birthday cakes or other such desserts, I usually use all white wheat berries for a lighter result.

Hope this helps!

Michelle said...