I’m embracing a well-known money saving tip – shop from your pantry. A few unexpected expenses* have come our way so we’re tightening the budget. Thanks to buying in bulk, I have a well-stocked pantry. Over the next few weeks I’m forcing myself to be creative and resourceful with the food we already have.
I’m guessing that I’m not the only one ducking off to the shop when there’s perfectly good food in the pantry, so I thought I’d share some pantry shopping tips.
How to pantry shop
1. List what you have in abundance or need to use up
The first thing I do is make a short list of what I have in abundance and need to use up. Last week I listed red lentils, chickpeas, polenta, and mung beans. These are all foods I tend to ignore because they take a little time to prepare.
2. Meal plan
Next, I list some of my favourite recipes that use these ingredients and search online for inspiration. I focus on finding recipes that also use garden produce I have in abundance. At the moment I have plenty of eggs, potatoes, pumpkin and zucchini.
My meal plan last week included dahl, lentil and potato burgers, chickpea and pumpkin salad, hummus, roast vegetable and polenta salad, polenta bread, polenta pancakes, and mung bean soup (far more delicious than it sounds).
I also included frittata (made from our chook eggs and garden veggies), palak paneer (made from garden greens and homemade paneer cheese), and lamb shanks (the last of a whole local lamb we bought a while back).
3. Substitute and be flexible
While choosing recipes, I list any ingredients I need to buy. Last week, I only needed to buy a couple of lemons, a few pieces of fruit and milk. I was flexible and substituted or omitted ingredients. For example, I made a buttermilk substitute using lemon and milk. I also served foraged Purslane with most of our meals.
I will be spending a little more time in the kitchen than usual over the next few weeks. But I will also save a whole lot of money, reduce food wastage, and continue to serve my family nourishing and sustainable food despite our tight budget.
Are there foods lurking in your pantry that you ignore? Perhaps it’s time to shop from your pantry?
Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 22nd February 2014.
*My camera broke and needed to be replaced quicky to meet a work deadline. Shortly after I fell in love with a horse (meet Poppy), and then a week later we had to move into a rental property (yep - we are no longer living in the shed at our little farm. I'll share more shortly).