Last week we talked about what a “Just the Basics” pantry is (or minimalist pantry), and reasons to establish one in your home. We also talked about some ways to get started. This week we will be talking about shopping and stocking your awesome new fuss-free pantry system!
See Part 1 here: Establishing a “Just the Basics” Pantry
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Shopping for Your Pantry Essentials
In order for this system to provide you value, you still have to vigilant about finding the best prices.
Some great tips to save money are:
- Look at prices for bulk items rather than packaged or shelf items
- Think outside the grocery store (ethnic markets? Shopping online? Perhaps try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial)
- Try warehouse stores like Costco
- Price compare, check flyers, use coupons (the 3 pillars of money saving shopping!)
- Look at the price per unit! I cannot stress this enough. Many “sales” are total bullshit. Most stores will have a tiny unit price on the bottom of the tag that will say the price per gram, ounce etc. compare these to make sure you are getting the best deal.
- Don’t buy items that won’t be used, and if you are trying something new, only buy a small amount in case you don’t end up liking it. Remember the tip from last week if you are going to be experimenting with new items!
Keeping the Green Factor in mind:
Reducing plastic and packaging waste was one of the motivations for setting up your food pantry in this manner. Keeping this in mind, try to avoid using the plastic bags that are provided, and instead use containers (if the store has a reusable container program) or reuseable bags (see below). That being said, if you do end up using the plastic bags, try and have a use in mind for recycling/upcycling them.
What to Buy to Stock Your Food Pantry
The beauty of this is that everyone’s lists are going to be different. There are a few things you can do to try and organize what YOU will be getting.
- Think back on what you regularly eat and the items that pop up frequently. Tomato paste? Broth? Do you have any recipes that you use often or ingredients that get used up like crazy in your house? These are probably your staples.
- Just for fun, ask yourself the following: If you had only 5-10 items for the rest of your life and needed to use only these to make food for the rest of your life, what would they be?
- If you meal plan, check out your meal plans for items that you make all the time. Look back through old plans if you need to (that is, if you keep them!).
You should end up with a list of things that form the basis of your staples. Save yourself some trips dragging your ass to the grocery store and some gas by buying these items in bulk- especially if you find some great sales (just keep in mind the expiration dates of these items)
Need Some Inspiration? Here’s Our List!
I tried to “loosely” arrange these into categories; however you’ll notice that there is some overlap between them, and I’m ok with that. My intention with sharing this is more about the purpose of using a minimalist pantry, rather than the details.
The categories I am using are Spices, Dry Items, Liquid Items, and Baking Ingredients. Like I said, there is some overlap, but it seemed like a more fun way of organizing things then the traditional “beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, oils and vinegars” type list. Dare to be different right?!
- Spices: These are essential if you are trying to avoid packaged/processed foods and sugars. If you are moving towards a whole foods pantry you are going to become an expert as seasoning with herbs and spices. We keep pretty large amounts of spices here because we make our own spice mixes and go through them fast.
- Dry Items: This includes your beans (if you do dry rather than canned), grains, nuts etc.
- Baking Ingredients: This is your flours, baking soda, yeast, etc.
- Liquid Items: This includes any juices, broth, oils, extracts, etc.
Minimalist Pantry List:
Now keep in mind this isn’t everything that we consider to be our staples. You might notice that there is no mention of canned goods at all, and I guarantee you that you will always find diced tomatoes and tomato paste in our pantry. The idea with this list was simply to provide an example of some of the things you might want to consider for your own list!
What are your best tips for stocking your food pantry?
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