I've been looking over our grocery bills lately. I can't say they have gone down at all but we are making better food choices not only for ourselves but for the environment. We've mostly cut out most processed foods like junkie kids cereal, granola bars and sandwich meat.
I still have some bread crumbs left but will use these up as it's a waste not too. We love hot sauce and I could easily make my own and will do some when the chili pepper crop comes in this year. Last year it did not do so well so we had to resort to the store bought brand. We buy a lot Bob's Red Mill products too. We love their Quinoa and I'm anxious to try the Gluten Free Products. Also in this cabinet is tons of flour. I do a lot of bread baking and snack making. We no longer buy store bought cookies or snacks either. It does take a lot of planning but the results are so much better and so much more satifying and tasty. Another pantry staple is Oats. We buy many different kinds and use them in Granola, cookies and for breakfast.
We eat a lot of beans. I like to buy the dried beans but we always keep a stock of canned in pantry too. It's great to have them if we want to whip up some Hummus or barbecued beans or a vegetarian chili or a bean burritto.
We have spent more money on organic produce too but since we're not buying snacks the kids always have fresh vegetables or fruit to eat and that makes me feel better. I guess it's a matter of deciding what's important to your family and what works.
Soap isn't something I keep in the pantry but we no longer buy store bought soap. This is a batch of Sage-Lime soap that is drying on my kitchen counter. It's not very pretty to look at but I appreciate the rustic look. It tells me it's handmade and worth the effort.
This cupboard is by my stove. I use mason jars for everything. On the bottom shelf is my sugar bowl, coffee and tea storage along with oils and vinegars. Above that is a selection of teas. I'm more of a coffee drinker but do enjoy an herbal tea once in a while. We also use the tea bags for homemade iced tea. It's easy enough to brew up a big pot and store it in the refrigerator. Our family hates the powdered tea mixes. Their gritty, have a chemical taste and it always leaves a sludge on the bottom of the glass. The homemade tea we can throw in some mint or lemon and our own sugar if we want. Usually we make a simple sugar syrup so that we don't get gobs of sugar on the bottom of the glass. Dissolve equal parts of sugar and water and heat just until the sugar disolves. This can be used as a sweetener in anything.
Inside of our refrigerator there are several jars of freshly batched crockpot yogurt, milk in glass jars, some homemade ginger-ale and the homemade iced tea.
We always have a fresh supply of eggs from the chickens. Another great choice we made on our journey to self sufficiency. Eggs from the store are from factory chickens and now we find them inedible. Our eggs have the most orange yolk, and taste incredible and are no older than a week old. Our girls are fed grass and grain and bugs and all things good from freeranging in the yard.
Did you know that store bought eggs could be as old as a month before you buy them?
Many of our changes haven't saved us any money like the buying of pastured, organic meat. I don't use many coupons anymore because we aren't buying the processed stuff. I do still buy crackers and should make my own but it comes down to time. Maybe this summer I will try them and get the recipe perfected. Processed foods cost a lot of money- a good portion of that is spent on packaging. By not buying these items we are reducing our garbage also. Our recycle bins are much less full now and the mason jars for storage in my cabinet save room.
This pantry holds most everything else. I want to try my hand at making peanut butter. The store bought peanut butter is so expensive and we eat so much of it. I have big storage jars for corn meal, wheat flour, rice, brown sugar, beans, popcorn, wild rice, arborio rice, wheat berries, oats and homemade granola. I buy bulk ingredients for the granola and mix up six or eight quarts at a time. The glass jars make it easy to see when something is running low and needs replenishing. I do think that I'll have to buy more jars for canning this year. I seemed to have used a good portion for pantry storage.
What changes have you made?