After a recent post about groceries, I was talking with a friend about how we manage to go grocery shopping so “rarely”–anywhere from one week to three weeks.
That got me to thinking about how we pull it off, and what it boils down to is this: we keep certain things (foods, spices, etc.) in our kitchen that can be utilized by many different dishes. Here are a few examples:
1. A broad assortment of spices. In addition to the standard spices, like cinnamon, salt and pepper, make sure to have a few other options available too. Ones I find I use a lot include ginger, cumin, parsley, and (surprisingly) crushed red pepper flakes.
The benefit to having a variety of seemingly random spices is that if you don’t have a spice on hand that a recipe calls for, a quick internet search often yields an appropriate substitute, thus eliminating the need to go out to the store and spend money. For example, I did not have poultry seasoning on hand for a recipe, but I did have rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger, marjoram, and thyme that Google told me would make a decent DIY poultry seasoning. It worked!
2. Protein source. Be it lentils, peanut butter, chicken, beef, fish, or lamb, keeping a protein source at the ready can help you create the skeleton of a recipe. Plus, if you stock up when meats are on sale, you can also save money!
3. Veggies. It is a well-known fact that I incorporate almost-rotten foods in my cooking because I hate the idea of wasting food (and thus wasting money), but don’t discount frozen and canned vegetables either. Toss them in with your spices and protein source, and you are well on your way to a tasty casserole of your own making.
4. Cream of something soup. Ronnica makes her own cream of chicken soup; I prefer to buy mine. No matter your soup origin preference, if you have cream of chicken/mushroom/celery soup on hand, then you have a critical component of hundreds of recipes.
What food staples do you keep handy?