Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cooking on a Budget: Lesson 2- Basic Ingredients

Alright... last time, I covered one of the first steps in stocking up your kitchen to get ready to cook, which was getting your spice rack up to par. Now, that is a great first step, but unless you have a cast-iron stomach, you're probably not going to be able to live on spices alone. SO. What to do, what to do.

I went through the recipes I've posted, and have made a list of basic ingredients that appear over and over again- these are things I pretty much always have on hand. If you can just have really basic stuff around, you'll find that it seems less overwhelming to make things because you'll end up having most of the ingredients and just need to buy 2 or 3 things to make any one recipe. Also, because these are pretty simple, non-processed foods, they are all cheap and will keep in the cupboard.

Here is a list of things I am never without...
In the fridge:
--bag of spinach (super cheap at Trader Joes. if you go to the grocery store, don't buy bags of it, buy bunches of it over by the lettuce for half the price)
--peanut butter (I only buy the kind that has only peanuts and salt. who wants all that other stuff?)
--soy sauce (apparently you do indeed have to keep this in the fridge)

In the cupboard:
--bag of lentils (not only diverse, but possibly the most budget friendly food ever at 99 cents for a bag with 13 servings in it)
--bag of brown rice
--bag of onions
--garlic cloves
--ginger root
--olive oil
--balsamic vinegar
--couscous or some grain of your choice (I also like bulgar, which I get in bulk at Whole Foods)
--canned diced tomatoes
--canned garbanzo beans
--broth of your choice (chicken or veggie; Trades Joes also has some cool little concentrated liquid packets of broth so that you only use as much as you need and don't have something around that goes bad or need to mess with cans. I bet they have them other places. I also used powdered stuff from the regular store).

Optional items I also always have but that don't necessarily relate to the recipes:
--giant container of oatmeal. add some frozen fruit or a banana- best breakfast ever.
--bag of frozen chicken breasts (obviously only for the non-vegetarians)
--canned black beans
--rice wine vinegar (great for salads and for a lot of Asian dishes)
--salsa. makes anything better.
--honey (btw- if you're interested, you can also make face scrub out of honey, salt, and sugar).
--these bags of frozen green beans from TJs that are actually good, and you can pull out a bit at a time for an emergency vegetable (you know, in case you are at imminent risk of scurvy)

And finally, the other thing you need-
--individually portion sized tupperwares. This is the best tip anyone ever gave me. Just because you made some giant pot of soup doesn't mean you have to eat it all week. Put individual portions in tupperwares and freeze for your own homemade frozen lunches.

Stay tuned, and I'll point out some of the recipes from this website that you could make if you had all of these ingredients.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

keep the lessons coming, I'm taking notes!


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