cheap veggie gourmet

A blog detailing ways to enjoy a gourmet vegetarian diet on the cheap. Check out recipes, food stories, tips and techniques.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Well-Stocked Veggie Pantry

Keeping costs down while maintaining a varied and pleasurable diet requires a little forethought and ingenuity.

I utilize the Pantry Principle, as outlined in Amy Dacyczyn's invaluable reference The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Basically stated, shopping for foods to create specific meals is backwards. What you should do instead is buy foods based on value, then create meals from what you have in your pantry.

It takes a little bit of time and investment to build up a good pantry. However, by taking advantages of sales, salvage stores, and warehouse stores, you can gather a store of food without hurting your budget.

Be create about food sources. I recently found 14.5 ounce cans of Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes for 50 cents a piece at Dollar Tree. I've seen these in other stores for as much as $2.19 a can. I bought twenty of them. I get a good deal of the pasta we eat at Walgreens whenever they have a three for a dollar sale. Rice comes in a ten pound bag from an Asian grocery where I also buy shelf-stable tofu by the case.

I can't tell anyone else what to keep on-hand, because regional differences, tastes, and food tolerances are very individual.

But over the next few entries, I'll detail what I keep on-hand, starting today with dry goods.

Here is an example of some of what can usual be found in my cabinets:

  • Canned beans. I generally buy these at the local scratch n dent grocery store, 3 cans for $1. I keep a few different kinds: black, red, kidney, chick peas.
  • Pasta. This is a mix of durum wheat pasta every shape I can get for 40 cents a pound or less; rice noodles, which I buy at the Asian grocery for 50 cents a pound; and, whenever possible, organic whole wheat pasta.
  • Rice. I keep brown, jasmine and arborio on-hand at all times.
  • Dry lentils, split peas and dry mung beans. These are the only dry legumes I keep on-hand. I live in Florida with no air conditioning, and have not yet invested in a crockpot, so, cooking any others on stove top just over-heats my house too much.
  • Rolled oats. Organic ones are very cheap in the bulk section of the natural foods store.
  • Breakfast cereal, depending on what shows up at the salvage store or on sale. I'm not brand loyal, but low sugar, high fiber and organic picks are favorites.
  • Potatoes, occasionally. I don't buy these often, as my fiance has arthritis, and is sensitive to foods in the nightshade family.
  • We eat sweet potatoes more often. These are not at all related to white potatoes, but are instead part of the morning glory family.
  • Canned tomato products, including sauce, diced tomatos, whole tomatos and paste.


At 4:34 PM, Anonymous paul said...

I do the same thing - shop for what's on sale and store it or cook it.

When I can splurge I do the reverse. I know you're a veggie but the difference in meat prices is staggering sometimes. A small pork tenderloin can be 8 bucks or 3 bucks, depending on the day of the week. It'll cost you if you chose the wrong recipe on the wrong day.


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