Step 4 – What have you got?
What have you got in your cupboards today?
You have set up your budget, found out what your family eats and drawn up your meal plan. It is time to go shopping.
The first thing you need to do is to go shopping in your own cupboards https://kasheringyourlife.co.za/my-cupboard-adventure/. The best way to do this is to have an inventory of what you already have in stock.
Knowing what you have will help you stick to your grocery budget. https://kasheringyourlife.co.za/grocery-budget-the-2nd-step-to-successful-meal-planning/Shopping at home first prevents you from buying double, having to throw out foods and products and can even help you plan your menu for the week.
Using the knowledge of what you have in your cupboards to plan your meals, means that the end of the month is a little less stressful.
You can use what you have left to find recipes to make with those ingredients. Stews and soups are always best.
With either of these you can usually toss them all into one pot and let them cook. I also like to keep the broken bits of pasta at the bottom of the packet or jar (if you decant them) and add them to the end of month meals for a little extra bulk.
Here are some things that I always have on hand either in the freezer or my pantry cupboard, to get me to the end of the month.
Herbs and Spices
Salt, pepper, dried Italian herbs, curry powder (I have a variety), Paprika, Garlic salt, Garlic flakes, Onion salt, Parsley, any mixed spice that you enjoy (e.g. chop spice, rice spice etc.), stock powder/cubes.
Peas, beans, sweetcorn (creamed and kernels), tuna, tomato and onion mix, mixed vegetables. These are often the bases for great meals. Canned beans especially help stretch meals and make them more filling.
Beans and other legumes and pulses are great for diabetics and teenagers. They are low GI, this means they not only keep you feeling full for longer, they also keep your blood glucose on a more even level.
Eggs are another must have item. Not only are they great for breakfast on their own or with toast. Eggs are used in a variety of ways from breakfast all the way to dinner and having been reinvented from the 70’s devilled eggs to a more modern, deep fried, crumbed version.
I have used eggs as wraps as well! Make and omelet and then use it as you would a wrap. The perfect school or work lunch, without the carbs.
Even if you are not a big baker or any kind of baker at all, flour is a must. I have a small packet of flour and a packet of self-raising flour, which I keep in the freezer. Keeping the flour in the freezer prevents insect infestation, especially if the flour is only used occasionally.
Pasta is another essential for your cupboard. Filling, ready in 20 minutes and cheap, it is versatile and easy to add to any recipe. The pieces that break off in the packet should be kept to add to stews and soups (I did say this already but it bears repeating), reduce your food waste.
Mielie Meal, buy the quick cooking type. Mielie meal is cheap and filling, it is easy to cook and can be served soft as porridge for breakfast with some cinnamon and raisins for sweetness or medium stiff as an accompaniment for your braai or boerewors. It can be made into a ‘pap-tert’/layer cake, when it is stiff, place it in a cake tin, press down, fill with whatever you want, from cooked mincemeat to baked bean. Press a second layer on top of the filling and then pour a sauce over, such as chakalaka, tomato and onion mix or grated cheese.
Powder soups and stocks
These are great to eat as a light meal or to add to a stew. One of my “I’m too tired to think”, tricks is to use the packet soup in a one-pot dish, usually in the slow cooker. I pour it over rice, frozen veg and marrow bones, add th recommended amount of water, and then cook on auto for around 4-6 hours. It is a really cheap, way to get flavour into your dish.
Marrow bones, chicken carcasses and stewing/soup bones, these are cheap ways to get protein and meat into your meal.
Soup/stewing bones usually have very little meat so they are great for flavor. I roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes before adding them to my soup.
Marrow bones have some meat on them and so I use those for stews.
Chicken carcasses are great for soups and add a real depth of flavor, you often only need to add salt and pepper for a delicious chicken soup. You can either use a raw carcass from the butcher or use the leftovers from your meal. You can freeze the cooked bones until you need to use them.
These are probably something in your kitchen that is looked at with disdain. If you clean your veg really well before peeling them, then the peels can be made into a hearty vegetable soup, I make it into a mash to add to the dogs food (no spices added).
If you are one of those amazing individuals that can grow their own herbs and vegetables then you will know the peels also make great compost. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/composting-kitchen-scraps.htm
Often the peel of the vegetable is actually where you will find the most nutrients, so turning them into a soup ensures a truly healthy meal.
Are you ready to start shopping?