Friday Tips: Shopping in your pantry

Delicious Vegan Dish of the Day:

For lunch today we finally finished off the leftover chili from the freezer.  We topped it with crushed tortilla chips and chopped avocado.

Money Matters:

Just playgroup and hanging out inside while we watched the rain.  No money spent.

Friday Tips for Living Vegan and Living Cheap – with kids!:

Shopping in your pantry

As part of my attempt to clear clutter out of our lives, I’ve been focusing some cooking energy on the items that have been lurking in our pantry, unused, for quite a while.  This has led to some yummy meals, including orzo pilaf, cous cous with lemon and olives, and even lasagna.  Not only has shopping in my own pantry giving me cooking inspiration, but it is a great way to use what you’ve already got instead of spending extra money at the store.  Here are a few tips I use when I’m in pantry-decluttering mode:

Time it right: I usually start cooking dinner around 5 pm.  So, 4:50 is a really bad time for me to be browsing the pantry for stuff to use in dinner.  Maybe I’m just to inflexible, but I like to know what I’m making ahead of time and have my menu ready to go.  So, I’ve tried to look through the pantry, the fridge, and freezer in the morning while the kids are busy.  Then I have time to take stock, and think up some ideas for ways to use those “extras” in meals instead of feeling rushed to throw something together.  Which leads to my next tip:

Make a list: Yeah, I love lists.  In this case, after many time seeing the same packet of orzo lurking in the pantry and then forgetting about it 10 minutes later, I finally wised up and made a list of all the “extras” I wanted to use up.  So, now we have a list on our fridge that includes things like pepper jelly, matzoh meal, and frozen basil.  When I’m planning our menu for the week, I quickly scan the list to get ideas for how to use this stuff up.

Use the power of the internet: I absolutely love looking for recipes online.  It is so easy to go to veg news, vegetarian times, allrecipies or even just google.  Put in the ingredient name, the term “recipe” and all kinds of recipes come up!  To be honest, I rarely use a recipe exactly as it is given – I usually adapt it to my tastes, or just use it as a jumping off point.  But the internet makes it easy to get ideas for all those random ingredients lurking in your pantry!

Sometimes we don’t need to go far to find something new to cook.  Just check out your own kitchen for a fun and cheap way to shake things up!

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