One of the biggest challenges faced by someone who is trying to build up a well stocked pantry is figuring out what to store. One of the simplest rules to follow when storing food for future use is to remember to store what you will eat. A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to keep track of what you ate as well as when you ate out and why. Lets start with the list of when you ate out and the reason. This may seem counter-productive, but statistics say that fifty percent of American meals are eaten away from home, and one of every five breakfasts eaten in this country was from that place with the golden arches. It goes without saying that eating out generally costs more than eating at home. In addition, when you eat out, you don’t have the same control over the quality of the ingredients.
So, let’s look at my families reasons for eating out this past week. The first time, it was because I got off work late, and I was too tired to come home and work my culinary magic on those pantry staples. The second time we ate out, it was to celebrate my oldest son finishing the first draft of his book. The second was a legitimate reason though I suppose that I could have just made him his favorite meal at home. The first take-out meal could have been avoided if my pantry or freezer had contained a few convenience items. Even in a household of culinarily challenged people, a frozen Lasagna or a tray of frozen enchiladas (either homemade or commercially produced) could have gone into the oven and been ready to eat when I got home, and I would have arrived 30 minutes earlier because I wouldn’t have stood in line and waited for the fast food that I carried in the door with me. Even spending $12.00 for a frozen party size lasagna paired with a simple salad, would’ve been cheaper than the $30 fast food run that I made. Building a pantry or food store is all about learning what your habits and needs are and ensuring that you have what you need to successfully produce meals for the best price.
Consider the kitchen skill levels of the other members of your household, and give yourself permission to pick up a few convenience foods to have on hand for those late nights to help curb those fast food dinners. Even two servings of that creamy vegetable lasagna had fewer calories than that double burger meal from the fast food place.
Next Week: Determining the building blocks for your family’s meals.
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