Posted in food

Pantry Week

I attribute this idea to my daughter Beth although I am sure she discovered it in one of her wonderful magazines or on a blog somewhere.  When the budget is tight and you need to stretch your grocery dollar, try doing a “pantry week,” using up what is in your pantry.  Yesterday I took inventory of what I have in the cupboards. One shelf of my cupboard is full of spices, not because I am such a creative cook, but because of the recent Tones and McCormick spices coupons that were in the newspaper. When our local Fareway had Tone’s spices on sale for 2/$1 I stocked up on cinnamon, minced onion and other commonly used spices, free after the $1 off 2 coupon.  I’d already stocked up several months before that when the $1 off 1 coupon was out.  Then McCormick came out with a $1 coupon and I’ve used that one to purchase pepper, Italian seasoning, parsley, etc.  All this is wonderful; free spice, but those seasonings aren’t going to do me much good with my pantry plan. However, that olive oil will go nicely with some seasoning for the bag of chicken breasts I found in the freezer that are now thawing out in the refrigerator.  I also discovered two 2 lb. packages of ground beef, and lots of Green Giant frozen vegetables that I’ve purchased with coupons, including broccoli, which would make a nice soup.Despite the Skippy peanut butter recipe book my daughter gave her Dad for Christmas, my stockpile of peanut butter isn’t going to be a lot of help, either.  I could make peanut butter cookies, but we are trying to rid our body of sugar after the holidays so that isn’t a good idea.  Beth swears up and down there are recipes for a peanut butter main dish inside that cookbook so I might just have to check it out before the week is up.

Some other good base products I discovered in my pantry; lots of tomato soup, Hormel canned chicken purchased with $2 off 3 coupons, various Ronzoni pasta I bought with 75-cents off coupons, Libby’s canned corn, pancake mix, and crackers. I also have several packages of Libby’s corn beefed hash and Spam, both purchased with the $2 off 3 Hormel/Libby coupons.  Neither is palatable by itself, but add some potatoes and you have a serviceable meal. 

My refrigerator was sadly empty, but now has two packages of hamburger thawing and the bag of chicken breasts, which I will be using tonight.  Inside the freezer I have a dozen Louis Rich turkey patties, more frozen vegetables and a bag of frozen blueberries.

I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought: 

10 pounds of potatoes, in-store special $2.99

18 eggs for $1.69

1 loaf white bread (I have 4 loaves of whole wheat inside my freezer but the kids like white for peanut butter sandwiches)

2 half gallons of milk.

Half & Half for David’s coffee.

I also bought:

Why?  Because I have a bunch of $1 off one McCormick coupons that expire Jan. 3, 2010, that’s why.  I just can’t bear to let them go to waste.  The “grinders” cinnamon is $1.19, so 19-cents with the coupons, the chili powder is 89-cents, so free after coupon, and the onion powder and minced onions are $1.69, so 69-cents each.  I use a lot of minced onion. I don’t cook with real onions, ever.  I can’t bear to touch them, smell them or eat them, but I don’t mind using minced onions.  I have tried to figure out my aversion to onions but it isn’t clear to me.  What I do know is that it is the feel  of the onion, not so much the taste. Same with mushrooms. I feel like gagging with that texture on my tongue.

Speaking of the texture of food, do you like dried fruit?  I like fruit of any kind, but I’ve read more and more that dried fruit isn’t any better for you than candy, with all the sugars they add to it.  That is why I was thrilled to discover a cart of these at Hy-Vee;

Normally $1.29 each pack, these were marked down to 20-cents! Geisha Naturals are 100% fruit with no additives, no preservatives and no added sugar, just 100% freeze-dried fruit.  I love them! They are light and airy and taste like the real thing, only better.  Wish I had more of these in my pantry. The kids don’t care for them, but I don’t mind. That leaves more for me!

I’m going to try to make it an adventure;living out of my pantry for the next few days. This is a good time to do so, with the new year fast approaching and all of us making resolutions. One of mine is to save more money at the grocery store by making lists and maybe even a menu each week. My biggest mistake is going to the store more than once a week, and usually without a list.  Once again I will turn to my daughter Beth for inspiration in this area. She does very well in the grocery-shopping department. Isn’t it neat when we can learn from our own children?

see Beth’s blog @


Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

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