pantry http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7889/all en-US 9 Pantry Tricks That Save You Big http://www.wisebread.com/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_holding_groceries_000043134348.jpg" alt="Woman learning pantry tricks that will save her big" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all want to save wherever we can, and the pantry is a place where small steps can make a considerable difference. Learn how to cut back and cash in with these nine pantry tricks that will save you big.</p> <h2>1. Start Stacking</h2> <p>Raised or stacked storage (like bleachers in a gymnasium) will let you see more of your canned and jarred items simultaneously, so you instantly know what you have at your disposal. Often, these storage devices are expandable &mdash; like this&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001E2864K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001E2864K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=AI57KKQFTODP23T4">three-tier spice organizer</a> &mdash; to accommodate spaces of varying widths.</p> <h2>2. Buy in Bulk and Portion at Home</h2> <p>If you have a lot of mouths to feed, or you consume large quantities of a particular food item, you'll save money by buying in bulk. When you get home, you can divvy up the portions into your own containers without paying the extra &quot;convenience&quot; costs that are passed on to you for pre-packaged items. This practice also helps you reduce runs to the store to refill, which, in turn, saves you time and gas money.</p> <h2>3. Store Food in Clear Containers</h2> <p>By putting goods like cereal and pasta in airtight, see-through containers, you're helping yourself out two-fold. One, you'll be able to see right away what you need more of, and what you don't (therefore reducing your grocery bill). Two, the food will stay fresher longer than if left to sit in rolled-up bags in the original boxes.</p> <h2>4. Use the FIFO Method</h2> <p>Don't know what the FIFO method of storing is? Simple &mdash; first in, first out. In other words, you should be removing/consuming pantry items in the order you put them in, instead of eating newer items first. That way, you don't waste food by letting items expire.</p> <h2>5. Emphasize Healthy Staples</h2> <p>Instead of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-hardest-working-foods-in-your-pantry">filling your pantry</a> with a hodge-podge of things you'll &quot;probably&quot; eat, focus on things you know you'll eat &mdash; like healthy, all-meal ingredients that are part of your everyday diet.</p> <p>&quot;Keep healthy staples, such as oatmeal, brown rice/whole grains, and dry beans &mdash; stored in airtight BPA- free containers to ensure they last longer &mdash; as well as canned tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and low sodium bouillon or broth as recipe starters,&quot; advises registered dietitian Kristie LeBeau. &quot;You can cook large batches of beans, soups, grains, and oatmeal for a quick, low-cost, healthy meal.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Stock Up on Seasonally Packaged Items After the Holiday</h2> <p>If you're a snacker, you'll save a bundle if you scour the aisles after a big snacking holiday like Halloween, Christmas, or Easter. Most popular snack brands release goods in holiday packaging, which is drastically reduced &mdash; sometimes to the tune of 75% &mdash; just days after the holiday. These items have just as long a shelf life as the regular packaged items but at a fraction of the cost. Don't go overboard, of course, but a few bags of discounted chips, cookies, and crackers is never a bad idea.</p> <h2>7. Keep an Eye on What You're Eating &mdash; And What You're Not</h2> <p>One of my worst habits when I was younger was going to the supermarket blind. By that I mean I would shop for pantry items that I wasn't sure I had or not, because I didn't check before I left the house. I was buying these items over and over, when, in reality, I still had plenty at home. You may be doing the same thing. I suggest taking inventory of what you have before making your shopping trips to cut back on duplicate items.</p> <p>This is also a good time to take a look at what you're eating more and less of. Take that feedback and adjust your shopping habits accordingly. Stop buying what you're not eating.</p> <h2>8. Shop for Non-Perishables Less Frequently</h2> <p>I changed my diet to include primarily fresh, healthy foods so much, that I've whittled down my pantry from a large closet in the hall to just three cabinets in the kitchen. You've heard time and again that all that processed junk isn't good for you &mdash; and it isn't &mdash; so maybe now's a good time to clean the pantry. Keep the essentials, donate the excess, and start eating a little cleaner.</p> <h2>9. Plan Meals at the Beginning of the Week</h2> <p>If your pantry seems to be fattening instead of slimming, you need to use more of what you already have. An easy way to do that is to plan your meals. On Sunday, decide what you'll make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, and try to integrate some of your pantry items into that menu. Not only will you save time by having a plan of attack when you're hungry (which helps ward off last-minute take-out meals), but you'll reduce your stockpile of overflowing pantry items without spending any extra money.</p> <p><em>Do you have more pantry tricks that have saved you big? I'd love to hear your tips. Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods">9 Cheap and Healthy Filler Foods</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-the-takeout-meal-cycle-and-save">How to Stop the Takeout Meal Cycle and Save</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-save-on-groceries-in-a-pinch">5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries in a Pinch</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-easiest-food-budget-wins">The 9 Easiest Food Budget Wins</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-wise-breads-88-best-food-hacks-ever">Flashback Friday: Wise Bread&#039;s 88 Best Food Hacks Ever</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Home Organization cupboards food storage groceries meal planning pantry Wed, 09 Dec 2015 16:00:25 +0000 Mikey Rox 1618563 at http://www.wisebread.com 18 Frugal Foods You Should Always Have in Your Freezer http://www.wisebread.com/18-frugal-foods-you-should-always-have-in-your-freezer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/18-frugal-foods-you-should-always-have-in-your-freezer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000036074956_Large.jpg" alt="frozen fruit popsicles" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The freezer is probably <em>the</em> most useful appliance in the kitchen, what with its ability to stop time and to prevent you from hitting the drive-through. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-hardest-working-foods-in-your-pantry?ref=seealso">The 10 Most Versatile Foods in Your Pantry</a>)</p> <p>Here are 17 items that should always be chilling in a frugalista's freezer.</p> <h2>1. Ready-to-Eat Meals</h2> <p>These could be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-delicious-freeze-ahead-dinners-for-busy-fall-weeknights">dinners you batch cooked</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-make-ahead-freezable-hot-breakfast-recipes">frozen&nbsp;pancakes</a> stacked between sheets of parchment paper, or heck, even TV dinners and pizzas purchased on sale. It's up to you whether your emergency rations are homemade or store bought; the point is that when you are running late and haven't packed yourself a work lunch, or when kids' activities keep you out of the house until 15 minutes before dinner, you need something to fall back on to prevent you from wasting your money on unintended restaurant meals.</p> <h2>2. Cubes of&hellip; Everything</h2> <p>Don't waste left-over coffee, tomato paste, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-wont-believe-how-much-you-can-save-with-an-ice-cube-tray">even champagne</a> &mdash; just empty it into an ice cube tray, then later pop out the cubes and store in a labeled freezer bag. Go past the obvious&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-cool-things-you-can-make-with-an-ice-cube-tray">uses for ice cube trays</a> &mdash; try preserving fresh herbs or making ready-to-bake cookies.</p> <h2>3. Raw Meat</h2> <p>If you're a carnivore, there is no more versatile meal base than a one-pound package of ground meat. Defrost it in the microwave, and you're ready to make a casserole, chili con carne, or so many other recipes.</p> <p>My grocery store marks down meat by 30%-50% close to its expiration date, so I generally have three or four packages of discounted meat in my freezer. Some Costco shoppers repackage the warehouse store's mammoth meat portions into meal-sized freezer bags. Some clever folks even pour marinade into their frozen meat bags. On the rare occasion that I find a BOGO sale on whole chickens, I'll chuck a whole bird in the freezer &mdash; just keep in mind that these take a lot longer to defrost than small portions of cut-up meat.</p> <h2>4. Cooked, Chopped Meat</h2> <p>Even if you don't go all-in for &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-five-day-freeze-batch-cooking-for-the-rest-of-us">freezer cooking</a>&quot; or &quot;once a month cooking,&quot; having a pound of cooked, chopped up beef, pork, or chicken ready to defrost can cut 20 minutes or more off meal prep time.</p> <h2>5. Fish</h2> <p>Although fish can be on the expensive side, a lot of wild fish is really good for you. And it <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-surprising-cooking-hacks-that-save-time">cooks quickly</a>&nbsp;from a frozen state, making for a great weeknight dinner with no pre-planning needed.</p> <h2>6. A Whole Turkey</h2> <p>When turkey prices dip below a dollar a pound at Thanksgiving, why buy just one? I always buy at least one spare, depending on freezer space, for a future family feast with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tasty-ideas-for-leftover-turkey">lots of leftovers</a>.</p> <h2>7. A Whole Cow</h2> <p>Okay, you're not going to fit a steer into the freezer over your refrigerator. However, if you are feeding a family of carnivores, and especially if you prefer grass-fed or organic meat, consider <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-enough-on-meat-to-buy-a-chest-freezer">purchasing a whole cow</a>&nbsp;directly from a ranch, or splitting one with another household. You may have to buy a chest freezer, but you can save a lot this way.</p> <h2>8. Cooked Beans</h2> <p>You can save money over canned beans by soaking and boiling your own. But who wants to do that every time they make chili? I soak a whole pound of beans at once, cook it all up in the slow cooker overnight, then use a cup or two for dinner while freezing the rest in meal-sized portions.</p> <h2>9. Cooked Rice</h2> <p>We like brown rice, for which restaurants often charge more. So when we order Asian takeout, we'll skip ordering rice and make our own. To be honest, I don't see defrosting frozen rice as much less work than cooking a fresh pot &mdash; but if you forget to start rice before the doorbell rings with your food, having a bag or two in the freezer that you can quickly microwave is a savoir.</p> <h2>10. Old Bread</h2> <p>A lot of recipes, like meatloaf, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-uses-for-stale-bread">call for breadcrumbs</a>; others, like strata or stuffing, call for cubed bread. I never have to buy bread crumbs, because every time I have a slice or two that has been sitting around too long, I add it to the large bread bag in the freezer. When I need crumbs, I throw some in the food processor.</p> <h2>11. Bags of Frozen Vegetables</h2> <p>When the grocery store has a deal on frozen veg, stock up. Even if you prefer fresh produce, this way you'll never be stuck eating a meal with no greens. My favorite veggie to keep in the freezer is peas, because I can reach in for just a handful every time I make a salad, and they'll defrost on their own while I chop the fresh veggies. Other Wise Bread writers have lots of recipe ideas for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-tasty-ways-to-use-frozen-spinach">frozen spinach</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-delicious-ways-to-prepare-frozen-broccoli">frozen broccoli</a>.</p> <h2>12. Bags of Frozen Fruit</h2> <p>Frozen berries or mango pieces are great to have on hand &mdash; they're so much less work than washing and cutting up fresh, and when making smoothies, they can substitute for ice. If you have an orchard or garden, of course, freezing your own fruit is even more frugal than buying it.</p> <h2>13. Milk</h2> <p>If you are going out of town, you don't want to leave an opened container of milk in the fridge to go bad. But you don't have pour it down the drain, either. Pop the whole carton into the freezer if you have room, or decant it into a smaller container, or even save a leftover ounce in an ice cube tray. Perfect if you take your coffee with milk.</p> <h2>14. Butter</h2> <p>Running out of butter can be a real recipe killer, so even if it didn't save me any money I would keep a pound or two on ice. This stuff tends to go on sale around the holidays; buy multiple pounds then and you'll be set for a few months.</p> <h2>15. Bacon Grease</h2> <p>Now that <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/05/02/151868208/lard-is-back-in-the-larder-but-hold-the-health-claims">cooking with lard</a>, chicken schmaltz, and other animal fats is coming back into vogue, I've started saving my bacon grease and other drippings for cooking, just like my mom did. If you're not going to use them up quickly, you can always stash them in the freezer.</p> <h2>16. Homemade Stock</h2> <p>When you're a guest at Thanksgiving dinner, others might think it's weird if you ask to take home the turkey carcass. Do it anyway. You can boil those bones to make cups and cups of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-ways-to-use-chicken-stock">delicious stock</a>, the base of future soups, stews, and recipes you never even thought of. Once you've made your stock, pour it into containers or bags, label and freeze.</p> <h2>17. Stock Ingredients</h2> <p>Not every day is Thanksgiving (thank goodness for our waistlines). You might not feel like making stock out of the carcass of a small chicken or even from leftover rotisserie bones, but you still shouldn't throw them away. I keep two large bags in my freezer: one labeled &quot;carcasses,&quot; and one labeled &quot;veggie scraps.&quot; All unused chicken parts go in the first bag, and broccoli stalks, carrot scrapings, and other unused bits of plants go in the second. When they start to bulge, I pour everything into a stockpot, add a bay leaf and some spices, cover with water, and voila! Stock. (By the way, my stock never seems to suffer from having been made from frozen ingredients, then refrozen when complete. Stock is forgiving.)</p> <h2>18. Freezer Pops</h2> <p>They may not keep your kids from wanting the ice cream truck's treats (for my kids, nothing does that), but <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chill-out-with-these-6-simple-diy-freezer-treats">homemade pops</a> are an affordable summer treat that can even be healthy, depending on the ingredients.</p> <p><em>What do you keep in your freezer?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-frugal-foods-you-should-always-have-in-your-freezer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-pantry-foods-that-keep-longer-than-you-think">18 Pantry Foods That Keep Longer Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods">9 Cheap and Healthy Filler Foods</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests">Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-preparedness-for-your-freezer">Emergency Preparedness For Your Freezer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink freezer pantry Tue, 17 Feb 2015 12:00:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1289855 at http://www.wisebread.com The 10 Most Versatile Foods in Your Pantry http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-hardest-working-foods-in-your-pantry <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-hardest-working-foods-in-your-pantry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000008126561_Large.jpg" alt="lentils wooden spoon" title="lentils wooden spoon" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Looking to streamline your pantry? You can assemble quite a stock of simple staples that will make countless meals on a dime. I've done the hard work by identifying the ingredients you need to maximize your options &mdash; now put these 10 foods on your grocery list and start cooking!</p> <h2>1. Eggs</h2> <p>I don't know about you, but eggs are a huge hit in our house &mdash; and you can cook them easily in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-make-perfectly-cooked-eggs">five different ways</a>. (Six, if you count omelets!) We scramble or fry them as the main protein with breakfast. Poach and sit over asparagus for dinner. Every other week, I hard boil a dozen for quick snacks or use in egg salad sandwiches. And, yes, I even soft boil them on occasion for a fancy brunch item.</p> <h2>2. Rice</h2> <p>We also couldn't live without rice. We usually keep brown rice around, but you can use most any kind in soups and stews. On its own, rice is a strong side for a multitude of dishes from stir-fries to burritos to baked fish. Heck, you can even make <a href="http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/grandma-s-rice-pudding">dessert using rice</a> by mixing cooked leftovers with spices, milk, raisins, and eggs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-new-ways-to-spice-up-rice?ref=seealso">25 New Ways to Spice up Rice</a>)</p> <h2>3. Bananas</h2> <p>When I was vegan, I learned many tricks for using price-friendly bananas in new ways. Aside from eating them plain (or maybe with some peanut butter), bananas give my smoothies the dreamiest texture along with a dose of potassium. Have you ever thought to make a <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2010/05/scrambled-banana-sandwich.html">banana scramble sandwich</a>? It's delicious, I promise you. Freeze slices of bananas on a cookie sheet and then blend in a food processor for a quick, dairy-free soft serve dessert. They also make a great egg substitute in most baked goods &mdash; just mash 1/4 cup of ripe banana well to replace one large egg.</p> <h2>4. Potatoes</h2> <p>I had a habit of bringing a sweet potato to lunch with me when I worked my last desk job. I learned how to cook it in the microwave by punching holes in it with a fork, zapping on high for a few minutes, and then flipping to cook a few minutes more. I'd slice and load with Greek yogurt, and pile in other toppings for a healthy lunch. And that's just one of the jillion options for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/45-special-sweet-potato-dishes">cooking sweet potatoes</a>. You can also make potato pancakes, cook up hash browns, slice into fries, boil, and chop into soups and stews.</p> <h2>5. Beans and Lentils</h2> <p>Whether dried or canned, beans are a vegetarian's best friend. Even if you eat meat, beans (and lentils!) can be a wonderful complete protein to stock in your cupboard. It took me a long time to figure out how to <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2014/07/how-to-soak-cook-dried-beans.html">cook dry beans</a> from scratch, but I'm so glad I learned the method. The trick is letting them soak overnight before simmering in your pot. Beans and lentils go well in slow cooker recipes, veggie burgers, warm and cold salads, dips and spreads (like hummus) &mdash; just to name a few.</p> <h2>6. Garlic and Onions</h2> <p>Flavor is big no matter what meal you're cooking, so keep a few garlic bulbs and onions in your kitchen at all times. Pretty much every savory recipe you'll ever cook up will require these two ingredients, and &mdash; without them &mdash; your resulting meal could be quite bland. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-great-uses-for-onions?ref=seealso">10 Great Uses for Onions</a>)</p> <h2>7. Rolled Oats</h2> <p>We eat oats for breakfast almost every morning. It can get boring at times, so when I found myself with an excess of oats on our last break, I started making flour with them by pulverizing dry oats in my food processor. From there, I made <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2014/09/gf-oatmeal-raisin-pb-chocolate-chippers.html">chocolate chip cookies</a>, pancakes, and other baked goods that were outrageously good. I also use uncooked rolled oats to bulk up veggie burger recipes, veggie loaves, and add filling power to my smoothies. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-eat-oats-when-you-hate-oatmeal?ref=seealso">11 Ways to Eat Oats When You Hate Oatmeal</a>)</p> <h2>8. Frozen Vegetables</h2> <p>In the winter months, I have trouble keeping up with produce. So, I often fill my freezer with local and store-bought frozen veggies of all varieties. I especially like stir-fry mixes that pour out of the bag and onto the pan for 10-minute meals. (Just add a protein on the side and maybe some rice for a complete meal.) One of my other favorites, chopped frozen spinach, can be tossed into smoothies, burritos, dips, pizza crusts, and the list goes on. Bonus: Less food waste! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-tasty-ways-to-use-frozen-spinach?ref=seealso">35 Tasty Ways to Use Frozen Spinach</a>)</p> <h2>9. Peanut Butter</h2> <p>I know most of us think of the standard PB&amp;J sandwich when we pick up peanut butter. I use peanut butter in cookies, on my morning oatmeal, and even as a base for tasty sauces. For example, you can take frozen veggie stir-fries from blah to amazing with this <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/the-best-thai-peanut-sauce/">Thai peanut sauce</a> that combines peanut butter with coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, and other spices. Oh, and you can even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-delicious-and-cheap-nut-butter-recipes-to-make-at-home">make your own peanut butter</a> to your specifications.</p> <h2>10. All Purpose Flour</h2> <p>And then there's flour. Over the years, I've slowly started baking almost all the bread we consume. That might sound crazy, but it's mostly <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-beginners-guide-to-homemade-bread">mixing, rising, and then baking</a>, and eating or freezing. Sliced bread is just one example of what flour will give you the power to create. Think about all the homemade pizza, dinner and hamburger rolls, pastas, muffins, and various other cookies, cakes, pies, and other treats you can bake up. Don't forget to pick up a packet of yeast.</p> <p><em>Any small pantry staples I've overlooked? Please share your favorites in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-hardest-working-foods-in-your-pantry">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big">9 Pantry Tricks That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-pantry-foods-that-keep-longer-than-you-think">18 Pantry Foods That Keep Longer Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-in-your-pantry-that-dont-last-as-long-as-you-think">10 Things in Your Pantry That Don&#039;t Last as Long as You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-unusual-but-necessary-staples-to-add-to-your-pantry">12 Unusual (But Necessary!) Staples to Add to Your Pantry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink food storage pantry Staples Fri, 26 Dec 2014 16:00:15 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1272040 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Things in Your Pantry That Don't Last as Long as You Think http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-in-your-pantry-that-dont-last-as-long-as-you-think <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-in-your-pantry-that-dont-last-as-long-as-you-think" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/pantry-food-Dollarphotoclub_34705108.jpg" alt="pantry food" title="pantry food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's kind of a general assumption that &quot;non-perishable&quot; food means that it'll last forever. That's far from accurate, however, and if you're not careful, consuming out-of-date or spoiled pantry items means your meals won't be as nutritious or flavorful as they might be &mdash; and you could be risking your health. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-eat-this-a-quick-guide-to-expiration-dates-and-food-safety?ref=seealso">Can I Eat This? A Quick Guide to Expiration Dates</a>)</p> <p>How do you know which staples are susceptible? Here's a list of 10 common cupboard items to keep an eye on.</p> <h2>1. Tea</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/tazo%20tea.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Tea has plenty of health benefits &mdash; like giving you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/drink-your-tea-types-health-benefits-and-how-to-brew-a-perfect-cup">more energy to exercise and reducing the risk of heart attack</a> &mdash; but only if it's stored properly.</p> <p>&quot;<a href="http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/food-safety-how-tell-when-food-spoiled">Antioxidants decrease an average of 32%</a> after 6 months on the shelf, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Food Science,&quot; reports Prevention.com. &quot;These antioxidants, known as catechins, may decrease your risk of several types of cancer, but they are sensitive to both oxygen and light. Sadly, tea, unlike wine, does not improve with age.&quot;</p> <p>To maximize tea's efficacy, store in a sealed container in the fridge.</p> <h2>2. Spam</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/spam%20can.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>If you're stocking up on food to ride out the impending zombie-pocalypse, Spam is a great option to fortify your nutritional reserves. Yeah, nutrition and Spam is an oxymoron, but when there's very little food left on the planet, whatever you have is nutritious. You just better hope the crisis is over in less than 17 years &mdash; because that's when non-perishables of even maximum strength preservative power start to throw in the towel.</p> <p>&quot;I'm far from a food expert, but my wife and I bought a can of Spam in 1997 thinking that it would last forever,&quot; admits Dr. Dave Popple, president of a leadership development firm. &quot;This year it split one of the seams [because] it was so bloated. Now I can say our love has lasted longer than a can of Spam.&quot;</p> <p>Let's hope it lasts longer than the zombie-pocalypse too. Or just check the &quot;<a href="http://www.spam.com/spam-101/what-is-the-shelf-life-of-spam-products">Best by</a>&quot; date on the bottom of the can before opening the can.</p> <h2>3. Canned Ham and Seafood</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/canned%20tuna.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>I didn't call eww on Spam, but I am calling super yuck on canned ham and seafood. There's just something about meat in a four-year-old metal cylinder that's completely unappetizing. To each his own, I guess &mdash; but if you've been letting next year's holiday feast-in-a-tin sit in your pantry, prepare to spend Christmas getting your stomach pumped.</p> <p>Madison Kotack, digital marketing manager at <a href="http://www.mealkitsupply.com">Meal Kit Supply</a>, warns, &quot;Some canned hams and seafoods cannot be stored at room temperature, as many people might assume.&quot;</p> <h2>4. High-Acid Canned Goods</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/canned%20fruit%20vegetables.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Kotack also weighs in on high-acid canned goods like tomatoes. &quot;Canned tomatoes only last 12 to 18 months, while many assume the full 2 to 5 years of standard canned foods,&quot; she says. &quot;High-acid foods contain natural chemicals that continually corrode the container, which can alter the taste, texture, and nutritional value of the food over a long period of time.&quot;</p> <p>To avoid ingesting a potentially dangerous product, always check the expiration date before opening.</p> <h2>5. Dried Herbs and Ground Spices</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/dried%20herbs.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>I know what you're thinking &mdash; how can dried herbs and spices possibly go bad? It's not so much that they actually go bad, per se, but they don't pack as much of a punch after a while. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-store-herbs-to-make-them-last-longer-and-taste-better?ref=seealso">How to Store Herbs to Make Them Last Longer and Taste Fresher</a>)</p> <p>&quot;Herbs and spices don't last as long as you think,&quot; says Lisa Wells, a blogger at Cook Eat Paleo. &quot;They lose their flavor and color over time and should be replaced. Dried herbs will last one to three years, but if they start to lose their scent that's a good indication that the flavor will be weak. Ground spices should be used within six to nine months for maximum flavor.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Whole Grain Flour, Nuts, and Seeds</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/nuts%20jar.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>If you're not a fan of pancakes that taste like turpentine, keep an eye on your whole grain flour along with any nuts and seeds you keep in the pantry.</p> <p>&quot;People think that whole grain flour and nuts and seeds last forever, but the natural oils in these go rancid quickly,&quot; explains Dr. Sharon Palmer, author of <a href="http://www.sharonpalmer.com/">Plant-Powered for Life</a>. &quot;This not only makes these products taste awful &mdash; that familiar paint thinner flavor and odor &mdash; and it's not a healthy habit to eat oxidized, rancid food.&quot;</p> <p>As an alternative to the pantry, Dr. Palmer recommends storing these items in the freezer.</p> <h2>7. Potatoes</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/potatoes.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>A lot of people think that potatoes are still consumable as long as they don't have &quot;eyes,&quot; and even then I bet a good portion of those people just pick them off and prepare the potatoes anyway. Unfortunately, that's not a very smart way to eat your starches.</p> <p>In the pantry, potatoes last only one to two weeks at room temperature, according to <a href="http://www.stilltasty.com/">StillTasty.com</a>, but anywhere from two to three months when stored in a cooler dark area (45 to 55 degrees). That doesn't mean you should refrigerate your potatoes, however. Refrigeration can give the spuds a sweet taste and cause them to darken when cooked. Prepare the potatoes and freeze them, and they're good to go for up to a year.</p> <p>The site also advises to store the potatoes in a loosely covered sack or basket to allow for air circulation. Keep them away from onions, too, as the chemical reaction between the two will speed up the spoilage process.</p> <h2>8. Brown Rice</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/brown%20rice.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>While brown rice lasts a good six to eight months in the pantry, that's not always a foolproof way to ensure that it's consumable, mainly because you don't know how long it sat on the shelf before you bought it. Thus:</p> <ul> <li>If it has a sour smell, like rancid oil, it's bad;</li> <li>If it's dusty or oily, it's bad;</li> <li>If it contains mold, bugs, insect eggs, or other &quot;things&quot; in it (which is a real possibility; I'm not making this up), it's reeeeally bad.</li> </ul> <p>And if that's not enough to make you want to run for sheriff of the Brown Rice Police Department, let holistic health coach Wendy Kuhn impart her wisdom upon you:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">&quot;Until this fall, I talked about how if you had healthy choices available in your pantry all of the time, it makes it easier to pull together healthy meals at the last minute,&quot; she says. &quot;I still believe that, but my timeline and quantities have changed significantly after a horrendous pantry moth invasion. The moths started in my brown rice and expanded to virtually all of my food products (except for canned goods). Not only did I have to throw out hundreds of dollars worth of food, but getting rid of them non-toxically was a huge and time-consuming challenge.&quot;</p> <p>Now, before you run to the pantry and throw out all your food, here are ways to prevent this nightmarish invasion from happening to you.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">&quot;First, store food (whether it comes in boxes, plastic bag or sealed packages) in sealed glass containers,&quot; Kuhn advises. &quot;This moves people away from storing in plastic, which, especially as a breast cancer survivor, is a practice that I think is a good thing. Secondly, I have become a proponent of buying what you need. I no longer buy huge quantities of grains, but only enough for a few meals. The upside of this is that shopping for these essentials more often also means buying fresh produce more frequently, which is always a good thing. My point is, even though you think grains, cereals, flour, mixes, and other foods last forever, the pantry moths love them just a little bit too much and, trust me, it is not worth it.&quot;</p> <p>Alas, nothing can get rid of that phantom itch you have all over your body right now. You're welcome.</p> <h2>9. Cereal</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/cereal.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Your favorite breakfast cereal doesn't exactly spoil, but I'm sure you've noticed in the past that it's gotten stale. It's not immune to everyday elements, and it'll start <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/10/shelf-life-pantry-foods-_n_3248107.html">losing its texture and flavor</a> about three to four months after its been opened. (But let's be honest with ourselves here; those Fruity Pebbles don't last long in your house.) To extend cereal's shelf life, keep the box well covered so it stays crisper, longer.</p> <h2>10. Coffee</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/coffee%20bean%20cup.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>You don't have to worry about any nefarious living organisms infiltrating your coffee, but the pick-me-up does start to lose its flavor after a week or two in the pantry. Stash it in the fridge to preserve its full strength (and to keep the coffee thieves at bay).</p> <p><em>Do you know of other pantry staples to that don't last as long as we think they do? Let us know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-in-your-pantry-that-dont-last-as-long-as-you-think">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stop-the-takeout-meal-cycle-and-save">How to Stop the Takeout Meal Cycle and Save</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-food-changes-you-can-make-today">25 Frugal Food Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-easiest-food-budget-wins">The 9 Easiest Food Budget Wins</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-pantry-foods-that-keep-longer-than-you-think">18 Pantry Foods That Keep Longer Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-unusual-but-necessary-staples-to-add-to-your-pantry">12 Unusual (But Necessary!) Staples to Add to Your Pantry</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping expiration dates food waste pantry shelf life Staples Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:00:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1269733 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Unusual (But Necessary!) Staples to Add to Your Pantry http://www.wisebread.com/12-unusual-but-necessary-staples-to-add-to-your-pantry <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-unusual-but-necessary-staples-to-add-to-your-pantry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/basmati-rice-Dollarphotoclub_71655424.jpg" alt="basmati rice" title="basmati rice" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've ever seen a basic household organizer, it usually comes with a basic shopping list for pantry staples and other grocery items to keep on hand at all times. These are usually very simple items that a household of any size, background, or dietary preference will share in common.</p> <p>What can make or break a delicious meal, evening of entertainment, or delicious treat, however, is the not-so-ordinary ingredient. Recipes won't be the same without them, and they should have a place in all cupboards and fridges. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-herbs-and-spices-every-pantry-should-have?ref=seealso">The 12 Herbs and Spices Every Pantry Should Have</a>)</p> <p>Here's the list of rarely mentioned, super important items I keep on hand at all times.</p> <h2>1. Capers</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/capers-Dollarphotoclub_58098928.jpg" /></p> <p>These salty little garnishes are actually the buds of flowers. They taste amazing in dishes that use lemon-cream sauces, and can <a href="http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chicken_cutlets_with_caper_sauce/">take a cutlet</a> from &quot;ho-hum&quot; to &quot;how did you do it?&quot; One tiny jar can last quite a long time after opening, provided you keep it in the fridge.</p> <h2>2. Artichoke Heart Quarters</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/artichoke-hearts-Dollarphotoclub_65853299.jpg" /></p> <p>Drain them and add to salads, a relish tray, or a pizza. I can't think of a cheesy dip that won't be even better with these as an ingredients; try them in spinach dip, for example.</p> <h2>3. Maraschino Cherries</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/maraschino-cherries-Dollarphotoclub_61777837.jpg" /></p> <p>Even tea-totalers will enjoy dropping one or two of these into their mixed drinks. They make a sundae special and add flavor to cookies and cakes.</p> <h2>4. Panko</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/panko-bread-crumbs-Dollarphotoclub_52379396.jpg" /></p> <p>These super-crunchy bread crumbs are all you need for perfectly crispy homemade chicken strips, fish sticks, breaded stir-fry meats, and crunchy appetizers. Since they are light and golden brown, you can ensure that your finished foods won't be soggy or bland.</p> <h2>5. Ramen Noodles</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/ramen-noodles-Dollarphotoclub_73258017.jpg" /></p> <p>This quick-to-prepare pasta is a brilliant way to serve any Asian-inspired stir-fry or meat. It takes less time than rice, and can be tossed into sauces (minus the seasoning packet) for a fun noodle experience.</p> <h2>6. Dried Lemongrass</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/dried-lemongrass-Dollarphotoclub_35829593.jpg" /></p> <p>One jar in your spice cupboard can go a long way to amp up dishes and add dimension to new Thai flavored recipes.</p> <h2>7. Shallots</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/shallots-Dollarphotoclub_67109052.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>These beautiful greens look like big green onions, and taste a bit like a cross between a very mild onion and garlic. Dice them up for a pleasant addition to potato soups, or substitute them for cooked white onions in most any dish.</p> <h2>8. Coconut Oil</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/coconut-oil-Dollarphotoclub_66015418.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>While the health benefits of substituting this oil are becoming pretty well known, it's also a very useful beauty product to keep on hand. What other ingredient can be used to lightly fry tortillas for tacos and also be used as a <a href="http://www.babycenter.com/0_african-american-babies-hair-care_10330036.bc">leave-in conditioner</a> for baby's hair?</p> <h2>9. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/chickpeas-Dollarphotoclub_59083965.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>This crunchy &quot;nut&quot; is actually a bean, and it makes a perfect topping for chef salads. You can also <a href="http://www.lillepunkin.com/2014/07/back-to-school-snack-recipe-crunchy.html">try roasting them</a> for a savory, crunchy alternative to packaged products like Corn-Nuts.</p> <h2>10. Ladyfingers</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/ladyfingers-Dollarphotoclub_63026039.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>These sort-of sweet cookies are the stuff tiramisu is literally made of. Use them as a layering ingredients between puddings and fruits; you'll have an amazingly <a href="http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/strawberry-tiramisu-trifle">simple trifle</a> to delight your guests with!</p> <h2>11. Basmati Rice</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/basmati-rice-Dollarphotoclub_71655424.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Forget the &quot;minute rice&quot; or even plain boring white rice, and enjoy this fragrant version readily available at most grocery stores. The texture and flavor are subtly superior to the rice most of us are used to, making your common rice recipes feel special each and every time you prepare them!</p> <h2>12. Blue Corn Chips</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/blue-corn-chips-Dollarphotoclub_62538690.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>These are now available by many snack food brands, and they add wonderful color to your party spread without any additional effort. Mix them in with regular corn tortillas or just serve them alone. I find them to be pleasantly &quot;nuttier&quot; tasting.</p> <p>While everyone will have their own special ingredients, playing with new ones can broaden your horizons and add new experiences to your lunches and dinners.</p> <p><em>Which one of the ingredients above will you start using first?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-unusual-but-necessary-staples-to-add-to-your-pantry">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-10-simple-swaps-will-make-your-baking-so-much-better">These 10 Simple Swaps Will Make Your Baking So Much Better</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-in-your-pantry-that-dont-last-as-long-as-you-think">10 Things in Your Pantry That Don&#039;t Last as Long as You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-hardest-working-foods-in-your-pantry">The 10 Most Versatile Foods in Your Pantry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-simple-kitchen-skills-every-frugal-person-should-master">16 Simple Kitchen Skills Every Frugal Person Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-delicious-and-frugal-power-bowls-you-want-right-now">10 Delicious and Frugal Power Bowls You Want Right Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink ingredients pantry recipes Staples Wed, 10 Dec 2014 22:00:07 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1265976 at http://www.wisebread.com 18 Pantry Foods That Keep Longer Than You Think http://www.wisebread.com/18-pantry-foods-that-keep-longer-than-you-think <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/18-pantry-foods-that-keep-longer-than-you-think" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/pantry-458145953-small.jpg" alt="pantry" title="pantry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a big difference between the &quot;use-by&quot; and &quot;sell-by&quot; dates on a bottle of ketchup.</p> <p>Americans in particular are notorious for throwing out perfectly good eats, a habit that has recently given life to <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/the-daily-table-sells-expired-food-2013-10">a grocery store of expired foods</a>, that are still safe to eat. And while it's pretty easy to detect fresh milk from sour milk, it can be tricky to discern the difference when it comes to condiments and other dry goods. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youre-wasting-13-of-the-food-you-buy-heres-how-to-stop?ref=seealso">You're Wasting One-Third of the Food You Buy</a>)</p> <p>Tricky, but not rocket science. So we've figured it out for you. (We recommend printing this comprehensive guide to freshness and keeping it in the pantry, right next to the Worcestershire sauce.)</p> <h2>Coffee Beans</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/coffee%20beans.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>When it comes to coffee beans, air is the enemy of flavor and freshness. So you'll want to store your beans in an air-tight container. Even so, <a href="http://www.ncausa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=70">coffee beans are best within the first one to two weeks</a> after purchase. They won't ever go bad, but they will slowly grow stale and lose their boldness.</p> <h2>Honey</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/honey%20jar.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Like coffee beans, honey never spoils. But it loses its perfectly goupy consistency when it's not stored at room temperature.</p> <p>Honey stored at cooler temperatures will sometimes crystallize, <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881461301546X">a natural chemical process</a> that is no cause for alarm. In fact, crystallized honey tastes just as delicious. But if you want to revert it back to goupy goodness, simply run the container under warm water or relocate it to a warmer part of the house.</p> <h2>Maple Syrup</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/maple%20syrup.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>A sealed canister of maple syrup will last <a href="http://andersonsmaplesyrup.com/files/MapleSyrupStorageRetail.pdf">up to two years in the pantry</a> before discoloration begins to take hold. Even still, syrup can last on the shelf this way for up to four years without much flavor adulteration. Once unsealed, maple syrup will stay fresh for several months in the refrigerator.</p> <p>Syrup bottled in glass stays fresher longer than syrup kept in plastic containers. So if you make pancakes once in a blue moon, it's probably better to buy syrup that's packaged in glass.</p> <h2>Pasta</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/tri%20color%20pasta.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>When stored at room temperature in <a href="https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/information_center/storage_life_of_foods.htm#link12">an air-tight container</a>, dry pasta can retain freshness for eight to 10 years. Pasta stored at warmer temperatures or in containers that are not air-tight will last up to two years. After that, you'll be stuck with stale-tasting fettuccine alfredo.</p> <h2>Nuts</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/peanuts.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Nuts are <a href="https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/information_center/storage_life_of_foods.htm#link12">chock-full of oil</a>, which causes them to go rancid after four to 12 months on the shelf. Hazelnuts and pistachios fall on the lower end of that spectrum while almonds and brazil nuts land on the higher end. Falling somewhere in the middle, around four to seven months, are cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts.</p> <p>The only exceptions are pine nuts, which have a shelf life of about two months, and pistachios, which stay fresh for about three months.</p> <h2>Peanut Butter</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/peanut%20butter.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>A sealed jar of peanut butter has a shelf life of two years. But once the seal is broken, it'll only last about three to six months &mdash; depending on the brand. All-natural spreads tend to last longer, while <a href="http://www.jif.com/jif-faq">processed spreads like Jif</a> and Peter Pan perish more quickly.</p> <h2>Bread Crumbs</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/bread%20crumbs.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>A sealed package of dried bread crumbs will last two years in the refrigerator or up to six months when stored in <a href="http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5401.pdf">a cool, dry place</a>.</p> <h2>Flour</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/flour.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Flour can last up to five years when stored at room temperature in an air-tight container. But opened flour packages only have a shelf life of about a year.</p> <p>Ditto that for all other food products made of cracked or ground seed, such as all cornmeal, cracked wheat, germade, and gluten. Same rules also apply to refried beans and wheat flakes.</p> <h2>Sugar</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/sugar.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Sugar will last indefinitely when kept sealed away from moisture.</p> <h2>Salt</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/salt%20shakers.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Salt will never perish so long as it is stored in a dry place.</p> <h2>Spices</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/spices.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Whole spices have a shelf life of two years. Dried or ground spices stay fresh half that time. All spices should be stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight. That means don't store your spices near the stovetop or toaster oven. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-store-herbs-to-make-them-last-longer-and-taste-better?ref=seealso">How to Store Herbs to Make Them Last Longer and Taste Better</a>)</p> <h2>Oils</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/cooking%20oils.jpg" /></p> <p>Canola, corn, peanut, and vegetable oil should be stored in the pantry, while sesame and walnut oil <a href="http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5401.pdf">should be refrigerated</a>. All of these oils will stay fresh up to six months after opening.</p> <h2>Ketchup</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/ketchup.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>An unopened bottle of ketchup has a shelf life of about 15 months. <a href="http://www.heinzketchup.com/faq.aspx">Once that seal is popped</a>, its life shortens to about six months when stored in the refrigerator. Same rules apply to barbecue sauce.</p> <h2>Mayonnaise</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/mayo.jpg" /></p> <p>An unopened jar of mayo will stay fresh on the pantry shelf for two to three months. It will last another two to three months if it's refrigerated after opening.</p> <h2>Mustard</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/mustard.jpg" /></p> <p>An unopened container of mustard has a shelf life of two years. Once that seal is popped, mustard will last six to eight more months when refrigerated.</p> <h2>Rice</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/rice.jpg" /></p> <p>White rice has a shelf life of eight to 10 years. Brown rice, on the other hand, is full of oils that go rancid as they oxidize, which is why it has a shelf life of only six months &mdash; though it can last up to two years when stored in an air-tight container.</p> <h2>Beans</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/red%20beans.jpg" /></p> <p>Beans of all types have a shelf life of eight to 10 years when stored at room temperature.</p> <h2>Dehydrated Fruit</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/dried%20fruit.jpg" /></p> <p>Dried fruit such as raisins will stay tasty and fresh for up to five years when stored in a cool dry place. It's also best to keep them out of direct light, which speeds up the perishing process.</p> <p><em>How often do you check your pantry items for freshness?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-pantry-foods-that-keep-longer-than-you-think">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big">9 Pantry Tricks That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-in-your-pantry-that-dont-last-as-long-as-you-think">10 Things in Your Pantry That Don&#039;t Last as Long as You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-hardest-working-foods-in-your-pantry">The 10 Most Versatile Foods in Your Pantry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-are-sabotaging-your-weekly-grocery-budget">9 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Weekly Grocery Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink food storage fresh food pantry sell-by shelf life stale food use-by Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:00:03 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1192002 at http://www.wisebread.com The 12 Herbs and Spices Every Pantry Should Have http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-herbs-and-spices-every-pantry-should-have <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-12-herbs-and-spices-every-pantry-should-have" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cooking-herbs-spices-147834466-small.jpg" alt="cooking herbs spices" title="cooking herbs spices" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Maybe you received a spice rack as a wedding gift. Perhaps you found a bunch of basil and cilantro in your latest CSA basket. Or possibly you're just looking to make healthier, low-calorie foods with fuller flavors on the cheap. Cooking with herbs and spices is certainly a skill even novice home cooks should take some time to master.</p> <p>And summer is the perfect to bulk up on these robust ingredients &mdash; and more &mdash; while they are fresh and, therefore, less expensive. You may also find unusual varieties at the farmer's market, which can mean unique dishes for your friends and family to enjoy. If you'd like to dry your own herbs for later use, there are <a href="http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/how-to-dry-herbs-recipe.html">a few methods</a> you can employ, including tying in bunches, hanging upside down until fully dehydrated, and then storing in airtight containers. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preserving-in-season-foods-for-off-season-feasts?ref=related">Preserving In-Season Foods for Off-Season Feasts</a>)</p> <p>Here's the lowdown on 12 herb and spice rack favorites I use most in my own cooking, as well as some tips on their use.</p> <h2>Allspice</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/allspice-488362375-small.jpg" /></p> <p>I used to think allspice was a manufactured mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves &mdash; but the flavors come from the unripe and dried berries of its own plant, the Jamaican pimento tree. As a result, it's often used in Caribbean cooking (think <a href="http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/12/learning-the-secrets-of-authentic-jerk-chicken-jamaica.html">jerk sauces</a>) or whenever a good dose of warm spice is required, from pumpkin pie and other holiday goodies to slow simmer tagine dinners. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-delicious-and-easy-one-pot-meals?ref=related">25 Delicious and Easy One-Pot Meals</a>)</p> <h2>Basil</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/basil-161764543-small.jpg" /></p> <p>Of all herbs, I love basil best. It's bountiful and cheap at market, and it grows easily in small container gardens at home. Basil also makes a mean, versatile pesto sauce, among other delicious dishes. In stir fries and other hot meals, it's best to tear fresh basil leaves over the dish to let wilt after cooking has completed. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-pesto-recipes-and-only-one-uses-basil?related=seealso">10 Easy Pesto Recipes (And Only One Uses Basil)</a>)</p> <h2>Black Pepper</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/black-peppercorn-166675454-small.jpg" /></p> <p>Most every recipe calls for a pinch of salt and dash of spicy black pepper. Cooks have been using peppercorns for ages whether during the actual cooking process itself or when the meal hits the table. If you can invest in a mill, grind whole peppercorns versus using standard black pepper for a more intense flavor.</p> <h2>Chives</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/chives-482412837-small.jpg" /></p> <p>I found a rogue patch of chives growing in my neglected garden this year. So, while the plant itself is quite hearty, so, too, are the dishes it works best with. I toss chives in omelets, mix with sour cream atop baked potatoes, flavor soups and stews, and mix into pasta and salads. The chive's garlic and onion flavors marry well with a wide variety of foods, so it's a safe herb to use in culinary experiments.</p> <h2>Cilantro</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/cilantro-482425237-small.jpg" /></p> <p>For salsas and guacamole recipes, fresh cilantro is my go-to herb. It also makes a vibrant garnish for a variety of ethnic dishes. Though there's no special rule, I tend to tear leaves off the stems before chopping for the best texture and flavor. Oh, and if you see coriander as an ingredient in your recipe, know this: They are the seeds from the very same plant.</p> <h2>Cinnamon</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/cinnamon-469820215-small.jpg" /></p> <p>Much like allspice, cinnamon is a warm, cozy flavor I tend to use most in the fall and winter months in my baking. All year, cinnamon makes a nice addition to curry dishes. Just be careful you're getting the real deal &mdash; cinnamon's cousin, <em>cassia</em>, is often sold in its place in the U.S. and <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/12/25/256602581/when-is-cinnamon-spice-not-so-nice-the-great-danish-debate">can be toxic to the liver</a> in large quantities in certain individuals. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-spices-fake?ref=related">Are Your Spices Fake</a>?)</p> <h2>Dill</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/dill-480559397-small.jpg" /></p> <p>The wispy, feathery texture of fresh dill leaves combine well into many flavorful foods. I like mixing them with soft cheeses, incorporating them into potato salads, garnishing fish, and sprinkling liberally onto deviled eggs. If you cannot find fresh dill, dried is an adequate substitute so long as you decrease the amount to account for drying. Think half or a third dry versus fresh.</p> <h2>Ginger</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/ginger-179235859-small.jpg" /></p> <p>Fresh ginger is as delicious as it is good for you. Its bright flavor blends nicely into fresh salad dressings and sauces. Whenever I mince fresh ginger, I squeeze the juices into my recipes rather than toss in the root itself. As for substituting fresh ginger with its ground counterpart, I've never had much luck. So, I like to keep some ginger root in my freezer &mdash; wrapped tightly in plastic &mdash; for emergencies.</p> <h2>Paprika</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/paprika-486169205-small.jpg" /></p> <p>We've reached my favorite spice on this list. Paprika, which is often used in Hungarian cuisine, makes its impact on most of my vegetarian meals in some way or another. There are a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paprika#Usage">number of varieties</a> of this spice, but what you'll find on most grocer's shelves is a mildly pungent, Noble Sweet. If you're looking for more complex flavor, pick up some smoked paprika &mdash; it goes beautifully in crock pot chili recipes. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-slow-cooker-recipes-for-busy-or-lazy-vegetarians">35 Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Vegetarians</a>)</p> <h2>Rosemary</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/rosemary-178573418-small.jpg" /></p> <p>Rosemary is certainly a good bet if you're cooking poultry. As a vegetarian, I use the aromatic herb to flavor breads and even tomato sauces. I recently infused some olive oil with fresh rosemary, and it's quite a treat. I took 1 cup extra virgin olive oil and a handful of rosemary sprigs and placed them in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove. After a few minutes, I transferred everything to a glass bottle and now store in my refrigerator for drizzling.</p> <h2>Sage</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/sage-466355993-small.jpg" /></p> <p>The fuzzy texture of sage leaves is, in a word, dreamy. And if you've ever closely examined the dried sage, it's similarly soft. This herb is often used in Mediterranean cuisine, so it's a good choice if you're making pasta dishes (gnocchi and ravioli come to mind) or even as a fat-free way to add flavor to meats. A little goes a long way, especially when using dry, so add slowly and taste often.</p> <h2>Thyme</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/thyme-492527155-small.jpg" /></p> <p>If you're keen on sage, thyme is a good partner in cooking. I use thyme often during the holidays to make vegetarian gravy (it tastes great with mushrooms) and otherwise to mix together delicious dressings like vinaigrettes. If you're using fresh thyme while making a soup or stew, it's a smart idea to tie a bunch together with some twine for easy removal before serving.</p> <p><em>Don't see your favorite on this list? What's herb or spice do you use most in cooking?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-herbs-and-spices-every-pantry-should-have">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-spices-fake">Are Your Spices Fake?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cutting-the-grocery-bill-reducing-the-cost-of-a-good-spice-rack">Cutting the Grocery Bill: Reducing the Cost of a Good Spice Rack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-diy-spice-storage-ideas">10 Smart DIY Spice Storage Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods">9 Cheap and Healthy Filler Foods</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink flavor herbs pantry spices Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1171610 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Cheap and Healthy Filler Foods http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/food-114335832_0.jpg" alt="chickpea salad" title="chickpea salad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you are like my family, you keep crackers or chips in your pantry to use as casserole toppings, serve with salsa, or add to soups. Though these foods are filling, their nutritional value is limited.</p> <p>However, there are other commonly available foods that can serve as fillers, helping to keep you satisfied while increasing the nutritional value of your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. These items are elegant additions to dishes that can stretch their number of servings without overdoing the calorie count. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-simple-canned-foods-that-go-the-distance">Canned Foods That Go the Distance</a>)</p> <p>Here are some cheap and healthy filler foods I keep in my kitchen.</p> <h2>1. Chickpeas</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-137302332-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Canned chickpeas are often available for a dollar if you purchase the house brand. They are easily stored in your pantry and ready at a moment&#39;s notice: open the can, rinse the beans, and drain.</p> <p>For a healthy addition to a snack or side dish:</p> <ul> <li>Add chickpeas to any type of salad, such as a <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/340683/greek-salad-with-chickpeas">Greek salad</a> or <a href="http://www.chow.com/recipes/30740-dill-chickpea-and-feta-pasta-salad">pasta salad</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add chickpeas to <a href="http://drbenkim.com/chickpea-leek-potato-soup-recipe.htm">potato soup</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Toss chickpeas in a potato-based dish like a <a href="http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2013/02/healthy-hash-brown-casserole.html">hash brown casserole</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Substitute chickpeas for tahini and add a bit of extra olive oil when making <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/spicy-hummus-quick-chickpea-spread-recipe/index.html">hummus</a></li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&amp;art_id=83091&amp;sc=3024">Chickpeas</a> (aka garbanzo beans) are a great source of protein, fiber, and iron.</p> <h2>2. Pasta</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-87736381-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>A 16-ounce package of pasta costs less than $2 and can keep for months in your pantry. Add dry pastas to dishes that will cook a while or use cooked pasta for quicker meals.</p> <p>To make a satisfying meal:</p> <ul> <li>Add dry pasta to <a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/healthy-alphabet-soup-112133">vegetable soups</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Toss cooked pasta with roasted veggies<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Make a <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/10-fridgeclearing-pasta-bakes-that-comfort-and-satisfy-recipes-from-the-kitchn-184598">casserole of whatever sauce, vegetables, and cheese</a> you have in your pantry</li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.healthline.com/health-blogs/diet-diva/benefits-pasta">Pasta</a> is a good source of B vitamins and iron. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-we-love-pasta-made-with-an-imperia-pasta-machine">Stuff We Love: Imperia Pasta Machine</a>)</p> <h2>3. Orange Vegetables</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-183439325-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Orange vegetables, such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes, are inexpensive (they cost between 50 cents to $2 per pound, depending on the season) and last a while in your cupboard.</p> <p>You can <a href="http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-roast-whole-butternut-squash-you.html">roast squash whole in the oven</a>; cut in half when done, remove seeds and strings, scoop and reserve the flesh for additions to various recipes. Sweet potatoes can be microwaved, baked, or boiled until done; cut sweet potatoes in half and remove flesh. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/71-sensational-sweet-potato-recipes">Sensational Sweet Potato Recipes</a>)</p> <p>To boost the flavor of your favorite foods:</p> <ul> <li>Add butternut squash to <a href="http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/10/25/butternut-squash-soup-recipe/">soups</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Substitute butternut squash for zucchini in a <a href="http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucchini_bread/">sweet bread recipe</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mix a small amount of an orange veggie (about one cup) into mixtures for bread, rolls, or pizza dough<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Stir sweet potatoes into <a href="http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/simple-ways-work-sweet-potatoes-diet-9534.html">tomato-based sauces</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add squash or sweet potatoes to a <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/eight-things-to-do-with-a-butt-128579">dip</a></li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.fitwatch.com/weight-loss/top-7-healthy-orange-fruits-and-vegetables-686.html">Orange vegetables</a> contain beta-carotene and other nutrients.</p> <h2>4. Peppers</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-cooking-vegetables-5089340-small-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Peppers of all kinds add flavor. Green peppers are generally the least expensive, at less than a dollar each, while red peppers may cost you a couple of bucks. Wash, remove seeds, and chop before adding to dishes.</p> <p>To increase the pizzazz of your meals:</p> <ul> <li>Saute peppers in butter or olive oil, and add to <a href="http://www.cookstepbystep.com/red_greenpepperomelet.html">omelets</a> and <a href="http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/cooking/ht/howtofrittata.htm">frittatas</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Toss raw on pizzas or inside tacos or tortillas, and prepare as usual.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Saute peppers and add to casserole dishes such as <a href="http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Baked-Spaghetti-Food-Network?columns=3&amp;position=2%2F45">baked spaghetti</a> or your favorite <a href="http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Chicken-Rice-Casserole-Recipe-Taste-of-Home-45033">chicken casserole</a>.</li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-peppers">Peppers</a> are loaded with nutrients, including vitamins A and C.</p> <h2>5. Black beans</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-152965416-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Like chickpeas, house-brand canned black beans may cost about a dollar. You can also buy dried black beans in a bag for a couple of bucks or about 25 cents per serving. Open a can, rinse, and drain; or soak dried beans, rinse, and cook until done. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-cheap-delicious-and-healthy-black-bean-recipes">Cheap, Delicious, and Healthy Black Bean Recipes</a>)</p> <p>To add richness to your meal while boosting its nutrition:</p> <ul> <li>Add black beans to tacos, tortillas, and nachos<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Toss black beans in a pot of chili or nearly any other type of soup<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add black beans to a <a href="http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2012/07/recipe-for-chicken-black-bean-and-red.html">chicken salad</a></li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/238506-black-bean-nutritional-facts/">Black beans</a> contain protein, carbohydrates, and fiber along with vitamins and minerals.</p> <h2>6. Kale</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-158461533-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>A bunch of kale in the fresh produce section often sells for less than $2 and large quantities of washed-and-bagged kale may go for just a few bucks.</p> <p>Kale can be bitter, so I typically add this ingredient to sweet stuff or saute in olive oil until it&#39;s delightfully crisp. You can also steam and chop in a food processor.</p> <p>To pack nutrition in your snacks and meals:</p> <ul> <li>Blend raw kale with <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/frozen-fruit-smoothies-recipe/index.html">fruit smoothies</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Toss sauted kale into pasta dishes made with pesto or tomato-based sauces<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add kale to egg dishes such as quiches, omelets, and frittatas<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use kale as a pizza topping</li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-kale">Kale</a> is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K.</p> <h2>7. Vegetable Leftovers</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-200422290-001-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Leftover vegetables can be considered free fillers if you would otherwise toss them out uneaten.</p> <p>Increase the flavor of your favorite dishes while emptying your refrigerator:</p> <ul> <li>Spread mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomatoes, etc. on pizza and bake<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Throw green beans and cauliflower into your favorite soup<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Make a frittata with those extra veggies<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use broccoli as a baked potato topping<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add vegetables to pasta, toss, and heat in olive oil<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mix kale, spinach, and red peppers with cheese and make a <a href="http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/youll-melt-veggie-filled-grilled-cheese-sandwich-211400160.html">special grilled cheese sandwich</a></li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.almanac.com/content/vegetable-nutrition-chart">Vegetables</a> contain various types of nutrients.</p> <h2>8. Bananas</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-144797361-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Bananas typically cost less than $1 per pound. Keep a bunch on your kitchen counter.</p> <p>If your bananas start to become overripe, peel and freeze them.</p> <p>To add flavor and texture to breakfast and snacks:</p> <ul> <li>Cut up and add bananas to cereal and yogurt parfaits<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mix <a href="http://www.onceuponachef.com/2013/01/banana-pancakes.html">mashed bananas into pancakes</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add sliced bananas to fruit salads such as <a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/ambrosia-salad-100-279302">ambrosia</a> and desserts like ice cream<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add frozen pieces to fruit smoothies</li> </ul> <p><a href="http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/natural-foods/natural-weight-loss-food-bananas-ga.htm">Bananas</a> are a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber.</p> <h2>9. Peanut Butter</h2> <p><img alt="" src="http://static1.killeraces.com/files/fruganomics/u784/fill-177306791-ggnoads.jpg" style="width: 605px; height: 303px;" /></p> <p>Healthy, natural versions of peanut butter cost about $4 for 16 ounces or about 20 cents each time you add a spoonful to these recipes. Most peanut butter keeps a long time in your kitchen cabinet.</p> <p>To increase the yumminess and creaminess of your snack or meal:</p> <ul> <li>Spread peanut butter on apple slices, celery sticks, or crackers<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Add a spoonful of peanut butter to smoothies<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use peanut butter as an ingredient in <a href="http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/drink/views/Chicken-Stir-Fry-with-Peanut-Sauce-Over-Rice-232431">stir-fry dishes</a><br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Stir in peanut butter in <a href="http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/peanut-butter-recipes#slide-5">muffin</a> and <a href="http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/peanut-butter-recipes#slide-3">sweet bread</a> recipes</li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/245438-health-benefits-of-peanut-butter/">Peanut butter</a> is a good source of potassium and contains protein and healthy fats.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite cheap and healthy filler foods?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-healthy-foods-for-under-1-a-pound">50 Healthy Foods for Under $1 a Pound</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big">9 Pantry Tricks That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-and-eat-better-with-a-7-step-food-budget">Save Money and Eat Better With a 7-Step Food Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-mouth-watering-lentil-recipes">35 Mouth Watering Lentil Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink cheap recipes frugal foods groceries healthy foods pantry Thu, 07 Nov 2013 10:36:03 +0000 Julie Rains 1081425 at http://www.wisebread.com Save Money and Eat Better With a 7-Step Food Budget http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-and-eat-better-with-a-7-step-food-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-money-and-eat-better-with-a-7-step-food-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cooking-5295174-small.jpg" alt="woman cooking" title="woman cooking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>OK, confession time: I usually eat <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-alone-without-going-broke">rather crappy food at home</a>, and I love to go out to restaurants. However, I&#39;ve started really looking at how much money I&#39;m spending on food, especially because I&#39;m always suggesting the <a href="http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2013/CostofFoodJul2013.pdf">USDA food budget</a> (PDF) to my clients in my day job. I decided to try that budget myself. Based on the changes I had to make and what I learned, here&#39;s my advice for saving money by cooking at home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-time-for-home-cooked-meals">How to Find Time for Home Cooking</a>)</p> <h2>1. Take an Inventory and Plan Your Meals</h2> <p>The first step is to use this <a href="http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/page/what-you-should-spend">helpful food calculator</a> to plan for how many meals you could realistically eat at home (because we all like to eat out sometimes, and there is nothing wrong with that). Next, make a list of the staples currently in your pantry and build on them. Most likely you have pasta hiding in there and a can or two of tomatoes. Try to build off what you already have before you buy more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-best-cooking-apps-to-make-mealtimes-manageable">Best Cooking Apps to Manage Meals</a>)</p> <h2>2. Buy Fresh, Local Produce</h2> <p>Go for fresh, local produce rather than grocery store produce from God knows where. And I know, when you hear the words &ldquo;Farmers Market&rdquo; you automatically think everything will be too expensive. But think about this: at a farmers market, the food probably came straight from the source only an hour or so away. At a grocery store, the food might have come from a country far away and be <a href="http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/03/28/how-far-does-your-produce-travel/">a week or more old by the time it reaches your plate</a>. And whether or not the farmer&#39;s market is an option, use <a href="http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/six-tips-extending-shelf-life-foods">this guide</a> to extend the shelf life of your food from wherever you bought it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-not-to-buy-at-a-farmers-market">What NOT to Buy at a Farmers Market</a>)</p> <h2>3. Buy Staples in Bulk</h2> <p>If you have a big family, this is a great way to save money. A friend of mine was recently a victim of the recession &mdash; she lost her job through layoffs, lost her house through foreclosure, and was forced to go on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for a few months. She has three children, two with diabetes and one with asthma, and times got tough. She said the only way she made it through it was with a Costco membership. So when you&#39;re planning out your staples, make sure you save at a big store. Just note that if you&#39;re single, buying in bulk can be a bad idea if what you&#39;re buying has an expiration date.</p> <h2>4. Organize Your Pantry</h2> <p>My parents often have the trouble of canned or boxed food expiring before they use it. It&#39;s not that they&#39;re wasteful; it&#39;s just that their pantry is too deep and hard to see into. If you have this problem, check out some ideas from the <a href="http://www.containerstore.com/shop/kitchen">Container Store</a> or <a href="http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/kitchen/">Ikea</a> websites (I don&#39;t mean buy them, but they can inspire great ideas) and dig around on &quot;<a href="http://pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=organize%20kitchen">organize kitchen</a>&quot; on Pinterest. The Squawkfox has <a href="http://www.squawkfox.com/2012/07/02/pantry/">a helpful chart</a>. And never put something with a short shelf life in the pantry. Always keep it out on the counter to remind you to use it. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-pantry-and-save-cash">How to Organize Your Pantry</a>)</p> <h2>5. Stop Buying So Much Junk Food</h2> <p>After a strict week of no extra spending, I binged &mdash; I hopped into the grocery store and purchased ice cream, fun-sized candy bars, Oreos, and Little Debbies. I then walked into my apartment and smacked myself in the forehead. I am a believer that chocolate can heal you, so you shouldn&#39;t give it up completely, but buying four different kinds of chocolate at once will not make you feel better. Instead, try allowing yourself on treat per week.</p> <h2>6. Don&#39;t Bore Yourself</h2> <p>My biggest problem is that because I make the same meals so often, I usually get bored. I can only eat so many rice dishes, pasta, and frozen meals. And I love all kinds of fun and tasty food, so when I just make the same things over and over, it makes me want to eat out more. So, make sure you keep it interesting; certain flavorful foods can go a long way &mdash; ginger, garlic, basic veggies, spices. Experiment and have fun. <a href="http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/cheap_eats">Eating Well</a> has some great suggestions and <a href="http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/">the USDA&#39;s website</a> (<em>down while the government funding lapse continues &mdash; Ed.</em>) helps you build cookbooks and recipes based on ingredients.</p> <h2>7. Save, Save, Save!</h2> <p>Okay, I don&#39;t mean eat gruel every night and skip breakfast. I mean, really try your best to not overspend on food you don&#39;t need. I&#39;ve read many articles and talked to many clients in my day job about how they grew up poor and now want to make up for that for their family. I completely understand, but if you make more money than you need to spend, save! Spending it to prove you can will not help you in the long run &mdash; and saving will help cover you in case you encounter an emergency like losing your job.</p> <p><em>What steps do you take to save on food?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jennifer-holder">Jennifer Holder</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-and-eat-better-with-a-7-step-food-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods">9 Cheap and Healthy Filler Foods</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-off-season-foods-that-are-destroying-your-grocery-budget">5 Off-Season Foods That Are Destroying Your Grocery Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big">9 Pantry Tricks That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-100-or-more-from-your-food-bill-without-even-trying">Cut $100 or More From Your Food Bill Without Even Trying</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-shopping-list-strategy-from-5-meal-plan-will-save-you-big">This Simple Shopping List Strategy From $5 Meal Plan Will Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink budget budgeting food budget groceries pantry Mon, 14 Oct 2013 09:48:04 +0000 Jennifer Holder 1013131 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/groceries-5228193-small.jpg" alt="grocery shopping" title="grocery shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I've depended on a plant-based diet for well over a decade to sustain my activity and satisfy my hunger. Originally, I thought nixing the meat, cheese, and other animal products would mean big bucks saved at the checkout. Thing is, the words &quot;organic&quot; and &quot;vegan&quot; can be expensive adjectives to add to the grocery list. By developing a go-to vegan pantry and paying close attention to some key grocery savings tips, however, a plant-based, whole foods diet need not be unattainable. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <h2>Savings Tips</h2> <p>Sticking to a vegan diet doesn't have to break the bank. There are many ways to save on your grocery list.</p> <p><strong>Shop Farmers Markets or Get a CSA Share</strong></p> <p>Not only is supporting local agriculture an awesome thing to do, but you can usually get great deals on farm-to-market foods that grocery stores can't offer due to their overhead. The benefit beyond the savings is getting produce picked often that very day. The truth is in the flavor.</p> <p><strong>Avoid Products With Excess Packaging</strong></p> <p>Shop the bulk section whenever possible and consider getting your own containers. Prices of food in bins is lower on most everything &mdash; just compare packaged oats to bulk or almond butter to the kind in those gigantic tubs and you'll see the difference.</p> <p><strong>Skip Meat and Dairy Substitutes</strong></p> <p>It can be tempting when banishing animal products to return to those creature comforts in their veganized form. These items, usually found in the frozen or refrigerated sections, are highly processed and, as a result, expensive. Included in this group is anything from ground &quot;beef&quot; to non-dairy &quot;cheese&quot; to fake lunch &quot;meat.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Stock Up on Seasonal Produce</strong></p> <p>It makes perfect sense that when a fruit or vegetable is in season, its stock will be plentiful and, therefore, price will be lower than more exotic, far-travelling items like avocados or star fruits. Buy in bulk and preserve for the rest of the year by freezing (easiest), canning, pickling, or using other preservation techniques. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preserving-in-season-foods-for-off-season-feasts">Preserving Your Bounty</a>)</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-5245027-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="303" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Pick and Choose Your Organics</strong></p> <p>I'd love to fill my cart with everything as natural and organic as possible, but it's not always an option for my family. Instead, we buy the &quot;<a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php">dirty dozen</a>&quot; organic and the rest conventional, unless we can get it locally for less. Beware that regulations can be lax &mdash; many packaged products (cereals, cookies, and other snacks) claiming an organic status might not be quite as pure as you'd assume.</p> <p><strong>Plan Your Menu Ahead of Time</strong></p> <p>Taking fifteen minutes to draft out a weekly dinner menu might sound like a bore, but with direction, your grocery list will be much more targeted. Skipping the extras will save you money, too. I sit down with different cookbooks from time to time and also keep a mental library of family favorites that are easy to make and nutritious. For more savings, try overlapping ingredients or even trying to use leftovers from one meal to the next. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-best-cooking-apps-to-make-mealtimes-manageable">8 Best Cooking Apps to Manage Meals</a>)</p> <p><strong>Write a List Before Heading to the Store</strong></p> <p>This tip goes hand in hand with menu planning. Although most people I see in the aisles at the grocery store are listless, or, rather, list-less, their carts are overfull. Write a list, check it twice, and don't deviate. Random $4 boxes of cereal or $3 condiments add up at the register. A list helps ensure you stay on task &mdash; whether it is handwritten or typed neatly on your phone.</p> <p><strong>Try Different Grocery Stores</strong></p> <p>I have my all-time favorite store in my hometown, but when I venture out, I often am surprised at how different stores provide different items at &mdash; yup &mdash; <em>different </em>price points. Next time you're on the other side of town, check out some of your favorite items. Rotating stores different weeks might allow you to stock up on certain ingredients for $1 or more less than you're used to paying.</p> <p><strong>Cook From Scratch</strong></p> <p>Throughout these tips, you may notice I avoid packaged foods. Convenience is nice, but whenever you can make something from raw ingredients in your own oven, you'll save money. At least that's my experience. I often make my own large batches of waffles, breakfast bars, breads, bagels, soups, applesauce, etc. and freeze to make the best use of my time and foods. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-time-for-home-cooked-meals">How to Find Time for Home Cooking</a>)</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-361360-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="303" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Consider Learning Techniques Like Canning and Freezing</strong></p> <p>Another common theme throughout this list is food preservation, which is somewhat antithetical to food waste, thus a budget-friendly practice. Freezing is a good place to begin if you're unfamiliar. And just because you don't have tons of space doesn't mean you can't still practice this method. Even a small freezer or pantry can accommodate a week's worth of healthful meals.</p> <h2>Grocery List</h2> <p>Here's a list of versatile items to keep in your pantry, and also ways to turn a non-vegan recipe to vegan with a few substitutes.</p> <p><strong>Flax Seeds</strong></p> <p>I can't think of a day when I don't toss some ground flax meal into a smoothie, oatmeal, or something I'm baking. Flax is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to vegetarians and vegans alike (similar fats are found mostly in fish). Flax seeds can also be used in baking as a binder &mdash; a replacement for eggs &mdash; just combine 1 tablespoon with 2&ndash;3 tablespoons boiling water, mix, and add into the recipe per each egg required.</p> <p><strong>Bananas</strong></p> <p>Boasting a huge dose of potassium and vitamins A, C, and E, bananas are extremely versatile as part of a vegan diet. I use them in baking (a quarter cup mashed can replace oil or even an egg), freeze them and blend to make an ice cream-like treat, or enjoy alone as part of a portable snack. The obvious: Bananas are also inexpensive, earning them a permanent spot on my grocery list.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-2502721-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="303" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Rolled Oats</strong></p> <p>A quick stroll through any bulk foods section should yield quite a savings on rolled oats, steel cut oats, etc. Oatmeal is a great alternative to cereal and can be served hot or cold and sweet or savory, depending on different flavorings, fixings, and additions. Oats can also be pulsed in a food processor and used as flour to substitute or enhance cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. Read labels carefully, but some varieties are even gluten-free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-eat-oats-when-you-hate-oatmeal">11 Ways to Eat Oats</a>)</p> <p><strong>Sweet Potatoes</strong></p> <p>Traditionally topped with toasted marshmallows at the Thanksgiving dinner table, sweet potatoes are now considered a powerhouse in the vegan world. They can be roasted in cubes, cut up and baked as crisp fries, mashed in place of white potatoes, or even microwaved for a hearty work day lunch.</p> <p><strong>Peanut Butter</strong></p> <p>Perhaps I'm alone in this way of thinking, but peanut butter makes everything taste better. That, and because it's high in protein, peanut butter keeps me full. Slathered between two slices of bread, spread atop celery, or whisked together in a quick Thai peanut sauce, I always have a jar in the pantry to use in a pinch. There's also nothing wrong with a spoonful of the stuff just because.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-3529075-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="303" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Coconut Milk</strong></p> <p>One of my favorite ways to take a stir-fry from blah to blissful is to add coconut milk to whatever sauce I'm making. The light, rich flavor enhances sweet and savory dishes and is especially tasty with red, green, and yellow curry pastes. Coconut milk can also be a 1:1 substitute for cow's milk in baking.</p> <p><strong>Canned Tomatoes</strong></p> <p>In the dead of winter when fresh just isn't an option, I turn to canned tomato products to fill my favorite crock pot chili and vegetable soups, make delicious pizza sauces, and top heaping bowls of pasta. If BPA is a concern, shop carefully. One of my favorite &quot;canned&quot; brands isn't canned at all, but comes in a BPA-free box. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-vegetarian-crock-pot-recipes">Vegan Crockpot Recipes</a>)</p> <p><strong>Tofu</strong></p> <p>When I was first starting my vegetarian adventure, there was maybe one type of tofu at my disposal. Now, there are many different varieties and textures from which to choose. Tofu cubed and fried is a simple addition to stir-fries or even alone as a side dish. However, did you know that the silken variety can make a <a href="http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2010/05/nutella-pie-with-strawberries.html">mean chocolate pie</a>?</p> <p><strong>Carrots</strong></p> <p>All year long, the price of organic carrots impresses me. So does the nutritional profile, with high marks in vitamins A, K, and C &mdash; along with folate, potassium, and dietary fiber, just to name a few. Carrots can be roasted whole, chopped up and added to soups, and eaten raw for a crunchy snack. They're also on the &quot;first foods&quot; list if you're interested in extending the grocery savings by making homemade purees for your baby.</p> <p><strong>Greens</strong></p> <p>When purchased in smaller amounts, greens might not seem like a steal &mdash; but be sure to check out big bins and those double packs that can be found at many warehouse stores. Greens &mdash; kale, baby spinach, spring mix, arugula, and the list goes on &mdash; are a healthy finish to many sandwiches and burgers. They are tasty sauteed with olive oil and lemon juice and added to pasta. I even toss a handful in my hummus or pesto recipes.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-5324808-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="303" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Cider Vinegar</strong></p> <p>From adding a tangy flavor to sauces and stir-fries to thickening non-dairy milks for use in baking, apple cider vinegar (sometimes known as just &quot;ACV&quot;) is a powerful ingredient to add to your kitchen's arsenal. Some swear by the purported health benefits of (unfiltered) ACV, including clearer skin, better digestion, lessened leg cramping, and more.</p> <p><strong>Frozen Veggies and Berries</strong></p> <p>For nights when cooking long hours just isn't an option, I turn to frozen veggies to fill my nutritional needs. Peas are a favorite side-dish at our house (and kids love them, too), but if you seek it out &mdash; you can even find economical frozen CSA shares loaded with local organic produce in the off-season. (We budget ahead of time to accommodate this expense week to week.) Frozen berries can seem costly, but since they don't spoil and can be used in smoothies, pies, and all sorts of other dishes &mdash; they're worth a trip to the chilly section.</p> <p><strong>Raisins</strong></p> <p>My toddler thinks raisins are candy. They add extra oomph to sweet breads, homemade bagels, trail mix, and more. Raisins can even be used in place of pricier medjool dates in no-bake energy bar recipes. Consider also serving them alone as a natural source of fuel (instead of gels, bars, etc.) for long runs or bike rides along the countryside.</p> <p><strong>Soy Sauce</strong></p> <p>A great flavor booster in its own right, soy sauce is undeniably addicting when mixed in equal parts with sesame oil and drizzled over steamed broccoli and brown rice. Dunk homemade dumplings in the salty sauce for an at-home takeout experience.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-4262387-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="302" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Almonds</strong></p> <p>Nuts might not top your list of what's considered frugal at the store, but almonds can go a long way. Soak for a few hours, blend, and strain for homemade almond milk, pulse in your food processor for almond meal (great in chocolate chip cookies!), use dry roasted to blend into homemade almond butter, or even eat a handful as a quick snack.</p> <p><strong>Canned Pumpkin</strong></p> <p>This is another case of fresh being best, but with regard to nutrition and availability &mdash; canned pumpkin is king. Look beyond the pie section at the store to find the good stuff, which I use in pumpkin chili, as a base for my homemade garlic knots, and in sliced and dessert breads.</p> <p><strong>Squash</strong></p> <p>If you visit the market during squash season, which between the summer squash and fall varieties is quite a long while, you'll likely find more than you know what to do with. And at low prices per pound, it might be worth picking up too much and searching for recipes. I like zucchini, summer squash, acorn squash, butternut, opo, etc. as simply as you can prepare them &mdash; sliced, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted at around 400 degrees F until browned and softened.</p> <p><strong>Tomatoes</strong></p> <p>Best when they're in season, tomatoes turn into sauce in minutes, can blend into a tasty barbeque sauce, and &mdash; sliced thickly &mdash; are a substantial addition to salads (my favorite being caprese) and vegan burgers. Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, antioxidants, and vitamin C. With so many varieties, they're also just fun to cook with.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-5198265-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="303" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Mushrooms</strong></p> <p>Portabella mushrooms can serve as a hearty base for a filling vegan meal. Simply grill outdoors or simmer on the stovetop. Other varieties, like shiitake, can make a delicious vegan gravy for holidays (or anytime, really), creamy soups, and wonderful savory side at brunch.</p> <p><strong>Vegetable Stock</strong></p> <p>Making stock at home can be an easy way to save money and use up leftover vegetable scraps. However, it can also be time intensive and store-bought stocks don't typically break the bank. We use veggie stock to flavor stuffing and even in place of water in pizza crust. Make soups and stews more flavorful with a few cups of stock or use as a liquid base for a casserole.</p> <p><strong>Whole Wheat Flour</strong></p> <p>An often overlooked way to save each week is baking bread at home. We don't limit &quot;bread&quot; to the standard sliced loaf in our home. Think of all the pizza crusts, naan, pita, bagels, English muffins, and other varieties out there. I prefer using whole wheat as an alternative to all-purpose, sometimes mixing the two half and half to increase nutritional value with whole grain.</p> <p><strong>Bell Peppers</strong></p> <p>One of my all-time favorite childhood meals was stuffed peppers. Back then, my mom made them with ground beef. Today, I stuff them with quinoa, beans, tofu, rice, and any other number of healthy vegan fillers. Bell peppers come in many colors and also chop well into stir-fries and salads.</p> <p><strong>Olive Oil</strong></p> <p>As a dressing or dip, olive oil is easily dressed up with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I also use olive oil as a healthy substitute for butter in baking. Its mild flavor lends well to a multitude of uses and substitutions. It's also a great source of healthy, unsaturated fats.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-4614395-small-ggnoads.jpg" width="605" height="303" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Beans</strong></p> <p>I'm making a rather broad category here because beans &ndash; from black beans to kidney to garbanzos &ndash; can be used in a multitude of ways. Together with spices and veggies, beans can be used in homemade vegan burgers. Soups and salads get a dose of protein by adding a few handfuls. Hummus is much cheaper (and customizable) when made at home, too. Beans come canned, but a lot of people like dried to eliminate BPA fears and get the most bang for the buck.</p> <p><strong>Cocoa Powder</strong></p> <p>Many new vegans are surprised to find out they can add chocolate flavor to almost anything with unsweetened cocoa powder &mdash; at just 10 calories per tablespoon. I toss it into smoothies, cookies, brownies, and even vegan mole sauce or hot cocoa. High in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other minerals, cocoa powder adds far more than flavor.</p> <p><em>What ingredients are on your budget-friendly vegan/vegetarian grocery list? With so many options, it's hard to list them all!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-mouth-watering-lentil-recipes">35 Mouth Watering Lentil Recipes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/perfect-peanut-sauce">Perfect Peanut Sauce</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eating-vegan-on-the-cheap">Eating Vegan on the Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-amazing-veggie-burgers-to-make-tonight">10 Amazing Veggie Burgers to Make Tonight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-you-think-youre-a-carnivore">So, You Think You&#039;re a Carnivore?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink pantry shopping groceries vegan vegetarian Fri, 27 Sep 2013 19:55:13 +0000 Ashley Marcin 711191 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Do a One-Month Spending Freeze http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000001769284Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Making a big financial change is like getting in a cold swimming pool. You can oh-so-slowly walk from the shallow end to the deep end, shivering all the way &mdash; or you can hold your nose and just jump in. It might not be pleasant, but it sure is faster &mdash; and you might be surprised at how quickly you acclimate to the water.</p> <p>Similarly, if you&rsquo;re looking to overhaul your finances &mdash; whether you want to pay down debt, save more, or just spend your money wisely &mdash; you can develop little habits bit-by-bit, or you can jump into the pool with a spending freeze. By cutting out all unnecessary spending, you can jump-start your financial goals &mdash; and discover lots of fun, free things to do that you might have never thought of.</p> <p>You can do a spending freeze for any amount of time &mdash; a week, two weeks, even a year &mdash; but one month is a nice. It&rsquo;s enough time that you can save what feels like a significant amount of money, but not so long that it feels like it&rsquo;s going to go on forever. (For longer time periods, check out our article on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps">How to Do a Spending Fast in 16 (Easy!) Steps</a>.)</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s what to do.</p> <h3>Look at Your Budget</h3> <p>Actually, there&rsquo;s a step before this &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps">start a budget</a> if you don&rsquo;t already have one. The only way you can take control of your finances is to understand where your money is going.</p> <p>Now, look at what you spend money on every month, and separate the needs from the wants. Common &ldquo;want&rdquo; categories include clothing, entertainment, and dining out &mdash; but there are other, sneakier wants too. For example, how much of your weekly grocery bill is wants, and how much of it is needs?&nbsp;Also look at regular subscription services &mdash; such as newspapers or Netflix. Many will allow you to put your subscription on hold without actually cancelling it.</p> <p>After you&rsquo;ve done this, make a revised version of your budget where you spend nothing on these want categories.</p> <h3>Figure Out What You&rsquo;re Doing With Your Savings</h3> <p>Now that you&rsquo;ve established where you <i>won&rsquo;t</i> be spending money, you have to decide what you <i>will</i> be doing with those funds. Whether it&rsquo;s a large debt payment, creating your first emergency fund, or even saving for a vacation, having a goal you&rsquo;re working towards will make the spending freeze easier.</p> <h3>Enlist Others</h3> <p>Anybody who&rsquo;s ever had a gym buddy knows that doing something you don&rsquo;t want to do gets easier when you do it with someone you like. In this case, it might be your significant other, your parents, or a friend. This step isn&rsquo;t necessary, but if you do the spending freeze with someone else, you&rsquo;ll be able to support each other along the way.</p> <h3>Clean Out Your Pantry, and Plan Your Meals</h3> <p>Now that your plans are in place, it&rsquo;s time to get into the nitty-gritty. While food is a need, there are several ways that you can cut down on food costs over the next month.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-pantry-and-save-cash">Cleaning and reorganizing your pantry</a> will remind you what foods you have hiding in your cupboards. After you&rsquo;ve made a list of what you have, use these foods as the basis to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-eat-every-day-a-month-of-frugal-meals">plan your meals for the next month</a> &mdash; not only will you use up ingredients that have been sitting around, but you&rsquo;ll slash your grocery bill.</p> <h3>Schedule Free Fun</h3> <p>One of the most difficult things about being on a spending freeze is the &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t&rdquo; feeling. Instead of moping around feeling annoyed that you can&rsquo;t go out for drinks with your friends, be proactive! Invite people over for a potluck, schedule a hike for next weekend, or set up a weekly board game night with some friends. If you need to get some ideas, check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">50+ Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-free-ways-to-get-out-of-the-house">7 Free Ways to Get Out of the House</a>.</p> <h3>Remix Your Wardrobe</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t think you can go 30 days without a fashion infusion? Then try the <a href="http://www.ajwearsclothes.com/2012/05/30-for-30-wardrobe-remix-pieces.html">30 for 30 Remix</a>, which challenges you to take just 30 pieces of clothing you own and make them into 30 different outfits in 30 days.</p> <h3>Track Your Progress</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s important to track your progress &mdash; seeing that you&rsquo;re on the right track can make you charged up to keep going. Consider putting up a chart on the fridge where you can track your savings.</p> <h3>Adopt Permanent Changes</h3> <p>At the end of the month, take some time to consider what worked for you. Maybe you discovered that packing your lunch for work wasn&rsquo;t so bad, and you didn&rsquo;t miss eating out. Or that there&rsquo;s more versatility in your wardrobe than you thought. Or you didn&rsquo;t miss cable. Whatever it is, see if there are some frugal changes that you can adopt as long-term habits instead of just going back to your old ways.</p> <h3>Need Motivation? How About $10,000 in Prizes?</h3> <p>Almost inspired to start a spending freeze but need a little extra motivation? We're here to help! Wise Bread has teamed up with SaveUp to give away $10,000 worth of cash prizes to reward you for not using your credit card. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/saveup-s-no-spend-giveaway-win-up-to-10000-in-rewards">Check out our contest post for full details</a>.</p> <p><em>Have you done a spending freeze? Or are you thinking about trying one? Share your experiences in the comments!</em></p> <div align="center"> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saveup-s-no-spend-giveaway-win-up-to-10000-in-rewards"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/saveup-nospend-300_0.jpg" width="300" height="300" alt="" /></a></p></div><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-unexpected-dog-costs-you-should-prepare-for-now">5 Unexpected Dog Costs You Should Prepare for Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-95-best-ways-to-get-fit-for-free">Flashback Friday: The 95 Best Ways to Get Fit for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-make-retail-therapy-good-for-you">5 Ways to Make Retail Therapy Good for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-save-and-make-money-while-traveling">12 Ways to Save and Make Money While Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-smart-way-to-budget-on-a-freelance-income">The Smart Way to Budget on a Freelance Income</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting free things to do pantry spending freeze wardrobe Wed, 16 Jan 2013 11:36:34 +0000 Meg Favreau 965736 at http://www.wisebread.com Stockpiling Is Rarely the Answer http://www.wisebread.com/stockpiling-is-rarely-the-answer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stockpiling-is-rarely-the-answer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5455724146_e1b89f863a_z_0.jpg" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If the answer is stockpiling, you've probably got the question wrong. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure">The Second-Best Way to Make your Household More Secure</a>)</p> <p>Now, I'm not talking about having a well-stocked pantry. Having the things you use every week on hand in quantities that ensure that you won't run out makes your household run a lot more smoothly.</p> <p>I'm also not talking about stocking up when you can get a good price on things you're going to use anyway. That yields <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">huge tax-free profits</a>.</p> <p>I'm talking about the people who view stockpiles as insurance against things like natural disaster, civil unrest, or social collapse. Once you're stockpiling more than you're going to use anyway (and especially if you're stockpiling stuff that you wouldn't ordinarily use), I think you're wasting time, money, and storage space &mdash; plus doing a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-ethics-of-hoarding">disservice to your neighbors</a>.</p> <p>Stockpiles add resilience in the very short term. If there's a natural disaster &mdash; a flood or a blizzard or an earthquake or a hurricane &mdash; there may be a period during which you can't get to the store, or the store can't get resupplied. In that circumstance, a stock of the things you use every day is great. But it doesn't need to be a large stockpile. Even the smallest kitchen has room for all the stockpile you need to get through a brief period where the power is out or the roads are impassible.</p> <p>For a short-term negative event, a modest stockpile makes good sense. Stockpiling is much less useful as a way to deal with a longer-termed negative event.</p> <p>Long-term events often require relocating, which takes you away from your stockpile. It's bad enough to have to abandon your home to move to higher ground. Having to abandon hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of stockpiled goods would make it that much worse. But the sorts of disasters where problems go on longer than two or three weeks tend to be just the sorts of disasters where you end up needing to move elsewhere.</p> <p>For a short-term negative event, it doesn't matter if your stockpile doesn't have everything you're going to want. Even if it's missing essentials &mdash; well, you can get along even without essentials, at least for a little while. But over the longer term, you really need every essential, and some necessities don't stockpile well. This includes things as diverse as fresh fruit and gasoline. Storing supplies that will last for days is easy. Storing supplies to last for months is much more problematic.</p> <p>If you think a larger stockpile makes sense, give some careful thought to the sort of negative event you think you're protecting against. A one-year supply of food could help you through a severe recession where all the income-earners in your family lost their jobs. But other things you could do with that money, space, time, and effort would almost certainly help more. Here are some alternative suggestions:</p> <ul> <li><strong>An emergency fund.</strong> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">Cash in the bank</a> may be of little help if you're trapped by flood waters &mdash; but it will be of great help if rising water forces you to flee your house.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>An investment portfolio.</strong> In much the same way that having a well-stocked pantry makes your kitchen run more smoothly, having <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-the-importance-of-having-capital">a little capital</a> makes your whole financial life run more smoothly.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Additional skills.</strong> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-investment-yourself">Investing in yourself</a> is at least as likely to pay off in an emergency or a disaster as an extra hundred pounds of wheat or lentils &mdash; with the bonus that it also pays off when there isn't an emergency.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>A network of friends and neighbors.</strong> In almost any kind of emergency, having <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure">people</a> who owe you some favors is going to be as useful as a stockpile of stuff.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Tools.</strong> Being able to do stuff yourself is always useful. (Tools that are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more">yours to share</a> are also a way to build that network.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>A fruit or nut tree.</strong> Over time, something that grows food will beat any stockpile of food.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Energy savings.</strong> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fix-energy-in-tangible-form">Fix energy in tangible form</a>. A well-insulated house will be more useful than any practical stockpile of fuel &mdash; likewise a fuel-efficient car, or a bicycle, or a bus pass.</li> </ul> <p>Just like with a stockpile, all these things have diminishing returns. An emergency fund with three-months spending is vastly more useful than an emergency fund of $20. An emergency fund with six-months spending is even better &mdash; but it's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/just-saving-more-is-not-the-answer">not twice as much better</a>. Having the skills to get different job is great. Having the skills to get eight different jobs is better yet, but does not make you eight times more secure.</p> <p>Once you go beyond stockpiling the things you were going to use anyway, you're stockpiling things that you'd only use in an emergency &mdash; things that will simply go to waste if there is no emergency. And even if there is an emergency, it may well be a different kind of emergency than the one you prepared for.</p> <p>Anytime you're tempted to stockpile items beyond those you'll use anyway, consider that the time, money, space, and effort can probably be used more effectively elsewhere.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stockpiling-is-rarely-the-answer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">Huge Tax-Free Investment Returns</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-plan-better-than-an-emergency-fund">Emergency Plan: Better Than an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/contingency-plans">Contingency Plans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-financial-moves-you-will-always-regret">9 Financial Moves You Will Always Regret</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-writing-a-will">What You Need to Know About Writing a Will</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance emergency plan pantry stockpiling Fri, 07 Dec 2012 10:36:39 +0000 Philip Brewer 955730 at http://www.wisebread.com Avoid Dinner Stress: Pay Someone to Plan Your Meals http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-dinner-stress-pay-someone-to-plan-your-meals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/avoid-dinner-stress-pay-someone-to-plan-your-meals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6110846706_20046251ca_z.jpg" alt="making pizza" title="making pizza" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Running a household is busy enough with laundry and dishes to clean, bills to be paid, kids to be delivered and picked up, and meals to shop for and cook.</p> <p>If you've got enough money, you can hire a personal assistant or a few people to run all of these life errands for you. For those who can't afford a personal valet, there are options to at least getting a few chores done by someone else. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-to-consider-before-hiring-household-help">4 Things to Consider Before Hiring Household Help</a>)</p> <p>Take meal planning. I didn't give it much thought until I read a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/dining/planning-your-menu-with-some-help.html">New York Times</a> story this summer about websites that provide a week of recipes for a minimal amount &mdash; about $5 a month.</p> <p>As a stay-at-home dad, planning family dinners wasn't a major stress in my life, but the time it took added up each week. It took a few hours as I looked up recipes, checked the pantry and freezer for what we already have, made a shopping list, went to the grocery store one day and the farmers market the next, and invariably had to return to the store because I forgot an ingredient.</p> <p>It was always a little difficult coming up with meals everyone liked, especially with a picky child and a no-fish rule in the house. Meal planning, it turned out, was a stress that I didn't realize I had until I saw a solution for it.</p> <p>So after finding a Groupon for half off a year's worth of recipe planning at <a href="http://www.thefresh20.com/">The Fresh 20</a> &mdash;&nbsp; named after the 20 ingredients essential to a pantry and the fact that there are no more than 20 fresh ingredients to shop for each week, I decided to hand my family's meal planning to someone else.</p> <p>The site promises meals that won't have processed, frozen, or packaged foods with preservatives &mdash; most of the stuff in the middle aisles of supermarkets &mdash; and instead uses fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, and brown rice and pastas. Options are available for gluten-free, vegan, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-vegetarian-crock-pot-recipes">vegetarian meals</a>, along with a classic menu each week. There's also a lunch menu.</p> <p>With the 20 ingredients to buy each week (some are used in two or more recipes, such as chicken or rice), and a pantry of 20 items the site recommends having (olive oil, certain spices, etc), grocery shopping is a lot easier than it used to be. I'll go over the pantry items in a future post and will include details on just why certain things should always be in a pantry.</p> <p>Instead of wandering down each aisle, a shopping list provided with each weekly meal plan helps you avoid aisles where you don't need anything. You do still need to shop for lunch and breakfast items.</p> <p>The meal plans should save you money while shopping since you're buying less. Once the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-organize-your-pantry-and-save-cash">pantry is stocked</a>, weekly groceries should be cheaper because you're buying fewer items. While only five meals are planned for the week, The Fresh 20 goes off of the idea that you'll either go out for a meal or two during the week, or you'll have leftovers for a night. I estimate we're saving about 20% on grocery bills.</p> <p>I've used the meal plans for the past month or so and have so far found it to be a godsend in helping me worry less about what I'm going to cook on any given night. I usually don't cook one of the prescribed meals every few weeks because it's something that most of my family won't eat. Or I find a substitute ingredient &mdash; such as chicken for fish &mdash; and the dinner still tastes great.</p> <p>In an average week, I'd say that one meal isn't a hit with everyone, so the recipe gets thrown out. Not that the meal was bad, but that it wasn't great enough to make us want to eat it again if given the choice. For the meals we do like, I keep the recipes in a file for future use.</p> <p>The meals are all easy to make, taking about 30 minutes or so. Food prep can add a little more time, only a few minutes, and the weekly instructions recommend doing some prep work on the first day of the week for the rest of the week's meals. I've skipped the advance prep work and have found that most recipes can still be completed within 30 minutes.</p> <p>I get an email every Friday from The Fresh 20, giving me a link to that week's recipes along with a shopping list and nutritional analysis of each meal. I print it out on Friday and either my wife or I go grocery shopping before Monday night, when we start the five planned meals. For the two days without provided recipes, so far we've either cobbled something together in the kitchen with whatever we have, have leftovers, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-dining-out">go out for dinner</a>. Who wants to eat at home every night?</p> <p>With that one chore out of the way for such a low price, I'm now looking into paying someone to deliver produce to my door from the farmers market. I'll let you know how that turns out in a month or so after I've tried it out for awhile.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-dinner-stress-pay-someone-to-plan-your-meals">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-pantry-tricks-that-save-you-big">9 Pantry Tricks That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-grocery-items-you-should-make-at-home-and-5-to-buy">35 Grocery Items You Should Make at Home (and 5 to Buy)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-cut-waste-when-feeding-kids">10 Ways to Cut Waste When Feeding Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/throwing-awesome-parties-on-a-budget">Throwing Awesome Parties on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Food and Drink Home dinner planning grocery list pantry Wed, 31 Oct 2012 09:48:35 +0000 Aaron Crowe 954954 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Easy Lunch Ideas for Work http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-lunch-ideas-for-work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-easy-lunch-ideas-for-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/work_cafeteria.jpg" alt="Coworkers at lunch" title="Coworkers at lunch" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="153" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all know that bringing lunch to work can be a huge money saver. So why don&rsquo;t more of us do it? Well, the reasons are as individual and varied as lunch itself can be, but in the end a couple of basic themes rise to the top: time and convenience. Here are a few strategies that will help you stick to your guns and save money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-quick-cheap-lunch-ideas">25 Quick, Cheap Lunch&nbsp;Ideas</a>)</p> <h3>1. Stock a Lunch Pantry</h3> <p>Keep one of your desk drawers, some space in your locker, or even a clear plastic box with a snap-on lid in the office refrigerator stocked with long-lasting groceries suitable for on-the-fly lunch ideas for work. Crackers, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tasty-topping-ideas-for-rice-cakes">rice cakes</a>, organic tea bags, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peanut-butter-the-poor-man-s-protein">peanut butter</a>, and even pourable boxed soups can all be stored in a drawer until you&rsquo;re ready to use them. If you have a little extra room, you can even stock a few seasoning items such as cinnamon, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. For those who want to use the clear tote in the fridge idea, some of these easy <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-easy-and-festive-cream-cheese-appetizers">cream cheese appetizers</a> can easily be modified for a lunch of crackers and fruit with a fun spread.</p> <h3>2. Consider Foods in&nbsp;Envelope Packets</h3> <p>For <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-on-the-fly-thrifty-tips-for-fast-moving-city-folks">fast-moving city commuters</a>, envelopes and foods that come in flat packs are a great solution. Envelopes of miso soup, pre-cooked sandwich salmon, and even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ramen-recipes-to-write-home-about">ramen</a> can be tucked into the slots of your messenger bag otherwise used for files. Tasty Bite has fun international foods available in envelopes as well, and a trip down the aisle at your grocery store can result in additional finds such as envelopes of pre-cooked rice and lentils, and premixed sandwich salads you can spread on crackers from your lunch pantry.</p> <h3>3. Get Delivery &mdash; Through the Mail</h3> <p>If your commute involves lugging a bag full of tech equipment into the city via several subway changes, then taking even a small lunch to work can be cumbersome. If staying on a <a href="http://webesharin.com/2011/07/31/cheap-food-guide-creative-cooking-ideas-for-inexpensive-and-healthy-grocery-items/">cheap food</a> budget without resorting to greasy fries is a priority for you, consider <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-case-for-amazon">the case for Amazon</a> that Wise Bread&rsquo;s own Linsey Knerl made a few years back. If you have access to a Prime membership for free shipping, then there are any number of easy, shelf-stable, and affordable lunch options you can have shipped to your place of employment to store in your lunch pantry. Lightweight vegan soup cups you can make by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-thousands-while-traveling-25-ways-to-use-hot-water">adding hot water</a>, healthy protein bars, and more can all be ordered by the case and stored easily for those days when even an apple seems like too much trouble to pack.</p> <h3>4. If You Must Go Out, Try a Food Truck</h3> <p>While hitting the local diner every day might not be the thriftiest move, exploring your nearby food truck options just might be. Many cities have a food truck scene that brings more variety than any food court at the mall ever could, and often for less than the value menu at a typical fast-food drive through. For example, in <a href="http://trekhound.com/2011/12/23/affordable-things-to-do-in-miami/">Miami</a>, many tourists and residents purchase affordable food truck munchables before heading to one of the city&rsquo;s pocket parks to enjoy a quiet, affordable, and stress-free lunch. Similar options exist in areas of Boston, New York, and other large cities.</p> <h3>5. Get Yourself Some Great Grab-and-Go Items</h3> <p>Bake up a batch of chicken nuggets on a Sunday and package up some quarter-pint <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sanity-saving-ideas-for-canning-jars">canning jars</a> full of your favorite dipping sauce. Thai sweet chili sauce and peanut sauce are two of my faves. The point is, planning <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-brown-bag-it-with-style">brown bag lunches</a> for the week doesn&rsquo;t have to take up a large amount of time. A few simple ideas for your main event, and you&rsquo;ll only need to pick a few favorite fillers to round things out.</p> <h3>6. Grazing Is Good</h3> <p>If you don&rsquo;t have to be on the phone most of the time, then using some of your favorite <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-fresh-ideas-for-healthy-road-trip-snacks">healthy road trip snacks</a> as lunch-worthy items you can eat during smaller breaks throughout the day might be your best bet. Snack ideas are often easier to come up with than a full menu plan, even when it comes to lunch ideas for work.</p> <h3>7. At Least Once a Week, Go the Extra Mile</h3> <p>If you can carve out time to go the extra distance with <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sex-up-your-sandwich-ideas-for-budget-conscious-brown-baggers">sandwich ideas</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/zero-waste-lunches-how-to-make-your-own-executive-style-supply-kit">zero waste lunch</a> supplies at least once a week &mdash; say, Wednesday &mdash; it will help you feel good about the choices you&rsquo;re making and maintain enthusiasm for the extra effort it can sometimes take. Take that slammin&rsquo; sandwich to the park or find a quiet corner to enjoy some streaming online news during your lunch hour.</p> <p>See? Easy lunch ideas for work actually do exist. Try a few of these simple strategies for yourself, and use the money you save to get ahead financially in a way that suits your family&rsquo;s needs.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/staff">Staff</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-lunch-ideas-for-work">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-quick-cheap-lunch-ideas">25 Quick, Cheap Lunch Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-non-sandwich-work-lunches">25 Great Non-Sandwich Work Lunches</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-pantry-foods-that-keep-longer-than-you-think">18 Pantry Foods That Keep Longer Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-and-healthy-filler-foods">9 Cheap and Healthy Filler Foods</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink cheap lunch ideas food trucks pantry work lunches Tue, 03 Jan 2012 11:00:15 +0000 Staff 851661 at http://www.wisebread.com Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests http://www.wisebread.com/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/party_spread2.jpg" alt="Guests and snacks" title="Guests and snacks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="155" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you live in a city like New York, unexpected guests are uncommon. It&rsquo;s hard enough getting people to come to my uptown condo with an invitation (city-dwellers tend not to leave their own neighborhoods), so it&rsquo;s a rare occasion when I&rsquo;m surprised by someone popping by unannounced.</p> <p>The suburbs are a different story. For some reason, suburbanites think it&rsquo;s A-OK to hop in the SUV, roll up to someone&rsquo;s home, and knock on the door just because they were &ldquo;in the neighborhood.&rdquo; Call me crazy, but I think that&rsquo;s strange. In fact, if you pulled into my driveway without calling first, I would pretend that I wasn&rsquo;t home, mostly because you&rsquo;re being creepy.</p> <p>Either way, we&rsquo;re all bound to host impromptu guests at some point or another, whether it&rsquo;s the weirdo PTA president from your son&rsquo;s school wanting to discuss the bake sale or your husband&rsquo;s work colleague who needs to kill some time before an event nearby. So you can rise to every occasion, here are some quick snack ideas from your pantry (with a few fridge staples mixed in) to satisfy those last-minute (and, hopefully, wanted) callers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stretching-meals-for-unexpected-guests">Stretching Meals for Unexpected Guests</a>)</p> <h3>PB&amp;J Bites</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s something about a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich that makes long-buried memories flood right back. Especially if it&rsquo;s on white bread &mdash; which, apparently, nobody eats anymore. To take this old-school classic to the next level for company, use star-shaped cookie cutters to cut out bite-sized pieces of bread that you can slather with a nutty spread and grown-up jams like blackberry or raspberry. Just don&rsquo;t forget to make use of the scraps. Let the unused bread and crust go stale before putting it into a food processor to make homemade breadcrumbs or chopping the pieces into chunks for fresh salad croutons. If you&rsquo;re feeling lazy, at least feed it to the birds.</p> <h3>Doctored-Up Popcorn</h3> <p>Dressing up <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-own-popcorn">popcorn</a> couldn&rsquo;t be quicker or easier. After three minutes in the microwave, top it with melted butter and Old Bay for a spicy, crab-seasoned kick (a fave that harkens back to my Baltimore roots), or toss it with black pepper and grated Parmesan for a tangy, cheesy kick. Want a little sweetness to balance out the salt? Toss plain popcorn with Milk Duds &mdash; a trick I learned from a lady at a movie theater once. Surprisingly good.</p> <h3>Trail Mix</h3> <p>Get rid of bottom-of-the-jar nuts, raisins, dried fruits, M&amp;Ms, and granola for a hodgepodge of flavor that&rsquo;s surprisingly filling. FYI &mdash; whole cashews and Craisins together are quite the combination.</p> <h3>Sliced Apples and Nutella<o:p></o:p></h3> <p><o:p>Just slice the apples</o:p> (<o:p>and squirt them with lemon juice so they don&rsquo;t brown) and serve them alongside a ramekin of Nutella for a fresh-fruit-and-hazelnut appetizer. Other variations could include melted chocolate </o:p>&mdash;<o:p> semi-sweet chips melt down in minutes in a double boiler </o:p>&mdash;<o:p> or a homemade caramel sauce that can be made by boiling a can of condensed milk for three hours.</o:p></p> <h3>Ritz Cracker Mini-Pizzas</h3> <p>When I took Home Economics in middle school, this was one of the first items we made; latchkey kids need to eat, after all. Top the crackers with a dollop of pizza or pasta sauce, a small handful of cheese, and any other toppings you have on hand. Pop the mini-pizzas in a 400&deg;F oven for a few minutes. Few ingredients, lots of flavor.</p> <h3>Turkey and Cheddar Triscuits</h3> <p>It's as fast as it sounds. Line up the crackers and top with a squirt of Dijon or deli mustard and thin squares of sharp cheddar &mdash; or <em>your</em> favorite cheese &mdash; and a half-slice of turkey. A little tip &mdash; either put the finished product in the fridge until the guests arrive or make five minutes before their ETA. You don&rsquo;t want the fresh meat and cheese to dry out; it&rsquo;s unappetizing.</p> <h3>Jell-O Mold</h3> <p><o:p></o:p>When I would stay with my grandmother on the weekends, she always had fresh Jell-O on hand, which is why I&rsquo;m partial to it. I prefer it plain &mdash; maybe some Cool Whip on top &mdash; but company won&rsquo;t be impressed by that. They will, however, give you props if you spike lime gelatin with booze and toss in some pomegranate seeds or cranberries to create a sweet and sinful treat for the eyes and mouth. It takes two minutes to make and about four hours to set.</p> <h3>Pudding Pops</h3> <p>A great summertime treat. Prepare instant chocolate pudding (in about three minutes) and put the mixture, with sticks, in the freezer for a few hours to harden. Bill Cosby himself couldn&rsquo;t do it better.</p> <h3>Tortilla Chips and Salsa Velveeta</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s a block of Velveeta in my pantry, but I can&rsquo;t remember why I bought it. Unless I can recall, I plan to cut it into cubes, melt it down, and mix it with salsa served along chips. An oldie but still a goodie.</p> <h3>Spiced Honey Pretzels</h3> <p>When I raided my pantry to come up with these snacks, I found a bag of pretzels. In their regular, straight-from-the-bag state, pretzels are nothing special. Enter Google, which has a million and one recipes that take this figure-friendly chip alternative to the next level. I particularly like this recipe for <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe?id=9654443">Spiced Honey Pretzels</a>. Onion and chili powders marry with the sticky-sweet bees' treat to create a crunchy, no-guilt carb fix.</p> <h3>Garlic Pita Chips With Marinara Sauce</h3> <p>If you have pita bread at home, cut the rounds into quarters, and toss with olive oil, a pinch of salt, dried Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Bake the triangles at 450&deg;F for five minutes or until golden and crispy. Serve with warmed pizza or pasta sauce.</p> <h3>Marinated Olives</h3> <p>This <a href="http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/recipe-of-the-day-marinated-olives/">olive recipe</a> combines lemon with garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. Assorted olives should rest in the mixture for at least an hour so the flavors can properly combine.</p> <h3>Spinach/Ranch Dip</h3> <p>Commercials are fantastic, albeit dangerous. Earlier this year &mdash; probably around <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/45-other-things-to-do-on-super-bowl-sunday">Super Bowl</a> time &mdash; Hidden Valley Ranch advertised its packet of ranch powder, found in the salad dressing aisle, as a spinach dip. All you&rsquo;ll need is a block of frozen spinach, a large container of sour cream and the ranch powder. It&rsquo;s a speedy recipe, but it does require some fridge time because frozen spinach usually needs to be boiled first, which is quite important to remember; you want to give your guests a light snack, not E. Coli.</p> <h3>Pasta Salad</h3> <p>At any given time there are nine boxes of pasta in my pantry. In the Sunday circulars, there are often coupons for Barilla and other brands, so I stock up. To make an off-the-cuff pasta salad, boil your favorite shape and toss with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh or dried basil, and Italian dressing or pesto sauce. Chill for two hours for a light and filling snack.</p> <p><em>Have go-to snacks that you make for unexpected guests? Let me know what they are in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-a-good-and-memorable-first-impression">Making a good and memorable first impression.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-items-for-your-organic-vegan-grocery-list">25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/breaking-the-bread-code-how-to-get-the-freshest-loaf">Breaking the Bread Code: How to Get the Freshest Loaf</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-fresh-ideas-for-healthy-road-trip-snacks">7 Fresh Ideas for Healthy Road Trip Snacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-office-potluck-dishes-everyone-loves">20 Office Potluck Dishes Everyone Loves</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink General Tips cheap snacks guests pantry party Thu, 21 Jul 2011 10:36:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 629104 at http://www.wisebread.com