Part 2: The "Use What you Have" Principle

Plan your menus based on what you already have in your pantry:

Plan your menus, but don’t be extravagant! Use what you have. I find the biggest waste of money is when I search high and low for exotic or rare (or out of season) ingredients to try to make something that sounds good to me. I end up wasting time, gas, and money on these ingredients only to use half the package and have the other half rotting in my fridge. Sound familiar??? I’ve since tried the principle of using what I have. What a concept! I use what I have, and I buy what I know I’ll use.

Here’s are my top 10 “staples” of what I always have on hand, no matter what:

1) Organic whole grain oats

Good for a hearty breakfast when soaked overnight in whey or yogurt water.

2) Raw Milk

I use this to make my cream cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, kefir

3) Eggs from pastured chickens

Breakfast of champions!

4) Ground beef from grass-fed cows

Always good for dinner, mixed with assorted spices to make tacos, curry, burgers, etc.

5) Tomato paste

Essential for making from-scratch sauces such as spaghetti sauce and enchilada sauce (note: read the ingredients for “tomato sauce” at the store; it’s not a whole food!)

6) Stock essientials: (Chicken necks, feet, Onions, Celery, Carrots)

I have stock simmering on my stove about 6 out of the 7 days of the week. Essential for sauces, soups, cooking rice, etc.

7) Seasonal Organic Vegetables

The perfect side dish, steamed with a little butter

8) Kerrygold Irish Butter

Made with milk from grassfed cows.

9) An arsenal of spices

A penny’s worth gives a mouthful of flavor, and for mere dollars you can have a collection that will take you South of the Border or to India within seconds!

10) Almonds

For making “Crispy Almonds”, the best snack on the planet!

As you can see, some of my essentials are very cheap, and others are a little more spendy. All in all, I believe that by consolidating and purchasing whole foods that can be made into a variety of other things, I am stretching my "oreganic dollar" farther.

Please comment: What are your top ten “essentials?”


Christina said...

hey carrie! So i posted a list of my top ten staples but I did top ten lenten staples (because lent is coming up so quickly and Paul and I are both fasting so no yummy irish butter for us:) It's on my blog at


thanks!!! We should meet up at the zoo sometime to talk about food:)

Xenia Kathryn said...

Cool post! I started listing all of mine out, but it turned out to be very long and I couldn't think of just ten. :)

Betsy said...

My staple lately has been goat cheese--anything becomes more enticing with a bit of goat cheese on top!

Xenia Kathryn said...

by the by, your post here influenced my shopping list for the week. I was thinking "cheese, cheese, cheese" for Cheesefare week, but I realized I had so many other things in my cupboard that can be used. You're right, it DOES indeed save money.

-raw milk
-butter (Kerrygold is great stuff!)
-eggs (I should start buying 2 doz.)
-cheese (V's in a cheese phase again)
-Nancy's whole yogurt (the huge tub)
-apples and nanners
-peanut butter and jelly (lunch staples for STeve)

Basically, "A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stickuvbutta."

Anonymous said...

Hi Carrie, I am going to enjoy your blog, even if I live in Vancouver!!
Havent made my top 10 list, but I have enough food to survive for 6 months in my pantry!
The top of my list would be garbanzo beans! They are great to eat, roasted, in soups, in salads, and just plain.

Susan Bournelis said...

Sorry about the anonymous, its me

Christina said...

check out this blog for local GF events, restaurants, etc.


Susan Bournelis said...

OK....here are my top 10:
in random order
tomato paste
pasta (spaghetti and macaroni)
beans in many varities
cheese (not during lent):(
chicken broth..I buy coscto natural broth
oats Petros loves them for breakfast!
eggs, milk, butter (only the real stuff)
rice (brown and white mixed)
peanut butter
fresh fruit (a must)
Thats it for me, I dont have many of these during lent. Cheese is the hardest to give up for us.
We only have red meat a few times a week!

Helenrr said...

Hey there Carrie, Neat blog! I have almonds dehydrating right now :) Did a ton of spanish peanuts last time.
My top ten staples are:
Bulk organic flours for baking and bread making
Bulk organic oats
Olive or Canola Oil
Spices and Herbs
Chicken broth
Assorted Fruit in Season
Assorted Veggies in Season
Rice, mixed
10 Bean Mix.
Depending on the season (Lent, etc) I add meats, cheeses, and so on. I also utilize tomatoes (costco carries organic now), dried fruits and more to create sauces, soups, granola etc. My kids eat it all up! Take care. Aunt Helen :)

Icon Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Icon Girl said...

Hey, Carrie & all! (Rachel here) My top ten is more like ten groupings of what I always have on hand(organic when I can):

1. EVOO & TJ's liquid concentrate boullion
2. One fresh herb (varying)
3. Rice (brown, white, long & short)
4. "Beans" (cannellini, black, & garbanzo, lentils, split green peas)
5. Canned organic tomatoes, diced
6. Artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers & kalamata olives
7. Onions, garlic, potatoes
8. Lettuce, carrots, avocado & tomatoes, bananas, & apples
9. Almond & Soy "milks"
10. Frozen peas, frozen TJ Gyoza & "Riblets"