Okay, I will admit, I sometimes get lazy. I get lazy when it comes to shopping. It sometimes seems easier to just buy cans of beans or to buy pizza sauce already made. Plus the fact that I love when my pantry is full or at least looks like it is full.
But the reality is that my “full” pantry was just a bunch of cans and boxes of store bought items. Not much of it was homemade and good for my family.
For many years, when I had lots of little ones, building my pantry with wholesome, homemade, not filled with preservatives or additives foods, was not something I was able to do. But now, it is something I MAKE time to do, because I can. Plus we have the resources, it helps to have a large freezer to freeze things in, otherwise I would have to can them.
One of my goals this summer was to cut down on our grocery bill by making items that I could and usually do buy. I also wanted to improve the nourishment that I was feeding to my children. I had to start somewhere.
I started the summer by making our own popsicles and frozen treats. Were they all totally healthy??? No, some were not, but it sure made our needs to go to our local ice cream shop disappear.
It was also nice when we had guests over this summer to be able to share a frozen snack. At the beginning of summer we made enough to last us 2 months worth, well worth my time. Plus with a family of 12 it saved a bundle in frozen treats this summer!!
I have been saving my Parmesan cheese containers and have been wanting to fill them with some staples that I buy at the store.
I purchased all of my spices at a Bulk Food store rather inexpensively. Don’t buy them from Walmart they will cost much. Look at buying them online in bulk, to save a bunch.
Here I made my own Taco Seasoning—which my family loves because it is super spicy–don’t worry you can tone it down.
I made this 2 months ago and have not bought another packet of taco seasoning. Click here for my recipe.
Ok my other HUGE weakness when it came to preparing food was chicken bouillon. I added chicken bouillon to everything to make it taste better. Put some in my macaroni and cheese, added it to black beans and rice, I am afraid to even look through all my recipes because they all probably say to add 1-2 Tablespoons of chicken bouillon!!! It just makes it taste better. Well I know that the stuff I was buying was loaded with salt, and many additives, it was one of the first things to go. I made a batch of this up and I honestly LOVE it!!! I sprinkle it on everything and don’t feel guilty at all!! The cost is relatively about the same as the chicken bouillon base I was buying, but you are getting a much better healthy alternative.
Try this, you won’t go back to the other additive loaded stuff!!!
Ok next we made our own baking powder WITHOUT aluminum. I know everything is bad for us in some sort of way. Aluminum is something I would like to avoid feeding to my children. And if I know that there is an easier alternative I will try it. We have been using this and it works great.
I also have replaced our iodized salt with sea salts. The internet is full of information of why you should switch. Decide for yourself.
I have also been busy this week cooking dry beans and then freezing them for later use.
These are the kinds that we use in our family:
black beans–for Haitian rice and beans
garbanzo beans–for hummus
kidney beans–for red beans and rice
northern beans—for baked beans
red beans–made into chili beans–for lots of recipes
pinto beans pureed into refried beans
How I cooked them was in my big roaster oven and crockpot. I would pour bags of beans into the oven and crockpot and cover with water. I made sure that the beans could double in size and still have plenty of water. I turned them on high to boil and then down to a simmer and let them run. I would test the beans every few hours until they were done. Very simple to do and when finished, I scooped them out and put them into plastic containers and froze them.
This saves a bunch of money on canned beans. Plus it helps me to be prepared for my days otherwise I have frozen beans when I need to make a meal.
I also buy lots of tomato products. I will buy tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and diced tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, salsa, tomatoes and green chills. I know pathetic right????
Well I decided to just buy a large can of tomato paste. I can get the super size 10 pound can for about $4. With this I separate the can into smaller pint sized plastic containers and freeze. If I need to make tomato soup and need tomato juice, I just get out my tomato paste and add water to it. I do the same thing if a recipe calls for tomato sauce, just add less water.
This week, I have been busy making my own pizza sauce and then freezing it.
This is so simple to make, I don’t know why I was WASTING the money buying jarred sauce. Here is the recipe that we use. It has sauce and paste in this recipe, but I have just been using paste and adding enough water to a consistency that is suitable for my family.
We like to have our pizza buffet nights and this recipe goes great with that.
They could put ranch on everything. We have to limit this much. I know the dressing is not good for them when after the little ones eat it, they are messier and it leaves a red rash on their face. I started buying the ranch packets and mixing it with sour cream, thinking I was being a “better Mom” by making it “homemade.” Silly lady, well I decided to just make a mix of it and then make it as we need it. It is much harder to use it, if it is not readily available in the refrigerator:)
Here are some other ideas that I am going to make this month as I rid my pantry of foods that I can make from scratch:
pita bread–every month we goto the bread store, I grab all the packages of pita bread. This is great for quick sandwiches, pizzas, or cut up to eat with hummus. But I know that I can make it and am excited to do so.
homemade salsa–click here for an easy version to make anytime of year. We decided to do away with jarred salsa, and as soon as we are out this month, will be making this one.
We are going back to making yogurt each month again. I make it with powdered milk—cheaper and we like to make it into a smoothie drink. I can make enough for 2-3 weeks at one time.
These are some items that we are going to eliminate from our food rotation, starting this month. Will we bring any back?? Maybe,but for now, I am going to see what we can use as a “better” alternative. Will keep you posted over this month.
canned vegetables—replacing them with fresh produce—I realized my little ones do like salad when offered.
white saltine crackers—my go-to when I am rushed–crackers and peanut butter—no more, we will replace with some other snacks—will keep you posted–I am thinking of making my own again like I have done in the past.
garbage bag snack mix-—oh my children love this, I do too!!! But I am refusing to make this at least for a few months to see how we can do without another one of our favorite snacks.
No more canola or vegetable oil—-I would get lax and buy it for making boxed brownies or cupcakes for birthdays —meanwhile it takes only a few moments to melt my coconut oil that I have when I make my breads. Just need to take the time, after doing some reading on how they make that stuff—yikes!!! Not good at all–something about Drano?!?!?
No more margarines– only butter. I would buy it for making cookies and things—well than if you have a little bit in the refrigerator it will get used for other things as well, this goes along the lines of the bad rap for canola/vegetable oils and drano?!?!? Need to avoid, even if it means more money.
No more weekly chips and pop. My husband and I enjoy a favorite snack on the weekend—well everyone does but this is mainly for us. He would get Doritoes and I would get those wonderful Kettle cooked salt and pepper chips—oh so good and I can eat an entire bag!!!! So bad. We are skipping out on that and going with fresh fruit and vegetables. We said if we were craving and needed something salty, we would go back to our favorite of winter time—air popped popcorn. Super inexpensive–I still have 25 lbs in my basement. Why am I wasting?!?!?!?
bacon bits—some might think this is weird, but we buy many of these and used them in breakfast burritos, or just to top our eggs off in small portions. But the reality of it, is that this stuff is NOT good. My alternative—-I bought turkey bacon and will be baking it in the oven and then food processing it and putting it into small containers to freeze for use.
We will also be buying less ground chuck each month and making Bulgar burger–something I will post on soon. I did it before, I must do it again!
Okay, did I write a novel or what?!?!!? I promise not to be away so long, I feel like I have to get it all in. If I have more that we are replacing, I will be sure to write about it this month.
Do you have any store bought foods that you have replaced with your own homemade ingredients??