Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back to the Basics

Our kitchen is pretty well organized, but I'm refining it a bit. And I'm making a list of "basics," stuff I should always have on hand.

Now, I like the feel of a well-stocked kitchen. I like a kitchen - and fridge - that prompts the comment, "Well, I could eat for a week out of this!"

We used to say, "There was nothing in the cupboard but a can of tuna and Mom could make a meal!"

When I was a stay-at-home mom with 3 little kids, no car, and a husband who got paid only once a month, I learned how to feed everyone all month and not run out of groceries before the next check. On my monthly grocery shopping trip I always bought these items:
  • 2-3 rolls of Jimmy Dean sausage (they freeze well)
  • 6-8 cans tuna (they were 7.5 oz back then, not 5 or 6)
  • 2-3 large packages of chicken (most went into the freezer in small packages when I got home)
  • 2-3 large packages of hamburger (same as with the chicken)
  • 1-2 large packages of beef (mostly chuck roast, most put into the freezer as above)
  • 1-2 packages of pork chops or pork roast (again, making good use of that freezer)
  • 2-3 packages of hot dogs
  • 1 small canned ham
  • 1 large ham steak - or a ham if on sale and I had the money
  • 2 lb brick cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 dozen eggs (eggs keep a long time)
  • 1 large box powdered skim milk
  • 1-2 cans baked beans
  • 1 box saltine crackers
  • 3-4 large cans frozen orange juice
  • 4-5 cans tomato paste
  • 2-3 large boxes of spaghetti
  • canned and frozen vegetables
  • fresh fruits & vegetables for the first week (although apples easily last a month)
  • 1-2 large boxes of Cheerios, Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies
  • one 6-pack of Pepsi (for me - I hid them)
  • 1 roll of quarters (lunch money for the first grader - exact change required)
There were certain staples I kept on hand, always:
  • flour (white and whole wheat)
  • yeast
  • wheat germ
  • rice
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • baking soda
  • corn starch
  • vanilla, cinnamon, maple flavoring
  • spice cans of parsley, oregano, sage, chili powder
  • dried beans (always navy/pea beans, sometimes kidney beans)
  • honey
  • peanut butter
  • oatmeal
  • cream of wheat
  • cocoa
I think that covers most of what I depended on. What I did not want, need, or buy were:
  • bottled water (did they even sell it back then?)
  • Lunch ables and such
  • bologna, salami, pepperoni, etc.
  • individual packages of anything, like hot chocolate, oatmeal, crackers, etc.
  • deli meats
  • prepared bread crumbs, or croutons
  • pre-packaged salads, pre-cut fruit in the produce department
  • sodas or Kool-Aid for the kids. They were deprived; had to drink milk, fruit juice or water. 
All the stuff I listed above made for a very full grocery cart (or 2). I remember at least one time being asked by the bagger, "Are you opening up a camp or something?"

I looked like I had a daycare with me: Andy on my tummy in the baby carrier, Beth in the cart, and Paul hanging onto the side (there was hell to pay if he let go!).

Where was my husband? Working 60+ hours/week for K-Mart. He hated shopping.

I think he worked a lot of evenings and ate out quite a bit too, especially toward the end of the month. And I know he had his own stash of Pepsi!

Are you wondering what I did about things you have to buy at least weekly - like milk and bread? Well, stay tuned....

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