Cheap Easy Food Pantry Meals System – Tried-and-True Since WWII

Since we’re talking systems, not simply recipes, we also discuss batching for enormous meals and leftovers. We’re building a pantry section full of everyday ingredients and the sauces that make them burst with flavor. Recommendations for nutritious drinks and deserts focus on flexible ingredients, like oatmeal and popcorn, for less waste. All with a simple system you can use repeatedly.

As you embrace cooking from home, you’ll realize there’s no such thing as the best meal, simply your best meal. Since we use many ingredients in similar ways, you can easily substitute them. If your local grocery has a sale or your neighbor offers you some extra produce, we want you to know all of your options without the shackles of a strict recipe. With this information, you’ll be able to grow beyond recipes and cook for your own pleasure.

(Can, Dry, Freeze, Pickle, Store = Eat Well)

Plan Your Cheap Easy Meals in Advance

Want to know one of the best ways to save money and time while eating healthy? Plan your meals before you shop and you’ll only buy what you need. Shop by price and be open to new recipe ideas. Plan main dishes with seasonal sides and large quantities that can be repurposed or frozen for another meal.

Benefits of Home Meals

Do you feel a preference for eating at restaurants? Many adults have felt the same preference for convenience. However, they eventually found many benefits to preparing and eating meals at home.

  • saves time, money & stress
  • fewer trips to the grocery
  • less time than delivery or pickup
  • more family time
  • children learn food prep and service
  • saves more food money than any other skill
  • only spend what you need
  • generally cheaper than eating out
  • no more wasted money on bad leftovers
  • gives the opportunity to buy other things
  • no frantically searching for food
  • no limitations or rush to speed thaw food
  • healthier and better tasting
  • more control over portion size
  • more exciting food choices
  • more opportunity to find new favorites

Meal planning may be easier than you think. Is it worth a little time to save more time, money and stress in the long run?

Simple Meal Planning Steps:

  • How much can you safely spend on food and what day of the week is most convenient to shop?
  • Based on your family schedule, how many meals will be eaten at home or away and by how many people?
  • What foods does each member of your family like? Do you experiment to find new favorites and add to this list?
  • If you make a two week menu (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and snacks with ingredients for each) then you won’t stress about the next shopping day.
  • Keep track of what you have and plan these items into your menu whenever possible to save money.
  • If you keep a grocery list in the kitchen you won’t have to remember items later.
  • Are any of your favorite menu items on sale this week in the grocery ads?
  • A weekly meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and snacks) for each family member will help save time, reduce stress and help family members stick to their own food selections.

Meal Planning Tips:

  • For speed and convenience, you may want to place equipment and utensils where they will be most often used.
  • To save time and make your food last longer, consider investing in the more expensive appliances like a microwave oven, toaster oven, pressure saucepan, and food processor as you budget allows.
  • For a less stressful meal, consider the prep and cook time for each dish then start with the longest, preparing the other dishes while it cooks. If all times are similar then start with one that will hold up the best.
  • To save clean up time, have you considered using cookware to cook, serve and store your meal.
  • Do you make meal plans flexible based on ingredient availability and sale prices?
  • Meals can be fun for the whole family. Include as many family members as possible and encourage children to help plan and prepare new foods to find their favorites.
  • To avoid scheduling conflicts, post your family schedule on the refrigerator next to your meal plan and shopping list.
  • Do you plan meals with a well balanced variety of nutritious ingredients?
  • Are you adventurous enough to balance family favorites with new recipes.
  • Keep things interesting by Balancing your cooking methods between grill, bake, broil and stir fry.
  • Since leftovers can be boring, especially the same day, what can you add to make them more appealing?
  • Have you considered cooking with friends and trading recipes?

Edible Art

If we eat with our eyes then the best way to prevent boredom at meal time is a variety of foods from each food group. Wouldn’t a dinner full of red, orange, deep yellow, purple and dark green be more appealing than varying shades of white or gray? In general, brighter color fruits and vegetables means more antioxidants. Try to use at least two colorful foods in every meal.

For more variety, try combining crisp, soft, crunchy, chewy, and smooth textures.

Hot, sour, salty and sweet. Combine dishes that bring out the best in each and don’t be afraid to add herbs, spices and other flavorings. Don’t overdo it though, often less is more and you can always add later.

Canned Goods Are Your Friend

Consider these 8 dangers of food storage:

  • Air
  • Chemical contamination
  • Insects
  • Light
  • Moisture
  • Rodents
  • Temperature
  • Time

Consider storing these basic foods:

  • Baking Soda
  • Beans and Other Legumes
  • Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Honey
  • Potato Flakes
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Powder
  • White Sugar

Properly Store Your Food for Zero Waste Cooking

Have you ever had to throw away flour infested with Weevils or limp celery? The secret to making food last longer is proper storage:Food Storage Chart – Shelf Life of Food – Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart

Not sure if something is still good to eat? Find it on StillTasty and learn how to make it last even looooonger next time.

Store Food in Multiple Locations

Consider storing food in the following cool, dry, areas of your home:

  • Below the Stairs
  • Bookshelves
  • Empty Suitcases
  • Floor Spaces
  • Inside Cardboard Boxed
  • Inside Hidden Crawl Spaces
  • Inside the Wall
  • Inside Your Box Spring
  • Kitchen Cabinets
  • Under the Bed

Grow Your Own Food

No land, no problem. Do you know many herbs and vegetables only need water and sunlight? Yes, even those super nutritious, super expensive, microgreens. Read how this Biotech engineer grows enough food in his back yard to help 150,000 children fight malnutrition and how to do it yourself in the videos below.

  • Begin Building Your Food Storage Supply the Right Way
  • Focus on the Longest Shelf Stable and Most Versatile Foods
  • Store What You Eat and Eat What You Store
  • Label Food Storage Containers
  • Store Food in a Cool, Dark Place
  • Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe
  • Money Saved on Food Can Be Used for Other Things
  • Keep a 72-Hour Kit
  • Stock Up On Other Essentials
  • Invest in Items to Barter
  • Be Prepared to Go Without
  • The Best Way to Learn Food Storage – Make It Part of Your Everyday Life
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