15 Pantry Staples to Get You Cooking From Scratch

Over the few years of nearly eliminating processed food from my meals, I’ve found there are 15 ingredients I always like to have on hand that set the foundations of many homecooked meals. Today I’m sharing those with you as sort of a “step one” in cooking your own meals from scratch at home!

Watch the video or if reading is more your style, check out the list below!

Eating on a Budget: The $30 Weekly Grocery Bill Goal Week 2

I am so proud of us this week, we almost hit our goal by spending $32.50 on groceries! If only I could have made myself buy the $2 over the $4 butter...

I was a little embarrassed to post about last week's budget goal. I only planned for 5 meals and we spent $8 over because of impulse purchases. This week, however, I had a lot of fun planning the meals and provided 7 nights worth of dinners! That $6 bacon I bought last week and didn't use? I incorporated it into 3 meals this week. This is what the budget is all about: plan meals based on what you have in your pantry/refrigerator/freezer to minimize your grocery bill each week.

Notes on This Week:

  • That chicken corn chowder I made last week gave us so many leftovers that we had it for lunch 3 days this week! Other days I made sandwiches with leftover lunch meat from the previous week (if you ran out make egg salad or PBJs)
  • I was planning on doing a peanut chicken and broccoli dinner for day 3, but we forgot to buy broccoli. Womp womp. So instead of going back to the store and increasing our grocery bill for the week, I just found a different recipe that didn't need broccoli!
  • Andrew found a great deal on bone-in chicken thighs: we got 10 for $7! We only used 4 this week so the other 6 went into the freezer for future meals
  • we will be eating a lot of potatoes in the future...I got 10lbs for a dollar!

Recipes Made

Day 1: Beer Brats with Cabbage and German Potato Salad

Day 2: Lemon Spaghetti

Day 3: Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken Thighs with mashed potatoes and summer squash

Day 4: Beer Bratwurst leftovers

Day 5: BLT Chopped Salad

Day 6: Brown Sugar Chicken Thighs Leftovers

Day 7: Potato Crepes with Bacon and Green Onions (Recipe coming soon!)

Groceries for the week:

  • Coconut Milk: $1.99 (did not use this week)
  • Spaghetti $0.89
  • Queso Cheese: $2.59
  • 2 Avocados: $2.00
  • Baby Spinach: $2.99
  • French Bread: $1.69
  • Chicken Thighs: $7.08
  • Red Cabbage: $3.28
  • 2 Ears Corn: $0.99
  • Butter (I can't not buy the expensive stuff!): $3.99
  • Fresh Bratwurst: $4.00
  • Russet Potatoes (on sale 10lbs for a dollar!) $1.00
  • Yogurt (bulk): $3.29

Total Amount Spent: $32.50

Food for this week I already had in the pantry:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Bacon
  • Lemons
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Onions

Last Note

As I mentioned on last week's budget post, the key to all this is planning your meals based on what you already have on hand. Before I started this budget I would get wrapped up in recipes I found on Pinterest that called for a million different ingredients we didn't have. I'd buy those ingredients then forget what recipe I wanted to make! Now that I'm on this budget, I can still use my favorite recipes from Pinterest but plan on making ones that I don't need to buy much for. I also write down what dinner will be every day so I don't forget my plan. I hope this week has inspired you to plan ahead as well!

And if you missed week 1 of the mega-raging budget, click here!

Happy Budgeting!

Eating on a Budget: The $30 Grocery Bill Goal Week 1

Hi friends! Last week I started our "mega raging budget" challenge of only spending $30 a week on groceries while still maintaining our healthy lifestyle. "How is that even possible?!" you may ask. Well this week I went over a bit, but hey it was the first week! We have had a lot of friends doubt that this can happen so although this post isn't about wine pairings, I want to share with you how with a little planning and good mindset we are severely minimizing our grocery bill every week.

Why Dani, Why?

We want to buy a house! Yes, we just moved to Reno in March and just paid for a wedding. But this is a goal of ours. Housing prices are skyrocketing in the area because the town is growing. If we were to wait a few years, we'd be spending a lot more on the same house we were to buy this year. Besides, the rental we are in is nice and all, but its far away and just doesn't feel like home.

Queue the $30 a week grocery bill goal! Now you'll have to excuse me, some recipes I make for blogging purposes can't be in this total. Andrew and I agreed that the blog should be on a separate budget, so I am allowed one pricier meal per week to blog about (steak doesn't exactly fit the $30/week idea). But after this week I will be posting what we did in a 7 day timeline so you can see how we stretched our grocery bill over an entire week. Oh and all these pairings I've been doing? I'm just going through the inventory at my house...no wine buying for me till we reach our goal!

Overview of Week 1

Like exercising, isn't week one always the hardest?? That's what I told myself. Week 1 did have some challenges. There were a few impulse purchases and bad planning that tacked on about $10 extra to the bill (I didn't use or plan for the $6 bacon I bought for Andrew. But I will be using it to make multiple meals next week!). Overall I spent $38.22 on groceries this week.

Biggest mistake in week 1 was that I did not plan for our weekend meals--with good reason! Saturday was my birthday and Sunday I planned on blogging all day. I also worked late one night so Andrew just made himself an egg. So this week I only have 5 dinners to report. Please don't yell at me saying the grocery plan was only for 5 days though! Instead, let it inspire you to find ingredients in your freezer or pantry to make up for the last 2 days. Or simply have leftovers! The chicken corn chowder soup I made gave us a whopping 7 servings. We've been eating it for lunch all this week but it could easily have served us for dinner too.

Recipes Made

This week I focused on creating multiple meals from a whole roasting chicken. The chicken cost $6.39 and we made 3 dinner meals, a ton of leftover soup for future lunches, and 9 cups of chicken broth that I'm storing in the freezer. This is one of the easiest ways to stretch your budget for the week.

Day 1: Pan-Fried Pork Chops and Green Beans

Day 2: Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

Day 3: Chicken Burrito Bowls and Slow-Cooker Chicken Broth

Day 4: Chicken Corn Chowder Soup (made 7 servings!)

Day 5: Walnut and Parsley Linguine

Notes on this week:

  • We are not Breakfast People. I buy $3.29 bulk vanilla yogurt at whole foods and make my own granola. This feeds me breakfast for about 2 weeks. This week I did not need to buy any breakfast yogurt. (Get out of the cereal routine...making your own granola is so much cheaper!
  • Lunches this week were purely sandwiches with the lunch meat, lettuce, and bread I bought. In the future I will be omitting lunch meat, however, because I don't have $5 a week to spend on that. I will be doing leftovers, salads, and PBJs (if necessary) for future weeks' lunches.

Final note: Some ingredients needed for these recipes we already had in the pantry. Obviously if you are duplicating what I did this week but you don't have, say, rice...that will add some dollars to your grocery bill.  Use my schedule as a motivator to see what you can do with $30 of groceries for the week based on what you have in your pantry!

What I bought at the grocery store:

  • Cheddar Cheese: $2.49
  • Whole Milk: $3.29
  • Eggs: $1.99
  • Cilantro: $0.99
  • Whole Chicken: $6.39
  • Pork Chops: $4.39 (for 6 thin chops, had 4, froze 2 for a later date)
  • Russet Potatoes: $1.04
  • Green Onions: $0.69 (not used this week)
  • Green Beans: $0.82
  • 4 Tomatoes: $2.06
  • Romaine Lettuce: $1.29
  • 1 Anaheim Pepper: $0.28
  • 1 Summer Squash: $0.72
  • Bacon: $5.99 (not used this week)
  • Lunch Bread: $1.50
  • Lunch Meat: $4.69

Total spent on groceries: $38.62

Total $ of items actually used this week: $29.88

Ingredients I Already Had

  • linguine
  • walnuts
  • parsley
  • chile in adobo sauce (1 can was used for two meals!)
  • rice

Last Note

Unless you live within 10 miles of me and shop at the same grocery store in the same week, the price of your groceries WILL be different! So please use my meal plan from week 1 as an inspiration for you to make one of your own! I think buying a whole chicken and making multiple meals with it is amazing, but do what works for you--if you have a ton of chicken in the freezer, focus on that instead and use the $30 to purchase veggies and pantry items. I'll be reporting next week on our 2nd week of $30 groceries...and hint hint...we did much better in week 2!

Happy Budgeting!