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2.17.2010

Buying in Bulk

For some unknown reason I've felt like I'd been hit by a truck the past two days. I wasn't sick (although I got that random mild sore throat I get when I'm tired), just felt like all I wanted to do was sleep and/or sit around and watch TV- and sucks to be me, we canceled our cable last week. My only guess is that my body was rebelling against this couch to 5K program I started Sunday night. But I feel great today!

So, what's up? Well, I was going to combine my Monday and Tuesday posts anyway, so here it is- what I've been up to and a thrifty tip.
Please disregard the crap canned soup and other sundry products on the shelf above. I have a thing for Campbell's tomato soup. I make no apologies for it:)

Anyway,I organized my pantry and, due to my decreased use of packaged and processed foods I was able to make room for some bulk food storage. I have tried to do this in the past but have a tiny pantry and finding room was hard. And I didn't know what products I would use regularly nor how much storage space each would take up, so I ended up with too few bins that were too big.

Before I tell you what I used I have a confession to make. This hippy choose plastic. I don't even remember if I posted about it, but last August I recycled all my plastic food storage containers (most of which was the crappy gladware type) and splurged on glass. I bought a grip of Glass Lock containers and love them- they seal better than most plastic and the glass is good and substantial (even I haven't broken any yet... I've broken Corelleware before. Twice in the last 12 months, actually).

So I know that glass is better. But I also know how much I would have had to pay for that many glass containers, and that they would have been harder to find in the right shape/size. Plus, so far as health goes I am only storing dry food in them. Chemicals tend to leech into food when you either store fatty or protein laden food in plastic and/or heat the plastic. This plastic won't go through any of that abuse and will spend most of it's time in my nice, cool pantry. And my budget didn't allow for glass. So I know, but I made a choice. I figure I'll make it up to the planet by how much less packaging I'll be using and by the fact that I plan on using these containers for a good long time.

Now that's I've covered that, these are the containers I choose this time around. They're snapware (available at Target, but limited range of sizes). The larger containers are the 10.8 cup rectangle and as an example of how much they hold I can fit about 4lbs of white beans in one. I wanted to get the 4.5 cup ones for the things I use smaller amounts of, but they didn't carry that size at Target (not mine, anyway) so those are Sterilite. But they're the same shape and fit, so it works out. They don't have the nice flip open lid on top, but I'll live without that:) Oh, and the rice is in one of my old bulk containers.

I would like to expand this eventually, if we ever move to a house with a larger pantry (God, I hope so...). But for now my staples are as follows- black beans, white beans, popcorn, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, green lentils, quinoa, barley, couscous, lima beans, and rice. I'd also like to have red lentils as a staple but I have the hardest time finding them (and they're so much prettier than the green ones!). As I said, this was another thing I struggled with last time I tried creating bulk storage- what exactly will I use? Thankfully, I was able to learn from that last attempt, and the too-large storage did at least give me the storage space to buy the stuff to begin with (I kept several bags in each container). So I figured out how to use what I bought, since I'd not used dried beans before. And I figured out WHAT I would use. But it's been an evolution. Had I tried this a year ago it might have been different because we weren't eatting as many beans. But between cutting back on meat, stretching my groccery budget, and the kids' food allergies I have been cooking more and more beans and lentils. When I expand I would also like to include whole grains like barley, farro, spelt, triticale... I just have to find places to buy them and ways to cook them.

Speaking of cooking:) My meal plan is mostly done for next week. Lets see if I can finish it right now. I have to say, my iphone has been awesome this week. We all know how much I love my iphone. This past week I transfered my meal planning to my regular ical (had been using a separate calendar, but it turns out the free version had a limit of ten entries...). I've also been using a few great recipe apps (allrecipes.com mostly) and when I find a recipe I like I just put it into the ical. That way I'm not searching and straining to do it all in one night, it's more of an ongoing thing. So here it is:

  • Monday: Citrus honey chicken and potatoes
  • Tuesday: Chicken tacos
  • Wednesday: Mushroom barley lentil stew
  • Thursday: Baked tilapia and brown rice
  • Friday: Vegetable baked ziti
  • Saturday: Pancake night (wheat free pancakes, anyone??... anyone have a recipe for them:)
  • Sunday: Maple Glazed pork chops

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