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Pantry meals, rethining the stockpile, and first garden harvests

May 21st, 2014 at 07:32 am

I've been feeling compelled to try to save some money and use up what we have in the pantry. That, and get rid of clutter. I feel like we have too much stuff. We probably have much less than other families (after all, we can still fit cars in our garage!), but it's just not organized very well. Hopefully, I can remedy this.

So, on my quest to use up pantry food, this week we;ve eaten

-Navy bean soup with ham (the last of the Easter ham), plus pumpkin bread made with a leftover can of pumpkin puree from Thanksgiving.
-tilapia from the freezer, fried in Zatarain's New Orleans fish fry, with leftover yellow rice.
-We made peanut butter cookies in a plan to use what we have rather than buy treats.

I'm also thinking of using up my stockpile of shampoos, and personal care products. I've been reading a lot of about how many toxic chemicals are in personal care products (because U.S. companies can put pretty much anything in them and they don't have to put it on the label) and it can cause all sorts of allergies and health issues. I'm thinking of switching over to the organic brand-ish options.

Those are more expensive, but I was thinking. Do I really need a whole bathroom closet full of shampoo, or can I just buy one or two at a time when I need them? Sure, the less-chemically brands are spendier, but how often do I really buy that stuff? It wouldn't add up to that much more cost every year.

That is what I am thinking. Any input would be appreciated.

And finally, I am getting sooooo close to the first garden harvest. I'm so excited. I have some lettuce that's almost ready to cut, and some peppermint and oregano that are ready to be snipped and dried.

I'm tracking how much money I've spent on my garden ($756 so far, most of it for one-time expenses), and how much I'm getting out of it, plus dollar value of all the fresh goodies. I'm interested to see if we can actually save money by food gardening.

Of course, this year, we had a lot of infrastructure improvements, like importing 10 cubic yards of compost, building new raised beds and trellises, etc., that will not be among our expenses next year. But if we can break even this year, we will be profitable next year!

I also had a new vision. A few weeks ago, I traded some of my seedlings for firewood. What a great deal.

My hope is that as our production grows, we can set up more of these kinds of trades for things we need and want but can't produce: I'm thinking firewood, honey, eggs, etc. I'm good at starting seeds and I have perennial flowers to share, so maybe over time, we can make something like that work.

10 Responses to “Pantry meals, rethining the stockpile, and first garden harvests”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I like your plan on the bath products. I limit my makeup and perfume usage because of this. I haven't switched soaps or shampoos yet, but I think it is a good health choice. Some things are worth paying more for!

    I also like your plan of bartering for things you need with the plants you have!

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    I don't know if it's just a regional thing (not a lot of space here), but I have never understood "stocking up". I find a high quality shampoo may last me 6 months to a year. I buy two of everything when I replace. So that means maybe I shop for toiletries like once a year. & like ccfree, try to keep the chemicals/products to a minimum. (I was just talking about this with my spouse because he buys a cheaper shampoo and I have to use way more of it with every wash. I'd rather buy the more expensive shampoo that lasts several times longer). I think we also just put a lot more focus on using things sparingly.

    Our pantries are fairly bare, accordingly. Way too many years of absolutely no kitchen space in the past, I guess. I feel like we stock up, but just no need to STOCK UP! For example, my spouse bought 4 large sausages on sale a couple of weeks back and threw them in the fridge. I asked if he was going to freeze any for later?? Nope, I think he used them all up already. (Like cured sausage that would last a month). Stock up and use it. & if it's on sale now, like shampoo, just buy 2 now and buy 2 on sale next year. The sales will always be there.

    Going more organic or home-made is something I want to do eventually but is just of low priority at the moment. Will be curious to hear what you come up with.

  3. My English Castle Says:

    I agree it's sort of crazy to have those gigantic stockpiles. DD has taken to watching Extreme Couponing, and we just shudder at some of these folks with 150 bottles of shampoo, 60 jars of mustard, etc. I've been making an effort to use all those hotel bottles and sample bottles of lotion. But shampoo? I buy two bottles a year for me. My DH has real hoarding tendencies so I'm trying to, like you, cook my way through some of the things he bought while I was in the UK.


  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    Okay Okay, let me just say I DON'T have a stockpile anything like those coupon people! I have one narrow but deep bathroom closet, and one shelf has extra bottles of shampoo/ conditioner, hair dye, and things like toothpaste and stuff. We're talking 5 or 6 bottles of each here. ; )

    As for the food stockpile, we have one because we buy our meat from a local farmer and get a big delivery, and, I home-can a lot of produce from my 1000 square foot food garden. I need to use all that stuff up before it's time to can more. Other than that, it's just freezer and regular cupboards of stuff.

    The main issue is just feeling overwhelmed by stuff. I have limited time, I hate cleaning, and I hate organizing and straightening up. Less stuff equals less of that to deal with. Is my hope.

  5. snafu Says:

    I suggest making a small batch of organic shampoo [lots of variations on You Tube] to see if you like it before buying the truly expensive brands.

  6. snafu Says:

    We like to enjoy summer and participate in all the fun things offered in our community plus we get a lot of visitors. Several years ago we decided to 'Zen' our home during the summer. All flat surfaces are kept as clear as possible. Cold weather stuff is packed up and summer stuff is limited, few clothes as possible, bureau drawers limited to basics needed nearly daily. Meals are mostly based on salads with 4 oz of protein. DH loves to grill and takes over a lot of cooking. It's really a relief to minimize housework, laundry, and daily routine.

  7. aukxsona Says:

    I feel like I have too much as well and I regularly go through things and give them away.

    Also, make your own shampoo...cheaper, safer, and probably will work better.

    We are working towards zenning. All winter is packed up in April and kept packed till November. We use mostly salads, grilled, or cooked in the solar oven or crock pot foods all summer. I can some though every summer. Hard to make a house zen like with 6 kids though.

  8. My English Castle Says:

    I completely understand, Thrift. I hate so much stuff too!

  9. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    You can make your own soap pretty easily - then no chemicals in it, and you can make just what you need when you need it. Smile

  10. MonkeyMama Says:

    My own comments were not about extreme hoarding.

    "The main issue is just feeling overwhelmed by stuff. I have limited time, I hate cleaning, and I hate organizing and straightening up. Less stuff equals less of that to deal with. Is my hope. "

    Exactly. I think even small stockpiles can create stress. If they work, they work. But I will say it's much easier not to have to keep track of all that stuff. I do try to keep two of everything for that middle ground. (So you aren't stuck with running out of something at an inopportune time). But otherwise, there isn't a lot of stuff filling up my closets or my brain space.

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