Much of the store cupboard is dried goods that need soaking and cooking. Even pasta or rice which is relatively quick to cook, isn't going to tempt you for a quick snack in its dried state. Other stuff is more problematic. Tins of tuna and olives become delicious on toast (bread taken from 3 loaves of bread in the freezer because they were on offer) in about two minutes.
|My store cupboard - yes I know you've seen it before.|
The big problem starts when you cook it up into ready meals. A big part of the store cupboard philosophy is cooking in batches and filling your freezer. Whilst I'm not going to defrost a whole cottage pie because I feel like a nibble, one or two (or more) pastries, a slice of pizza, a muffin, can all be zapped in the microwave in the blink of an eyelid.
Most of my store cupboard know-how comes from my store cupboard guru Elaine Colliar from Mortgage Free in Three. As I wrote two days ago, Elaine's store cupboard is far superior to any other I've seen. Here are a few tips I've picked up from Elaine and other bloggers who are trying to budget and eat well at the same time.
1. Store large quantities of food in portions according to what you need for one meal or recipe. For example, a cake can be sliced and bagged separately for one slice to be taken out for tea, a dessert, or for a packed lunch. Cheese can be divided into portions suitable for various planned recipes and meals before freezing it in baggies. If something is assigned it is less likely to disappear in a peckish moment.
2. Plan your weekly menus including breakfast and afternoon tea so that each of your portions in the freezer are accounted for. If you take three slices of pizza or three muffins from the freezer one night in an uncontrollable binge, that's three suppers for your child or three packed lunches that you will have to replace.
3. Don't cook too much. Make double or even treble portions to stock the freezer certainly, but don't feed the freezer with no end in sight. If you have enough cooked and frozen food for a half-year menu plan, stop cooking and eat out of your freezer for a while. Freshly cooked is much nicer and it's about having all the ingredients in the house, not about saving time in the kitchen. This does not apply when you can get a load of fresh produce very cheaply and it will go off. In this case cook it all up and fill the freezer.
4. Don't buy too much 1. Even if food is on offer, you don't have to buy enough for the year. This doesn't fit in with the store cupboard philosophy anyway. The directive is to buy one item each time you shop that you can put in the store cupboard and to buy that one item at a reduced price. That way you are constantly re-stocking at very little extra expense. 3 for 2 or bogofs are excellent for this.
|The weekly shop at 173nis (about 31GBP)|
5. Don't buy too much 2. Even though the 10 small packets of crisps packaged together are better value than individual packets, you only need to buy one package of 10 at a time. These are not on special offer they are economy packed. You can buy them at this price whenever you run out. 50 packets of crisps under the stairs is just asking for trouble. (My weakness is crisps, you can substitute biscuits or chocolate or whatever your poison.)
6. Get into the spirit (the zone?) of the frugal living challenge. I'm much more excited about the thought of decimating my food bills than I am by a slice of re-heated pizza at 11pm. It also helps to have some coping strategies in place like a good book on the go to entice me into bed early. Another trick I have is to sip soda water all evening. I have 1.5 litre bottles in the fridge and I can get through a whole bottle in an evening with twists of lemon or fresh mint added. It feels like a cocktail (of sorts) and a bit of a treat.
7. Health. Nothing tastes as good as losing weight (if you need to) and having your meals planned and your food budget accounted for is a sure way to do this. And even if you don't need/want to lose weight, you eat better and more healthily by cooking from scratch.
8. Other benefits. 1. There is nothing so satisfying as a store cupboard you know will feed you and your family through strikes, shortages, illness, temporary unemployment, etc... 2. I lied, there is one thing even more satisfying... a weekly food bill no one will believe. Not only for the smugness of it but also the increased spending power in other areas.
9. Gifts. You may have enough jars of home made jam and chutneys to cover all your Christmas presents. Well your children will probably want something else but you know what I mean.
Do you have an amazing store cupboard? Leave a comment below or blog about it and tweet me @midlifesinglem .