Sunday, January 17, 2010

Planting an Idea

What to keep in a small store cupboard? Suggest foods that are used regularly. Ideally buy one to use, and one to store, then when you use the first, buy a replacement so you will always have at least one in stock. If storing more than a couple, put new stock at the back so they are used in order of purchase.
Some foods used quite often, such as baked beans and canned tomatoes can be bought as a four-pack, so you can start with more than one to help build up stocks.

Start by working out what you might be needing if unable to go out to shop. Being snowed up (or ill) is usually when we rely most on stored food. Usually during the colder weather, cans of soup (especially the chunky ones) are almost as good as a meal in themselves. Some 'thinner; soups are ideal for using as a base (gravy) when cooking meat or chicken, such as oxtail soup or cream of chicken/mushroom/celery. Cuppa soups also are a good standby for soup or 'gravy'.

Keep a can or two of new potatoes, and a tub or packet of instant potato. Although myself have never bought canned vegetables (other than beans and tomatoes) maybe a can of peas or carrots could find a place on your shelf. Plum tomatoes have more flavour than the chopped, and easy enough to chop ourselves.

A few cans of fruit are also worth keeping in store, for this way we can then still get some of our 5 a day (canned vegetables and baked beans also count, potatoes don't).

It is always worth buying several cans of tuna, sardines, pilchards, and salmon, for not only are they high in omega 3 oils (or most of them are), they also have a very long shelf life.

As to meat, myself rarely buy other than corned beef, but on the odd occasion Spam. A cooked ham can also be bought in tins, and some brands of canned meatballs are quite good.

Longlife milk is a must, also dried milk. Cartons of orange juice also good for storing (counts as part of the 5 a day), but with all 'drinkables' it is important to keep an eye on the use-by/best before date. Most keep only up to 6 months, but a week or so longer would do no harm. In fact with all foods bought to store it is best not to keep them for a rainy day, but as I said above, keep using them in the normal way and in the correct order, and keep replacing them, this way they never get a chance to reach the end of their shelf-life, yet still there will be a cupboard of stores available to be used when going out to shop is not an option. Use the cupboard as a working larder, not as a store-cupboard where food is hoarded 'just in case'.

Rice (various), sugar (various), pasta (various) all keep well and worth buying in bulk to draw upon when needed. A couple or so packs of bread mix might also be useful, certainly plain and self-raising flour plus raising agents to bake all sorts of things, including soda bread.

Dried pulses (various beans and also lentils) also worth keeping, but the older the bean the longer it takes to cook, so these are best used within a year. Once cooked they can then be stored for several months in the freezer.

Often a whole of a can is used when half could have been saved. Corned beef is an example. I always buy the larger tins because they work out cheaper (by weight). Normally we open a tin, cut off what is to be eaten, then the rest goes into the fridge for B and myself to make sarnies later (or may be made into corned beef hash). During a money-saving Challenge my last remaining tin of corned beef will be chilled (makes it easy to cut thinner slices), and the remaining slices will be interleaved and frozen to use for (hopefully) two further meals (as part of a Cold Meat Platter). When having to rely on stores only, cook or use half a can, decant and chill or freeze the remainder to use later. Or cook just half a carrot, half an onion. Not normally necessary, but in time of 'crisis' such as the Challenge, being snowed in, no money left in the purse etc, we should all be able to eke out our rations to make them last a lot longer.

Happened to see the following in the paper yesterday, for as we share our ideas and thoughts - felt this Native American saying was very appropriate. Will return again as usual tomorrow.

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead,
Don't walk in front of me: I may not follow.
Walk beside me that we may be as one."