Tag Archives: Reader request

Reader Request, part 2: What’s in your cabinet?

I’m following up my super exciting post on my fridge with what’s in my cabinet? I always have a random assortment of stuff in my cabinets that I keep in these glass jars, which helps me see when I’m running low on stuff, and it also makes cooking easier when you don’t have to fumble with annoying packaging. Most of the stuff in these jars changes often based on super random impulse buys at Trader Joe’s.

My fave dry goods (lowest cost in green):

Oats: I’m a sucker for oats, but Kath wrote the book on oatmeal, so I’m not even going to go there on this blog. Check out her site for a zillion ideas! I usually buy rolled oats (not instant – trust me, its worth the extra 3 mins!) from Costco or the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

  • Trader Joe’s: $.13 per oz
  • Whole Foods (bulk bin): $.08 per oz
  • Costco: $.04 per oz

Quinoa: I always have this on hand to use in place of rice, which I dislike. (Anyone else think eating rice tastes like you have mouse droppings in your mouth? No? Huh). I usually buy my quinoa at Costco, but its in the bulk bins at Whole Foods as well if you don’t want to make a Costco-sized commitment. When I encounter a recipe that calls for rice or couscous, I usually use quinoa because I prefer the taste, and it cooks a bit quicker than brown rice.

  • Trader Joe’s: $3.99 per lb (box)
  • Whole Foods (bulk bin): $2.99 per lb
  • Costco: $2.25 per lb (comes in a 4 lb bag)

Black Beans: I usually buy cans of black beans at Costco and keep them on hand for quick dinners. Its so easy to throw together tacos or toss some black beans on a salad for a quick week night meal. Note: the cheapest option is definitely to buy dry beans and cook them, but for some reason I haven’t tried this yet! I’ll be sure to blog about it when I do.

  • Trader Joe’s: $1.19 can (organic), $.89 can (non-organic)
  • Whole Foods: $.99 can (organic)
  • Costco: $.62 can (organic)

Nuts & seeds: I always keep a few varieties of nuts on hand. Right now I have in my pantry: sliced almonds, walnut pieces, pecans, and pumpkin seeds (pepitas). As long as I have one of these, its easy to substitute into any baking recipe. And I love topping a salad with seeds for some crunch.  Since I’ve given up sugar for Lent, its handy to have some seeds and nuts around to cure my sweet tooth with a sad excuse for trail mix of: pumpkin seeds, raisins, and cacao nibs.

Protein powder: I’m pretty picky about my protein powders since a lot of them contain metals (gross!). I like Sun Warrior Vanilla and Vega Vanilla Chai since these are vegan and have great nutritional content. The Vanilla Hemp Protein powder at Trader Joe’s is good in a pinch (some people think this tastes too “woody” but I don’t really notice it)! I usually buy Sun Warrior and Vega online when they are having a deal (I get their emails). They seem expensive, but I use about a tablespoon at a time so they last forever.

Chia seeds: Loove these. They have all the benefits of flax seeds (read: Omega-3s) but don’t need to be ground up (did you know that the body can’t utilize the omegas in flax seeds unless they are ground?). I put these in my morning smoothie, in oatmeal, or use them to substitute for an egg in baked goods. I’m sure you can get a great deal on these online, but I have found Navita’s Naturals brand 1 pound bags for $9.99 at Whole Foods, so I usually  just pick them up there. Since I only use about a tablespoon at a time, one bag lasts a long time.

So here’s whats in my easy-access grain shelf currently:

And the pantry:

Top shelf:

  • Misc oils, baking powder, whole flax seeds*, cacao nibs
  • Sliced almonds, whole raw almonds, unsweetened coconut

Middle shelf:

Bottom shelf:

  • Powdered sugar, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar

These pictures make our kitchen look far more organized than it actually is, so don’t be fooled. Let’s call a spade a spade: I’m a lot of things, but organized just ain’t of them.

In other whats-in-my-cabinet/fridge news, here’s what happens if you let me loose in Stanley’s with $30:

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*Note: flax seeds are a great way to get fiber and Omega-3s into your diet. But they are a little complicated: your body can’t digest them whole (probably because our teefs aren’t good at grinding seeds!), but they oxidize quickly when ground, and there is little nutritional value once they are oxidized. For this reason, I buy them whole and grind them in our coffee grinder before using. If this is too much work for you, buy the ground flaxseed meal (they have this at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods) and store it in your fridge or freezer in an airtight container after you open it.

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Reader Request: what’s in your fridge?

A loyal reader recently asked me to do a post about the essentials I keep in my fridge. A few months ago, I might have considered taking a picture of the inside of my fridge for this post. But ever since Kath showed us in the inside of her fridge, I’ve been very self conscious about my fridge. Attempts to minimize the contents were met with tears, so I’ve finally accepted that my fridge will always be jam-packed with leftovers and produce.

I’ll do one post on my perishables and another on dry goods. Here’s what I have to have every week, or I’ll prolly starve:

My Perishables (lowest cost option is in green):

Unsweetened vanilla almond milk: I’m a big fan of almond milk because I don’t like cow’s milk (lots of reasons – this could be a whole post in itself – but suffice it to say that I first started straying from milk when I noticed that I would feel really badly on my Saturday morning runs after I had dairy on Friday – I was lethargic and sometimes would get sick). Needless to say, there is a lot of controversy around soy, so don’t prefer soy milk. I already have tofu in my diet, and adding soy milk to that would put me over the edge in the soy department.

You can get the 365 brand almond milk at Whole Foods, which is my fave. Almond Breeze is also good and they have it at most regular grocery stores. I use this for my morning smoothie every day, and its sooo delish with cereal or granola. If you have never tried it, you can get a 32 oz carton at Trader Joe’s or Jewel (local grocery store), which is low-commitment. Here’s the price breakdown:

  • Trader Joe’s: $.05 to .06 per oz, depending on brand. They have both Almond Breeze and Pacific brands. I believe Pacific is organic and usually its a little cheaper.
  • Whole foods: $.05 per oz for the 365 brand. Note that this is based on the refrigerated half gallons ($3.39 regular price). They also have shelf-stable options, but I don’t usually stop in that aisle so I haven’t price compared in a while. Based on taste, the 365 brand is my fave.
  • Costco: $.04 per oz. Costco sells the Silk brand, which is sweetened (slightly higher calorie and has evaporated cane juice), but you really can’t beat the price. This comes out to $2.66 for a half gallon, which is almost $.75 cheaper than Whole Foods.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional stats. Note that the Silk brand is sweetened, so it has added sugar and calories. The 365 brand also has the shortest ingredient list (always a plus in my book) and doesn’t have the elusive “natural flavors” as part of the ingredient list. If you are wondering why I have all three of these in the house right now available for photos, see my initial comment about messy fridge. I also hoard things when they go on sale.

Bananas: I always have these on hand for smoothies and snacks!

  • Trader Joe’s: anywhere from $.29 to $.49 per pound
  • Whole foods: closer to $.99 per pound, but I usually don’t pay attention because I’m not crazy enough to think they will be cheaper here
  • Costco: $.27 to $.44 per pound

Spinach: I try to have this on hand to toss into my morning smoothie and up the nutritional content – it becomes a Green Monster! Its also great to have on hand for a quick mid-week dinner salad. The best deal I have found for spinach is the huge tubs at Costco, but there is a produce market by us (Stanley’s for you locals) that is much cheaper, but non-organic. Spinach is something I prefer to buy organic since it’s one of the dirty dozen.

  • Trader Joe’s: $.33 per oz (organic)
  • Whole Foods: $.37 per oz (organic)
  • Costco: $.24 per oz (organic)
  • Stanley’s: $.15 per oz (non-organic)

Lemons: I can’t drink my water plain, so I always keep lemons on hand to keep my water interesting!

  • Costco: $1.29 per pound
  • Stanley’s: $.98 per pound

Kale: I really love kale for juicing and for making kale chips! If you’ve never made kale chips before, I highly recommend them lieu of potato chips next time you are making burgers.

  • Whole Foods: usually $2.49 per bunch (organic)
  • Stanley’s: $1.49 to 1.98 per bunch (organic)

Morningstar Black Bean Burgers: I usually buy the big Morningstar bean burgers at Costco because I love these so many ways: scrambled with an egg, crumbled on a salad, or wrapped in a tortilla with some avocado. They are $13.69 for a 12 pack of big burgers (note these are 4 oz burgers, which are bigger than the 2.75 oz burgers sold in regular grocery stores).

Eggs: Some days, I just really crave a scrambled egg on toast with a little cheese, so I try to keep eggs in the fridge most of the time. I splurge a bit and get free range organic because I’m paranoid and I don’t buy them that often so its worth the spurge (here’s a simple guide to eggs). I don’t usually price compare these because I just pick them up at Whole Foods when I run out, and they are less than $3 for a dozen (at $.25 each, that’s a pretty cheap and quick dinner!).

Tofu: I usually have this in my fridge to make my version of a chocolate milkshake!! Its a nice protein boost for smoothies and I use it for desserts or stir fry occasionally. I typically buy firm because its the most versatile. My favorite tofu is sold at the farmer’s market by Tiny Greens, but when I can’t make it to the farmer’s market…

  • Trader Joe’s: $.11 per oz for organic firm tofu and $.09 per oz for non-organic firm.
  • Whole Foods: $.12 per oz for organic 365 brand.

Avocado: I like to have one or two avocados on hand to add to fish tacos (post forthcoming) and salads. They never go bad in our house. The price for these are so volatile depending on the time of year, so I usually pick these up at Stanley’s. Avocados are on the clean dozen list, so I don’t fret too much about buying organic.

I think that about covers it for perishables. I always have random fruits and vegetables around as well. This week I stocked up on oranges, grapefruits, and brussels sprouts, so those are currently spilling out of the fridge and fruit bowl. I’ll be back with my must-have dry goods!

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