Making the most out of what you’ve got

Dried red beans

Because it’s been so beautiful out, we’ve changed some of our usual eating and cooking habits for the summer. We’ve been eating out a bit more and have been sharing more meals with friends. To counteract the cost of eating out more often, we’ve slowed down our grocery shopping routine (Incidentally that is not very hard to do considering you don’t need to cook as often if you eat out more).

Despite the fact that we haven’t really shopped in the last month, we’ve still been eating about as well as we usually do (one disclaimer: I’ve had a ton of fresh greens and herbs from our local community garden that I wrote about last time). That’s why you haven’t seen much of me here, I’m cooking some old favorites over and over again. It’s times like these where I’m really proud of my home cooking experience and the ability to keep a well stocked pantry and freezer.

Not writing blog posts (sorry about that, really), has also given me time to read some other great posts. These two say it all better than I ever could, and also came at the perfect time:

  • A Guide to Using Dry Beans for Cooking by Trent Hamm over at The Simple Dollar – Trent has been posting some great frugal cooking guides this summer. I loved this post because I too have recently found the joys of keeping dried beans. I just throw each whole bag into a jar when I bring them home from the store, and they can last almost forever. I can throw a handful or two into any soups I’m making (skipping the soaking step isn’t ideal but can be done), or soak some all day for an easy dish that night. So many varieties of beans are healthy, delicious, cheap and easy to keep around. Dried beans are also easier to lug home from the grocery store than cans – which is important when you live in a 4th floor walk-up.
  • At GetRichSlowly – Reader Story: How I Save Tons of Money by Grocery Shopping Once Every Three Months. This post’s title is slightly misleading as the author does get vegetables from a CSA biweekly, but the idea behind it rings true: shop less often and you’ll save money. Another point she makes that I believe in is that cooking out of your pantry forces you to be a little more creative with how you put meals together, and helps you develop a sense of what works together.

These two posts reminded me a bit of the sort of topics I want to cover here at Get Cooking: being creative and unafraid in the kitchen, cutting costs without sacrificing health or flavor. Stay tuned for some new recipes straight out of the pantry!

One year ago: Collard Greens with Chick Peas


About this author:  I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...


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One Response to “Making the most out of what you’ve got”

  1. Get Cooking » Pantry tips for greater freedom in the kitchen, part 1

    […] I’ve written before about how having a well stocked pantry makes it easy for me to choose to cook every night instead of eating out. A well stocked pantry means different things to different people. For me, it means having versatile ingredients around that are as ready as possible to use at a moment’s notice. It also means having items around that won’t spoil, and knowing how best to store items that will. […]

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