project pare: creating a pantry list

I like organize and streamline and simplify. As I shared yesterday, because life is complicated, especially with having four growing children, I look for areas in our lives where we can cut back here so we can spend more there.

However, I’m learning that sometimes simplifying is not so simple, especially when it comes to planning meals.

I thought it would be fun to capture this journey in real time, to share with you my challenges in pruning our grocery expenses and paring back the time I spend thinking about what our family will eat.

And what would a challenge be without a name? I’ll call this series: Project Pare.

Project Pare: Creating a Pantry List

Meal planning, preparation and shopping consume much of my time, so it’s one of the biggest areas where I’m most interested in streamlining. I spent 30 minutes the other evening just looking for the best meal planning strategies and have spent countless more minutes (hours?) thinking about it. I find it ironic that the very area where I’m trying to save time is actually costing me more time.

However, I’m trusting that I will reap the benefits come fall when our busy back-to-school schedule picks up again.

One of the tips I gleaned from Pinterest comes from The Resourceful Gals. I liked their idea of creating a pantry list to help formulate a shopping list. Ultimately, I forget at least one thing at least one time each week. If it’s an essential ingredient, then I head back to the store to pick it up – costing me more time and money.

Thankfully, I had already started a list of sorts for another project so this saved me some time and I can re-use it for other ideas I have for tracking food expenses.

Below are a picture of my list and a PDF so you can copy and paste the text if you’d like to use it to start your own pantry list – modifying it, of course, for your pantry. See below the picture for some notes on this list.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW, PRINT OR COPY A PDF of the pantry list

foodpantrylist

  • I used Word to create the list, setting the margins @ .2″, five columns and using a small typeface.
  • For a plant-based food website, you might be surprised to see meat & dairy on my list. However, my family is a hybrid of a plant-based eater (me) and occasional meat & dairy eaters (my husband and children). While I would love for all of us to eat the same way, that’s not the way it’s worked out and I need to honor that.
  • Items with an asterisk indicates items I choose to buy organically most of the time. If you have specific questions about my other abbreviations, just leave a comment.

making fruit juice concentrate

fruit juice concentrate2

(I’m posting this Kitchen Help along with this one to prepare for a recipe I’ll be posting soon.)

Ever since I did a three-month fast from sugar (including maple syrup, honey, agave, and for the first two month, dried fruits), I haven’t had much desire to incorporate back into my diet. Not only did eliminating sugar eliminate a very annoying problem, I found it also drastically reduced my anxiety.

However, the challenge is finding new ways to sweeten recipes (which is why I enjoy this one so much). Fruit juice to the rescue!

White grape juice is especially sweet, but I’ve found it difficult to find it as a concentrate in the frozen foods section. Which leaves making my own. It’s a simple process and all you need is a little third grade math. It’s always best to use organic juices because of pesticides, but if your budget doesn’t allow for the splurge, use regular juice instead.

 

How to Make your own fruit juice concentrate

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1. Determine how much concentrate is require for your recipe and multiply by three. So if you need 1/2 cup of concentrate, you will need 1.5 cups of fruit juice.

2. Pour fruit juice into a pot and bring to a boil.

3. Simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid reduces by two-thirds. Therefore, if you started with 1.5 cups of juice, your goal is to boil away the water until you are left with 1/3 cup of concentrate.

4. Cool before using.

 

Notes:

(This really is an easy process but I share the following notes based on past experiencing of almost ruining a pot because I didn’t pay close attention as the juice was boiling.)

I recommend checking a few times during the reducing process to see how close you are to the desired concentrate amount as it’s easy to boil away too much water.  It’s best to pour the liquid into a metal measuring cup with a pie tin or other pot underneath it to catch any spilled liquid. If you need to further reduce the juice, simply pour all liquid back into the pan.

Watch the liquid carefully and stir occasionally, especially as the liquid approaches a concentrate since the sugars in the juice can burn.

I often will reduce a larger quantity of juice than my recipe calls for and will freeze the extra. However, reducing a larger quantity of juice takes longer and I suggest reducing the heat to medium low once your close to the concentrate stage to avoid burning the sugars in the juice.