About 10 pm on Friday night, I started reading The Stocked Kitchen, by Sarah Kallio and Stacy Krastins. By midnight, I was finished. Seriously, I read a cookbook cover to cover and was so excited, I couldn’t go to sleep. It seems a little silly to call this just a cookbook. It’s more like “kitchen [...]
About 10 pm on Friday night, I started reading The Stocked Kitchen, by Sarah Kallio and Stacy Krastins. By midnight, I was finished. Seriously, I read a cookbook cover to cover and was so excited, I couldn’t go to sleep. It seems a little silly to call this just a cookbook. It’s more like “kitchen curriculum”. I’ve been cooking for at least 40 years, and I would venture to say I’m fairly good at it. Yet, I learned so much from The Stocked Kitchen that I had never previously considered. I can’t wait to share it. It is going to take a busy woman’s view of her kitchen, and cooking, and literally turn it upside down. I will venture to say that you have never seen another cookbook like it and though there will probably be many who will try to copy this ingenious concept, you get to hear about the one and only original, right here, on Busy-at-Home. (Enter to win a copy for yourself, at the end of this post!)
The first two “chapters” of the book are made up of a total of only three pages. After reading them, however, I was hooked. I felt a kinship with these women who knew exactly what the challenges are in a busy woman’s kitchen, day-to-day — you know, that 4:30 or 5:00 standing and staring into an open refrigerator or pantry and feeling like you have nothing to make for dinner challenge? They’ve been there, done that, AND they have a solution. The difference between understanding a dilemma, and solving a dilemma, is action. Sarah and Stacy’s actions are going to rock your cooking world! The system and recipes they have developed are going to save you time — they’re going to save you money — and they’re going to give you a confidence in the kitchen that will leave smiles on the faces of your family and guests at every meal. (I’m just a little stoked about this cookbook. ) Frugal, fast and made from scratch — everything we love at Busy-at-Home!
The short and sweet of the premise behind this book is one awesomely simple, yet comprehensive grocery list. Keep your fridge, freezer and pantry stocked with these items and you will always have what you need to create ANY of the more than 300 recipes in this book. The grocery list is included in tear-out pages in the back of this wonderful, hard cover cookbook. Stick it to the fridge, check off items as they are used (and train others in your house to do the same), so you know it needs to be replenished and then carry the list to the store with you every 7-10 days to restock your kitchen with the few items you need. You could easily just make copies of the page to have one for each week, or even simpler, visit The Stocked Pantry website and print the list on your printer at home. Do you realize how this will revolutionize the way you shop — how many “extra” things you will not be buying — how much time and money that can save? It boggles the mind.
So, what’s the secret to this grocery list? What makes it so magical and special? Have you ever seen a recipe online or in a magazine and thought it sounded amazing and decided to make it, only to find you needed some exotic ingredient that you have never purchased in your life, much less have sitting in your pantry? Have you made an extra trip to the store to get that item, and a few others you find along the way, just to bring it home, make the recipe and have the rest of that product sit untouched on your shelves for months or even years? I definitely have. The secret to The Stocked Kitchen grocery list is that all the items are everyday, normal food that you probably keep in your kitchen most of the time. When I first glanced at the list, I thought, “That’s a LOT of groceries!”, but after taking the time to read through it, I already had about 85-90% of those items in my kitchen. The few things that aren’t on your normal list of staples, will quickly become familiar to you, because they are so commonly used in these recipes. You won’t be buying exotic, but you WILL be buying cost-effective, common ingredients that can be used to create delicious, nutritious meals and that will save you money on 1) pre-packaged, processed food and 2) going out to eat at the last minute because you “don’t have anything to cook at home”.
These recipes are certainly family-friendly, but they will be equally great for entertaining. There are options for every palate and quite a few vegetarian options, as well. That was actually one of my biggest concerns before reading the book — “Won’t we get tired of having the same old dishes day in and day out? How can there be enough variety, with only one shopping list?” Let me ask you a question. In a 30-day span, are there any of your family’s favorite dishes that you prepare more than once? We sure do and sometimes it’s because we want it, sometimes it’s because I can’t think of anything else to make. The Stocked Kitchen has enough soup, pasta, and meat main dish recipes that you would be able to eat a different dinner (no repeats) every night for more than two months. I know, because I counted. Our family is not huge on seafood, (though I may try incorporating it more often with these recipes), so I counted how many meals I would be able to make if I never used ANY of the seafood recipes. There were over two months worth and that doesn’t count the times we will eat breakfast for supper or have a baked potato bar, etc. This grocery list doesn’t limit you, it uses ingredients you typically keep on hand, anyway, and provides you with the recipes to help you create a delicious, expanded repertoire of meals for your family without needing to run to the store before you cook each night. If you’re like me (and I know you are ), you’ll immediately recognize how many of your family’s own recipes fit the grocery list, which expands your possibilities even further. I don’t know about you, but that’s exciting to me. What has become a drudgery and a chore – grocery shopping — will become streamlined, simple and quick. Happy, happy mama!
I also believe there are many recipes in the Stocked Kitchen that would lend themselves well to freezer cooking, another of my favorite time and money savers. The Stocked Kitchen has recipes for main dishes and soups, pasta dishes, appetizers, desserts, pizzas, breakfasts and brunches, salads, breads, beans, potatoes, rice and veggies! Plus, you’ll learn to make your own sauces, salsas, dressings and condiments from ingredients on the list, saving money and space in the fridge. What’s left? What’s not to love? It’s pure genius!
You’ve read a lot of my reviews, so you know I take pretty seriously what I recommend. It’s one thing to be able to like and recommend a product. It’s another to say you need it. We have a pretty clear understanding of the difference between wants and needs in our house. So, understand I am not speaking lightly when I say, “You NEED this book.” I seriously believe it will save you time and money, help your family to eat healthier and take the panic out of mealtime preparation. You will do your job more efficiently, effectively and happily because you have the tools you need to pull it off. I will be giving this book as a wedding or bridal shower gift each time I receive an invitation. If it were the only cookbook a new bride owned, she’d be set. Seriously! Yes, it’s a cookbook, but it’s also a tool, it’s a plan for being successful in the kitchen. It equips you to masterfully prepare tasty meals, from ingredients you already have in your kitchen and enjoy doing it. I wish I had had it years ago. You’re going to love it!
Here’s one recipe, I’ve been given permission to reprint for you. You need to put a batch of this in the oven every time you are going to have company, because your house smells AMAZING while it is baking!
THE GIVEAWAY!!! The Stocked Kitchen publisher, Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), has generously sponsored a giveaway of one copy of the book for a Busy-at-Home reader.
You must be 18 or older and a US resident to enter. Mandatory entry must be completed before any optional entries will be counted. Winner will be selected in a random drawing using random.org. Deadline for entry is midnight (CST), Sunday, August 7, 2011.
In a comment below, share how The Stocked Kitchen would benefit you and your family.
OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL ENTRIES:
- Like The Stocked Kitchen on Facebook. Leave a comment letting me know you’ve done it.
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- Subscribe to the Busy-at-Home Newsletter with this link or in the right-hand sidebar. You will receive an email confirmation with a link that must be clicked to confirm your subscription. Once you click the email link to confirm your subscription, leave me a comment to let me know you’ve done it.
- Tweet this giveaway (maximum of 1x per day, please). Win “The Stocked Kitchen” and revolutionize the way you shop & cook! @busyathome @AtriaBooks @thestockedkitch http://ow.ly/5Qi1i Leave a comment below with a link to your tweet.
- Post this giveaway on your Facebook page. Win “The Stocked Kitchen” and revolutionize the way you shop & cook! @busyathome @AtriaBooks @thestockedkitch http://ow.ly/5Qi1i Leave a comment below with a link to your post.
I received a copy of The Stocked Kitchen, in order to test recipes and conduct this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As always at Busy-at-Home, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.
Local Woman Changes Shopping Patterns and Increases Family’s Cash Flow! ….. It all started last Thursday, March 17. I realized that my Friday was going to be too hectic to do my usual grocery shopping, so I switched it up and shopped on Thursday. I should also mention that there is no grocery store in [...]
Local Woman Changes Shopping Patterns
and Increases Family’s Cash Flow!
It all started last Thursday, March 17. I realized that my Friday was going to be too hectic to do my usual grocery shopping, so I switched it up and shopped on Thursday. I should also mention that there is no grocery store in the little village where we live. My normal weekly shopping trip was to drive to our hometown to the Super Wal-Mart store and I would typically spend between $125 -$150 per week. I’m ashamed to say, that does not include the “quick trip” to grab something “easy” when I hadn’t planned something to make and we were in a hurry or the occasional “let’s just grab some fast food”, for the same poor-planning reason. I didn’t use coupons because I had decided they were such a nuisance to find and then keep track of. I watched for what was on sale as I walked the aisles and usually bought the store brand of most products. I kept a list of basics I knew we were out of, and with any luck, I remembered to bring it with me when I shopped. That was it. Not the smartest of routines, I realize, but the honest truth of the matter.
Over the last several weeks, I have been on a journey to put $250-$300 into our family’s budget. Working outside our home is not an option because of homeschooling and the need to drive (We choose to only have one car.) to even the nearest small town, even if work were available. I do some freelance writing, but it doesn’t consistently bring in that level of income every month. The rest of our budget has been cut pretty much to the bone except for our cable/internet package. Eliminating that would prevent me from being able to “talk” with all of you and would make my favorite guy pretty cranky on game days, so that’s our splurge. We have eliminated them in the past when it was necessary, but we can save in a different way, now. Ü The only part of the budget that really wasn’t a fixed amount was groceries and while I didn’t believe there was much wiggle room left there, I decided if the “super shoppers” we always read about were actually right, it would be worth a try to clip a few coupons. As I started reading and understanding what it is that these savvy shoppers do, I began to think it just might work, but it involved a lot more than just clipping a few coupons.
The first thing I would have to do was get organized. I used to be that person. You know, the one that could spin all the plates, was always busy, but would take on another project if asked — kept a schedule, made lists, got things done. Then the loss of my two most time-consuming “occupations” and the onset of peri-menopause left me in a state of “suspended animation”, wondering exactly what my purpose was now, and kept me from remembering it for more than a few minutes at a time when I did hit on it. I finally understand that it was a period of depression, that coupled with the lack of focus from peri-menopause, must have driven my family crazy and left them wondering who I was, too. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go back to a focused, organized lifestyle. And I’m still not 100% convinced, but I’m definitely making strides in that direction. The first step is taking control of our grocery budget and deciding that groceries are the only place to really make an adjustment. The next step is cutting that area of the budget without sacrificing nutrition and taste. Those seem like two pretty overwhelming steps, but last week, I started the journey in earnest.
Recognizing that the most successful “super shopper” moms did more than clip a few coupons, I began reading as much on this subject as possible. I wanted the plan, the “formula” and I wanted to make it mine. I could see it had to do with planning menus, shopping once and saving as much as possible when on that one shopping trip. That also meant shopping at more than one store and buying only the least expensive items at each one. I read Frozen Assets, The $5 Dinner Mom, The Coupon Mom’s website and subscribed to the blogs of dozens of moms who had a system and were making it work. The first thing I realized is that these women were not paying for a huge percentage of their non-food items. Amazing! Was that really possible? I’ve discovered that it is. In these few short weeks, I have stock-piled shampoo, toothpaste, razors, eye drops, shower gel, lotion and other essential, but non-food items to last for nearly a year. I got them free or for pennies on the dollar at Walgreen’s, using a system of saving that these women shared with me. You can read about two of my Walgreen’s shopping trips here and here. There have been two or three others, but I haven’t gotten them blogged, yet. Once you remove the full-price non-food items from your shopping trip, you will be amazed at how the savings start stacking up.
Okay, I keep saying “the first step”. There can only be one. – lol – So, the first step is “the plan”. This involved something I simply never do – buying the Wednesday and Sunday papers, from “the big city”. – lol – Lincoln is about the same distance in the opposite direction from where I usually drive to our hometown Wal-Mart. “Super shopping” definitely involved turning the car around and heading into Lincoln. Local grocery ads for our area come out on Wednesday (note: The Walgreens ad comes out on Sunday.) I looked at the grocery ads and determined I would be shopping at two of them, Super Saver and Hy-Vee, and also making a stop at Sam’s Club. I almost never do a “full-grocery shop” at Hy-Vee , because over all, their total price for my groceries is higher; however, their loss-leaders are always great! If you have a store like that in your area, discipline yourself to purchase only the loss-leader items from the front page of their ad and nothing else. It’s a great way to save money. Anyway, I studied the ads, planned some “rough” menus (I need to get much more disciplined at this skill.), “shopped” my pantry and freezer for what I already had on hand, made a list for each store and then matched my coupons to the items I would be buying. Matching coupons with sale prices is such a rush! – lol
At Super Saver I purchased:
- (2) boxes of Chocolate Cheerios @ $1.98 each and used .55 coupons for each one (Cereal for $1.44 is a great deal! I have a stockpile from a sale last month, though so only picked up two.)
- (5) pkgs DelMonte Fruit Chillers Cups @ $2.73 each and used $1 coupons for each one (This was a splurge item and @ $1.73 for each pkg of 4 cups a so-so deal. I probably wouldn’t buy them again.)
- (1) 12 pack of Angel Soft double-roll toilet paper @ $6.42 and used a .50 coupon
- (3) Era he Laundry detergent 50 oz (32 loads) @ $2.96 each
- (2) store brand lasagna noodles (1 lb each) @ $1.12 each
- (2) store brand 1 lb. bags dry black beans @ $1.28 each
- (2) store brand 1 lb. bags dry beans @ $1.17 each
- (2) store brand 1 lb. bags dry red beans @ $1.28 each
- (2) large cans (are they 40 oz ?) store brand diced tomatoes @ .98 each
- (2) 1 lb bags of store brand brown rice @ .97 each
- (2) 20 oz cans of store brand pineapple tidbits @ $1.22 each
- (2) loaves Sara Lee classic wheat bread @ $1.48 each ( I do bake a lot of our bread – probably about 50%, because it’s cheaper and healthier, but do always keep a few store-bought loaves in the freezer for when I am short on time.)
- (2) 1/2 gallon bottles of Old Orchard apple juice @ $1.77 each and used .50 coupon on each
- (20) lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts @ $1.67 / lb
- (2) heads of lettuce @ $1.24 each
- (1) bunch green onions @ .66 each
- (1) head of cabbage @ .37
- (1) 1.07 lb bunch of asparagus @ $1.58
- (15) Gala apples ( 6.05 lbs) @ $1.46 lb
- (1) 3.7 lb Spaghetti Squash @ $1.24/lb
- (1) bunch of fresh cilantro @ .60 each
- (1) bunch of fresh parsley @ .78 each
- (3) bunches of celery @ $1.32 each
- (5) lbs of carrots @ $3.48
- (15) lbs of red potatoes @ $2.46
- (1) 1 lb bag of fresh baby spinach @ $1.87
- (3) 1 lb containers of fresh strawberries @ $1.37 each
- (3) 8 oz bags shredded Italian Blend cheese @ $1.98 each
- (2) 8 oz bags shredded Monterey Jack cheese @ $1.98 each
- (5) 8 oz bags of shredded sharp cheddar cheese @ $1.98
- (6) 8 oz blocks of low-fat cream cheese @ .98 each
- (4) store brand 1 lb pkg of butter @ $1.95 each
- (2) store brand 18-packs of eggs @ $1.92 each
- (2) 1 lb cartons store brand cottage cheese @ $2.32 each
- (2) 1.5 lb cartons of lite sour cream @ $2.88 each
- (2) gallons of skim milk @ $2.48 each
- (1) gallon of chocolate milk @ $2.78
There is no sales tax on food in Nebraska, so the detergent and toilet paper cost $1.07 in sales tax, for a TOTAL of $175.57 at Super Saver.
My next stop was at Hy-Vee, where I purchased:
- 16.5 lbs (approximately) of center cut pork loin @ $1.68/lb
- I rounded up my ticket .71 for a donation to the local Red Cross
TOTAL for Hy-Vee shopping was $29.00.
My last stop was at Sam’s Club which is why I was giving the wrong totals for my trip. Somehow, I simply didn’t calculate it into my totals. In my defense some of the things I purchased will last over a several month span, but the out-of-pocket cost still comes out of this month’s grocery budget. At Sam’s Club I purchased:
- (6) lbs of beef stew meat @ $14.44
- (10.5) lbs (approx) 93% lean ground beef @ $2.88/lb
- (2) 4 lb bags of frozen brocolli @ $4.98 each
- (1) 5 lb. bag of frozen corn @ $4.48 each
- (1) 5 lb. bag of frozen peas @ $4.88 each
- (2) 3 lb. bags of breaded flounder (There are usually a dozen fillets in each bag.) @ $9.98 each
- (1) 2 lb. Hershey’s cocoa @ $6.17
- (1) bottle of 100 chicken bouillon cubes @ $4.87
- (1) pint of vanilla @ $6.88
- 1/2 gallon soy sauce @ $4.76
- (1) 4 lb box of salt (.98)
- (1) 13.5 oz bottle of crushed red pepper flakes (That’s about a quart.) @ $3.86
- (1) gallon of extra-virgin olive oil @ $16.98
TOTAL for Sam’s Club $148.22.
That makes my GRAND TOTAL for the shopping trip $352.79!
I have a month’s worth of main dishes (31 of them) and ingredients for vegetable sides, as well as ingredients for breakfasts and lunches. I only spent $352.79 and I will only need to purchase milk and some occasional produce through the month. If I spend $400 for the whole month, I will be saving $200 on groceries + the money we would have spent for our “extra trips” AND fast-food drive thru’s. There is no last minute, I don’t know what to fix, because it’s already prepared. Planning ahead definitely saves money!
So, what does that mean we will be eating this month? Here are the main dishes I have put in the freezer, so far. (I say so far, because I still have ingredients to make more and items in the freezer that I will probably add in for variety and carry some of these over into next month.)
- (4) Apple Dijon Pork Loins
- (2) Honey Dijon Pork Loins
- (2) Maple Glazed Pork Loins
- (4) Beef Stew
- (4) Spicy Chinese Chicken
- (2) Ginger Lemon Chicken
- (4) Crockpot Chicken with Cream Cheese and Black Beans
- (2) Cheeseburger Macaroni Casseroles
- (2) Stroganoff Casseroles
- (1) Spinach Lasagna
- (1) Spaghetti and Meatballs
- (2) Meatball Suppers
- (1) Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 7 cups of pre-browned ground beef for tacos, burritos, chili or quick throw together meals
- 7 cups of precooked navy beans
- 7 cups of precooked black beans
- 16 cups of precooked rice
- 6 cups of pre-cooked chopped chicken for tacos, burritos, salads, enchiladas, etc.
- 22 cups of macaroni salad (It’s not in the freezer, but pre-made for the week.)
- Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries (Delish and easy! Not for the freezer, but great for a party or an indulgent snack.)
- Egg salad for lunch sandwiches this week. Again not in the freezer, but from our grocery-shopping bounty.
I’m still a newbie at all this, but it can only get better. I plan to continue to challenge myself to cut more and more out of the grocery budget and put money back into our family’s savings.
So now, the cooking sessions and recipes — those, along with tons of pictures, will be my next several blogs. I can’t wait for you to see them!