As you may know, I’m job hunting. That means money is very tight, and I’m trying to get as much as possible out of my food budget. For me, this means taking a mix and match approach to my groceries.
It also means I’m paying a lot of attention to what my staples are. It turns out, I rely on a few unexpected basics that can be combined in a lot of ways.
Salad ingredients: I stock up on lettuce, carrots, celery, and red pepper and my favorite salad dressing. Annie’s Naturals Goddess Dressing. Once you try this, you’ll never be able to use another salad dressing ever again. Of course, I make a lot of salads, but I always buy veggies that can be used other ways. I roast the carrots or saute the red pepper with some onion, maybe chop it all up and make a bean or pasta salad.
Proteins: Eating cheap usually means eating vegetarian. We all know I love to eat meat, but soy substitutes can last a lot longer in the fridge and are sometimes half the price of the real thing. I buy lots of tofu and soy chicken patties, because they can be used in so many ways. I make chik patty sandwiches, or just cut up a patty and eat it with a salad. Sometimes I’ll eat the tofu raw with some veggies, or cook it according to our own Rebecca’s rules for cooking tofu and eat with some rice and veggies!
Frittata: It was my mother who taught me this trick. Did you know you can probably make a frittata out of almost anything? Do you have eggs? Do you have ANY other vegetables in your house? Great! Make a frittata. It will take you 10 minutes and it will be delicious. This is my favorite decadent treat when I want something fast but fancy. I usually include onion (another kitchen staple for me), maybe thinly sliced potatoes, maybe some red pepper, but usually I just start cooking and adding whatever I have lying around the kitchen, and I’m always pleasantly surprised by the results. Here’s one I made with sweet potato, yellow bell pepper, onion, and spinach!
If I had to pick only 5 ingredients to stock my kitchen (and excluding coffee, which is in it’s own category) I’d pick rice, tofu, salad veggies, eggs, and onions. Five foods, infinite possibilities. What are your most flexible staple foods?