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Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Must-Haves

My oldest cousin is getting married, and I've been thinking of what she needs to know.  Oh, I don't mean stuff like the birds and the bees or knowing about how to do laundry, or even how to cook.  She's a very smart girl, and out of college and on her way to medical school.  She has those sorts of things covered.  She knows quite well to take care of herself.  But I did start thinking about what it's like to set up your own household.

When you get married, or buy your first home, often you have a shower, or a housewarming party.  People give you a crockpot, a coffee pot, and a soup pot.  They give you knives & spoons, a cutting board.  But there's so much more that you need.  You need a broom.  Something to clean your toilet.  Something to clean off the stove.  You see?  I once knew a lady who always gave a gift certificate to a grocery store as a wedding gift.  That way, the new couple, if they didn't already have their own home together, could purchase the essentials: salt, pepper, oil, flour, and so on.  And so I started thinking about what MY essentials are.  Because what every person needs as their essential grocery items are not the same.  It depends on what you eat, and what you cook.  And even if you cook.  It depends on how you clean, if you believe you need chemicals to get things truly clean, or if you want to make your own environmentally friendly cleaners.  And mostly, it also depends on your budget and how many ways you can squeeze it.

So here's my list of essentials, the things I must have in my pantry/fridge/freezer grocery-wise.  Some of these items may seem expensive, but I have a strategy for buying each on the cheap.  Some other day I'll talk about cleaning products.  These aren't in particular order:

  • garlic (preferably fresh, minced, and powder)
  • onion (preferably fresh and frozen chopped)
  • worchestershire (especially since becoming gluten-free, soy sauce doesn't cut it.)
  • coconut milk
  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • hot peppers (preferably a variety of powdered, dried and fresh)
  • chicken
  • lamb
  • bison
  • eggs
  • frozen spinach
  • sea salt
  • dried beans (particularly black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans)
  • peanut butter
  • variety of herbs & spices
  • celery
  • carrots
  • vinegar (preferably a variety, but at minimum apple cider and white)
  • tomatoes or tomato sauce (we try to stick with fresh and/or homemade sauce because of issues with BPA in canned tomatoes)
  • mushrooms 
  • fruit, a variety
  • coffee
  • tea, a LARGE variety ( we have an actual tea cabinet for this purpose)

  • rice
  • potatoes
  • ginger, both fresh and powdered

Now there are a wide variety of other things that we love and buy, but if we have all of this "in stock," we can make a huge variety of meals.  Another absolute essential to me is a good set of containers that can go in the freezer and a set of labels.  I buy my labels in the office section at the dollar store.  One pack lasts forever.  All leftovers that don't get eaten quickly get frozen for lunches to take to work or for nights when noone wants to cook.

So what are the grocery items that are YOUR essentials?

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