I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Feed a Crowd (Whenever)

One of the keys to my food-with-kids success is that I keep a really well stocked pantry. Formulas for lunch and dinner won't do anyone any good unless you actually HAVE the things you need with which to make said meals. So without further ado, here is a (mostly complete, I probably forgot some) list of the things you'll always find in my house. The quantities I've listed are minimums, so if I notice I have less than that, I'll buy what I need to bring it back up to minimum level. This is actually a chef trick - restaurants, cafes, etc have "par levels" of items they keep in stock. It's how you know what to prep/cook that day.

I'm excluding fresh fruit and vegetables since those are things I buy when I plan the week's meals, so I don't keep stock as such. I'm also really trying to get this to be a 'bare minimum' list - so some things which you might consider crucial (soy sauce, salad dressing, etc) are missing because I don't think they are essential to creating a family meal on the run.

The beauty of this list is that I know I can create "something out of nothing" if I've got most or all of them on hand. I can just look inside my pantry and know that there are any of maybe half a dozen "go to" recipes which can be made from what you see below. I've also excluded (most) dairy as I think that's a more personal preference item - we usually have slices of cheese, shredded cheese, yohurt and cream cheese at bare minimum (in addition to what is below.)


- 1 kilo (2 lbs) minced beef in 500g (1 lb) bags
- enough chicken pieces (breasts or thighs) for one dinner
- sausages, a dozen of whatever flavour
- something which can be grilled (lamb chops, steaks, etc.)
- canned tuna x 3-4
- lentils, usually red as they cook faster

Flavour hits:

- salt
- pepper
- cinnamon
- a selection of basic dry herbs: basil, thyme, oregano
- a decent spice mix (I like Moroccan)
- Worcestershire sauce
- tomato sauce
- bbq sauce
- chicken stock (either cubes, prepared, frozen, UHT, whatever)


- butter
- milk
- eggs
- jar of minced garlic
- jar of minced ginger
- mayonnaise, not Australian style (it's crap)

Dry store:

- flour, both self-raising and plain
- sugar (white and brown)
- rice (I prefer doongara or basmati as they are both low GI)
- polenta
- oatmeal (instant is fine)
- baking powder
- baking soda
- cans of corn
- canned chopped tomatoes
- tomato paste
- cous cous
- pasta of various sizes/styles
- pancake mix (bought or make your own)
- breakfast cereal
- a wide array of dry crackers
- cocoa powder
- tortillas
- raisins
- olive oil and vegetable oil
- vinegar (of your choice)
- non-stick spray
- spreads (peanut butter, jam, vegemite, honey)
- bread crumbs


- bag of peas (does double duty as an ice pack)
- bag of potato chips/gems/wedges
- bag of mixed vegetables
- loaf of bread and/or bagels or other bread item

There you have it - if you're keeping a well stocked pantry, you're following some sort of plan (whatver that plan may be), you'll find that feeding a family isn't nearly as hard as some people seem to think. Of course, there are the nights when I just cannot be bothered, the nights when I'm desperate for a few hot chips, and the nights where adults and children alike are eating Cheerios and toast. Those nights, well, sometimes you need those for a bit of variety!

Stay tuned for the last in this series of posts - where I tell you the real secret to my success.


the baker's wife said...

there is something so compelling about lists of food. I just sat here for my five free minutes and read the list of contents of your fridge and pantry. Loving every word. What is it about lists of food?

Nigel Slater did this 'what I ate last year' column in the Guardian Food Monthly a while back and it was literally paragraphs and paragraphs of what he'd eaten in the course of a year. Kilos of yoghurt, punnets of berries, whole chocolate cakes. Again, I loved every word.

Note to self- get a life.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Bwahahaha. I don't have a life either, which is why I *write* lists of food!!