You need not go the whole hog like me but keeping a solid basic pantry means that through rough times when money is tight we can live quite comfortably out of the different type of food storage that I have and the different food types very well and economically.
The one thing you do have to resign yourself to is that if you are not naturally enthralled with cooking is that you have to do a certain amount of preparation and indeed cooking and finding economical ways of cooking meals. I use a slow cooker (I have bought a couple of them for £10 apiece from the Local Charity shop - both were bought singly and a few months apart) so having two on the go means that I can cook a main meal and also have pudding as well.
The slow cooker is also good for making your own stock and also your own soup.(making use of the bones from a chicken, a ham bone, beef bones etc). You can also freeze veggie peelings and a combination of the veggies and bone/bones will make a lovely home made stock.
Using a slow cooker also frees you up to do other things whilst tea is cooking and if put on low in the morning by the time you come home and up the heat for a little while you can soon have a lovely hot meal ready for not long after you get in of an evening. A big time saver when you work full time and an absolute boon on a cold winters evening. You can even cook a whole chicken or a small joint of beef or pork.
Use the big oven and little oven (I have both) to the full and do a big bake for the week. Especially if you have children in the house and that is when it gets really expensive. Do not buy bought cake make your own. A simple Victoria sponge mix can be used to make a sponge cake, used to make buns, butterfly cakes, a swiss roll, sponge puddings such as Eve's pudding
Part of the saving money process is keeping the costs down and bulk cooking as well for the week. Worried that there will be too much hanging around in the fridge and that it will not get used - freeze it. That is one of the reasons I buy fresh meat and cook from scratch as I have the option of eating the meals fresh or have in stock in the freezer. I also freeze any spare veg that I do not think is going to get used up, but equally I use up as much veg as I can in a weekly stir fry with some chicken/pork. Its a lot healthier for you and very filling.
In the longer term its a bit of effort but it does pay dividends. Think of it as making sure that your little kingdom, your little empire is in your hands and it is up to and down to you as to whether you are successful in keeping your family healthy and well fed. Remember years ago there were no supermarkets per se and if you did not keep a good store of foods and preserve them during the summer months for use in colder months then you really potentially were signing your own death warrant just for the lack of putting a bit of effort in.
Its the same as keeping a log pile, collecting kindling, fir cones, twigs, lint from the tumble drier (in these modern times). In the colder months you have to keep yourself warm. [That is why on my agenda is an open fire a log burner and an Aga/Rayburn]. Really it is down to a personal choice at the end of the day you either sink or swim and I for one when my back is against the wall choose to swim but it also involves making sensible choices.
My food storage encompasses several types of food storage including the jam store, the fridges, the Pantry, the freezers, the dry pantry i.e. dried stored ingredients, tinned goods and the sack of potatoes and net of onions which are stored in the shed and the tray of eggs. I buy a large tray of eggs and I do not store them in the fridge. I store them in a cool cupboard under the stairs so that the cats cannot get at them but I never store them in the fridge.
I store a variety of ingredients. All of them cheap enough because they have been bought whilst on offer but I always check to make sure that the offer is as good as it says it is. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy two single packets of the same thing rather than the bigger package because it works out cheaper and you get more for your money.
I keep a lot of the basics in including the ingredients for a baking pantry, i.e. different flours, nuts, dried fruits, dried coconut, the margarine and butter and lard for making pastry is stored in the fridge.
I always keep in a large tray of eggs and can always with some flour and milk make pancakes, Yorkshire Puddings. The eggs themselves can als be served simply as boiled eggs, omelettes, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, poached eggs, coddled eggs. You have so much more choice and you have control over what actually goes into your food.
I tend to buy a lot of fresh fruit and also a lot of fresh veg. None of it goes to waste. I use the fresh fruit in puddings and cakes and I even dry it, bottle it, make purees use with pastry to make pies, tarts and as well as eat it fresh and make jams and marmalades.
So what do I keep in my pantry. Well next time I will start to tell you. There are several different types of storage that I use but I will start with the dry ingredients.
Catch you all shortly.