Taking Stock

Before you go grocery shopping each week, you have to first take stock of what you have on hand. From there you can decide what you are going to cook for the week and what you need to buy at the grocery store. For me, what is on sale or what is fresh that week at the store often determines what I make.

There are certain things you just always have in your pantry. There are other things that you buy once a month and others that you buy every week. There's a way to go about it in an organized manner; sometimes I manage to do it better than other times.

Pantry Staples (Buy in bulk a few times a year and/or always have on hand)

*  Baking goods: Flour, Sugar, cocoa powder, splenda, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, chocolate chips

*  Oatmeal, raisins, flax seed, chia seeds

*  Dried items: Pasta, Rice, Dried Beans, Coffee

*   Canned items: Tomato Paste, chicken stock, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, evaporated milk

*  Spices, salt, pepper, peanut butter, honey, olive oil, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar

Fridge Staples:

* Mustard, ginger, shriracha, mayonaise, ranch dressing

* Almond butter, miso paste, tahini, sweet chili sauce, almond milk

Freezer Staples:

* Veggies: Frozen corn, edamame

* Meat: Chicken pieces, frozen shrimp

* Stuff I made in the past: pizza dough, sauces, muffins and mini meals (which will be talked about in more detail in a future meal planning post),

Monthly Buys:

* Steel cut oats, nuts, dried fruit,

* Yellow onions, potatoes, winter squash, Serrano or other peppers, garlic

* Coffee

Weekly Buys:

* Fresh fruit, vegetables

* Creamer, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese

Pioneer Woman's stock list.

Some of the items I bought this week: butternut squash, cantaloupe, celery, red cabbage, pumpkin, mango, plums, peaches, apples, pears, Brussels sprouts, chicken breasts (0.99/lb!!).

Every week I make a big batch of something and freeze several portions for weekly meals, as well as making things like salad fixings in advance so I can just grab and go during the week. I am going to talk about that more next week, but for now, I will leave you with one of my favorite easy meals that you can use in several different ways.

Crock Pot Whole Chicken

I know, a whole chicken is a little scary. However, recently they were .99 cents a pound and so I picked up a nice one (about 5 lbs) for a steal (you do the math).

(1) Buy a whole chicken.

(2) Once you get the chicken home, take the gizzards out of the inside and feed them to the cat.

(3) Mix together your favorite spices. I used salt, pepper, a bit of red pepper flakes and Old Bay seasoning. Rub them all over the chicken, both inside and out. Make sure you get the armpits and all the other orifices.

(4) Cut up an onion. Place it in the bottom of the crock. Put the spice rubbed chicken on top of it. 

(5) Set it on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours. When it's done, the juices should run clear and the arm should easily pull off the chicken. Yes, in my world, chickens have arms.

(6) Take the chicken out of the crock. ** Now comes the fun part!** Leave everything else in the crock. Remove the skin from the chicken. Throw it back in the crock. Remove all the chicken from the bones. Throw the bones back in the crock. Throw the bone carcass back in the pot.

(7) Put the chicken meat aside. Fill the crock up with water and leave it overnight, or for about 8 hours on low. The next day, strain the liquid into quart jars/containers. You now have stock!

So. To recap. You now have... three to five meals worth of chicken (depending on your family size) plus about 12 cups of stock (in my case)! All for around $5.00!

Happy meal planning! Go check out Jill and Laura's sites for this week's What's For Dinner linkup!

Do you have a cheap, go-to meal that you use over and over? Do you like to cook? Do you plan out your meals or just fly by the seat of your pants?


  1. Great list. I'm making my grocery list as we speak and you reminded me of a few "monthly buys" I need to get. I'm meal planner and I love to cook if I'm not short on time. I don't want to be rushed :)

    Thanks for the challenge mention!

  2. I have not done a decent grocery shopping trip in a very long time. I have basically just been flying by the seat of my pants lately as I have barely been home. I always make sure to have fresh fruit around, but not nearly as much as you!! Your fruit supply is awesome!!

    I do enjoy cooking, but lately I opt for recipes that are quick, easy, and yield lots of leftovers - like the vegetarian chili I made last week!!

  3. Yes taking stock is a must do!! Great list!! I did a whole chicken in the crock pot last week...you skin it then cover it inside and out with lemon slices, garlic, and rosemary...then low for 8 hours....so yummy!!

  4. Wow. You can buy a whole chicken for $5? Here fresh chicken is really expensive for some odd reason and a whole chicken can run to $10 or more easily. Great idea!

    But I love your staples list... I am planning a similar post on my food blog soon.

    I agree, take an ineventory before you menu plan and shop. It is so much more frugal!

  5. Great idea for the chicken and stock. I just shared it with my husband because we've talked about doing this but never followed through. With specific directions he's all about it haha. ;)

  6. I love your tips! We store bulk dry goods in glass jars, too... and try to keep similar ingredients on hand at all times. Thanks for linking up!

  7. I enjoy cooking and usually plan dinners out for the week, so I know that I'm going to crock a curry with some chicken breast in it at some point this next week.

  8. I do love making a chicken like that and getting all of that stock! So satisfying.

  9. Great tips:). I am not a huge fan of cooking but I do it for my family. My go to meal is often roasted chicken with potatoes and veggies. Easy to put in the oven or crock pot.

  10. I love to see your counter overloaded with produce. It makes me feel a whole lot better about the state of our island. Seriously. I also like your easy recipe for crock pot chicken and stock. Gets me excited for the fall/winter.

  11. You are so organized. I love that you could do all of that for $5.00!! Awesome.

    I made chicken soup a few weeks ago and saved all the chicken. Tonight I reheated the chicken (that I'd frozen) and mixed in taco seasoning and it became my taco filling. And, I still have half the chicken left. Love that.

    I also froze a lot of the stock in small portions and have already used that for a few recipes. I felt so chef-like-organized.

    I'm so going to do your crock pot recipe.

  12. Great list! I'm new to meal planning. I used to fly by the seat of my pants but its time to make a change! :)


Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!