Last time I told you all about how I was one of two semi-finalists for a shopping spree at Sprouts Farmer’s Market. Although I didn’t win the big prize, I won a substantial gift card that paid for a lot of groceries for more than a month.
My original plan for the gift card was to supplement my normal grocery budget by only buying produce, meat, sale items and a few staples every week, in the hopes that I could use the gift card for six or seven months. Then life and a lot of unexpected bills happened, and I used the card for almost all my grocery shopping. What a blessing it was!
All too soon, there was only $100 left on the gift card. Sad, right? Even though I’d been using the card for weekly grocery shopping, I still wanted it to help our budget in the long term. That’s when I devised a plan of attack. I would use that last bit of money to royally stock our pantry with staples and go-to items. It was the shopping trip dreams are made of.
After going through our pantry, I split my dream shopping trip items into three categories:
- Expensive staples we’re always running out of – like extra virgin olive oil and gluten-free pretzels
- Quick meals – like ingredients to make pasta
- Splurges – I don’t need a few bars of chocolate…wait who am I kidding? Of course I do. Other splurges were things like a tube of high-quality tomato paste and a bottle of chipotle Tabasco sauce.
And here it is…the bounty of my dream pantry-stocking shopping trip. Oh, and it cost a little more like $150.
I’ve taken individual pictures of many of the items, but here is a quick rundown, left to right: Balsamic vinegar, raspberry balsamic vinegar, two bottles of extra virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, four packages of gluten-free pasta in various shapes, rice, coconut milk, whole-grain mustard, local honey, almond butter, dijon mustard, three bottles of chicken broth, chocolate, three bottles of high-quality marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, gluten-free pretzels, gluten-free crackers and cookies, bell peppers, Tabasco sauce, bulk almonds and bulk pinto beans.
Oh and wouldn’t it have been helpful if I’d closed the back door and moved those chairs before the picture?
I also got some meat, but I put that up as soon as I got home. Bacon, chicken thighs and ground beef. That ham hock’s for a big pot of beans.
White and brown jasmine rice, how I love thee! I also grabbed several boxes of Schar pasta. It’s my favorite pasta brand, and Italy’s number one according to the box. I love their tagliatelle.
Here’s where it gets really exciting – local honey, pure maple syrup, dijon and whole grain mustard. These are things I use all the time in cooking, whether it be for pork rubs or salad dressings. It always hurts the budget on shopping trips I have to buy a new $10 bottle of maple syrup, so having it on hand is amazing. Also, thanks Sprouts for carrying local honey. Way to be awesome.
Glutino is probably my favorite gluten-free brand. Their bagel chips are as good as anything with gluten and our house is seldom without a bag of their pretzels. Then I got Schar shortbread cookies. You’ve seen the amazing things I do to those.
Produce isn’t really a pantry staple, especially because I use it up fast. However, you can dice bell peppers and freeze them. And that totally counts as a staple.
The last thing I used my gift card for was a very special Easter dinner. My dad came up because my sister and mom were en route to Massachusetts. I made a rack of lamb, roasted parsnips and carrots, roasted asparagus, marinated tomatoes and a Schar gluten-free sourdough baguette. My dad, who is not gluten-free, said the baguette was one of the best he’d ever had.
My gift card is now empty. I keep it in my wallet, though. It’s a reminder of a lot of things – of friends and community, of God’s provision, and of the time I got to stock my pantry full of staples for a busy day, a rainy day, or a day I just need some chocolate.
Who am I kidding. That chocolate is long gone.