I recently posted a Bachelor on the Cheap article about stocking your pantry. The list provided for all the essentials for creating meals and snacks representing all the food groups.
"But Mike," you ask, "What about your Carb-Check diet, you aren't eating chips, pasta, breads, or rice, how do you stock your pantry for that?"
Excellent question, and I'm here to help.
The key here is the same as for stocking a traditional pantry and fridge - stock up only with items you really like. Don't buy things that are "good for you" or items that are "OK" but you really don't eat that often. If you tolerate but don't really enjoy fish for example, there's no sense in having any of that in your freezer. Buy a larger amount of a protein you really like instead.
Doing the Carb-Check actually saves money at the grocery store
When I first started my Carb-Check Diet, I thought I would spend a lot more at the grocery store, having to buy more meats, cheeses and produce than normal to make up for the loss in breads, pastas, rice, potatoes and chip snacks. But as I've 'witnessed with my own eyes' over the last couple weeks on this diet, I'm actually spending LESS at the grocery store. I really didn't anticipate that, but in planning meals and shopping for the ingredients, I'm not shelling out as much cash! Consider this: A box of pasta is good for 2 or 3 meals and it's easy to over-eat. But a 10 pound pork loin can provide 12 - 15 meals in butchering up a couple small roasts, some chops and a bit of stew meat.
Here's the Carb-Check stock list:
Basics for the Pantry ~ Items you need for just about whatever you're making, be it frying, roasting, grilling or baking
- Kosher salt
- Regular table salt
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- Some kind of vegetable oil
- Vinegar ~ you could go crazy here, there are a lot of vinegars out there, regular, red wine, rice wine, balsamic, champagne, sherry... go with what you know and like. I keep regular, rice wine (it's mild) and balsamic on hand
Baking Basics for the Pantry ~ I'm striking through what a regular pantry has, because there's no cake, pie or biscuit making with the Carb-Check Diet. You'll see the strike through in other categories as well. It also helps to show the money savings you'll see by not having to buy such items.
- All purpose flour
- Pancake/waffle mix
- Biscuit and/or cornmeal mix
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Cream of tartar
- Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- Baking chocolate
- Evaporated milk
- Vanilla extract
Sweetener Basics for the Pantry
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Artificial sugar
- Maple syrup
- Molasses ~ a must have to make BBQ sauce!
- Honey ~ a little bit goes a long way!
Dried Herbs, Seasoning and Spice Basics for the Pantry ~ remember, go with what you know and like
- All purpose seasoning salt
- Bouillon cubes and/or powders or pastes, beef & chicken
- Bay leaves
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili powder
- Crushed red pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground cumin
- Ground ginger
- Ground nutmeg
- Ground pumpkin spice
- Italian seasoning mix
- Minced onion
- Old Bay, regular ~ excellent with fish/seafood
- Paprika ~ sweet and smoked
- Sesame seeds
Beverage Basics for the Pantry
- Tea ~ remember, go with what you like, if you're not a tea person, grab more coffee from the store shelf, a different flavor/roast for a change of pace perhaps
- Lemonade/Gatorade drink mix ~ Sure, you could buy the diet stuff, but we're actually trying to cut down on fake stuff as well. There are times when you need artificial sugar (like that morning cup of coffee), but too much of this stuff is almost as bad as eating too may carbs.
Rice, Grain, Pasta Basics for the Pantry ~ You could go crazy here, there's such a variety
- White rice ~ long grain, medium grain, short grain, par-boiled, jasmine, basmati
- Brown rice ~ This diet does allow for a small amount of brown rice, I'm just not a fan
- Corn meal
- Breadcrumbs ~ plain, Italian seasoned, Panko, etc., your call
- Pasta ~ keep a variety on hand, egg noodles, elbow macaroni, spaghetti noodles, spirals, bow ties...
Snacks and Cereal Basics for the Pantry
- Apple sauce
- Dried fruits ~ for when you're craving that piece of pie... moderation though and stick to fruits like cranberries and watch for artificially added sugars, read the label.
- Granola bars
- Peanut butter
- Popcorn ~ eh, this one is kind of borderline. If you're really looking for a crunchy snack, this is OK to cheat with, but as with anything, moderation is key
- Pork Rinds ~ This is a MUST have, they satisfy the chip craving, deliver that oh-so-important crunch and come in a variety of flavors, best part - NO CARBS!
- Your favorite breakfast cereals
Canned Good Basics for the Pantry ~ stick with what you know and love, if you don't like navy beans, don't buy 'em
- Beef broth
- Chicken broth
- Beans ~ you can go so many ways here, cannellini, navy, black, pinto, but NOT baked or refried. Limit yourself to 1/2 cup servings
- Corn ~ this veggie is just too high in carbs
- Green beans
- Mixed vegetables
- Potatoes ~ Potatoes are allowed, but not mashed or french fried (two foods so easy to overeat).
- Tomatoes ~ all varieties, diced, sauce, paste, etc.
- Chili's and salsas
- Tuna, salmon, sardines
- Spam ~ yes, Spam, go with the low sodium varieties, Spam and eggs for breakfast is rather tasty
Egg and Dairy basics for the Refrigerator
- Eggs ~ I like to buy the 18 count containers and I've always got two on hand
- Heavy cream
- Coffee creamer
- Sour cream and/or plain yogurt
- Cheddar cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- American cheese
- Parmesan cheese
Fresh Produce for the Refrigerator ~ pretty much any vegetable is allowed. Fruits on the other hand are, OK, but best enjoyed after a goal weight has been reached. They are more of a 'maintain weight' food, not weight loss foods due to their higher - but natural - sugar content.
- Broccoli and/or cauliflower
- Lettuce and/or leafy greens
- Lemons/limes ~ for marinades and dressings
- Apples ~ like corn, apples have a high carb load
- Strawberries ~ moderation, one of the few low carb fruits. Raspberries and blackberries are other options.
Must-have Condiments for the Refrigerator
- Ketchup ~ sugar content is too high
- Mustard ~ keep a variety on hand, yellow, brown, Dijon, it's a change of pace and it keeps well
- Ranch Dressing ~ Italian dressing is a good one too, an excellent impromptu marinade
- Pickles, relish
- BBQ sauce ~ The store-bought shelf stuff packs a lot of sugar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Louisiana Hot Sauce, or Sriracha
- Soy or Teriyaki sauce ~ a quick stir fry is a go-to meal for me
Basics for the Freezer
- Ground beef
- Pork sausage
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Frozen veggies ~ peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, mixed, whatever you'll eat
- Frozen fruit ~ a lot of manufacturers put added sugars in their frozen offerings
- Dough ~ pizza crust, pie crust, puff pastry
- Vanilla ice cream ~ topped with some of that fruit, yum!
Fresh Produce for the counter
- Onions ~ store in your pantry if you've got the space
- Potatoes ~ There's really no reason to buy a bag of potatoes
See all those items that got crossed off the list? That's savings for the wallet. And yes, you will be replacing those items with more meats, cheeses and produce, but not as much as you might think. Note there's no bread on this list, more savings.
So there you have it, a nicely stocked Carb-Check Diet pantry, fridge and freezer. And remember the best benefit: Properly stocking a pantry leads to more cooking/baking/grilling, which means eating out less, eating better and saving money!