Eat Well, Spend Less: Back to Basics (a round-up)


In my kitchen, January feels like a natural season to get back to the basics in the kitchen and I know a lot of you feel the same way.

Fortunately I had quite a few recipes for pantry staples planned for the month, and so I hope you have bookmarked my roasted chicken stock, Danny’s waffle mix, and the unbeatable Chocolate-Oat Cereal Bars for school snacks. If so, you’re off to a great start of the year.

The ladies of our Eat Well, Spend Less group have all been talking about back to basics this week. You’re definitely going to want to glean some tips from them…


Jessica from Life as Mom wrote a book about freezer cooking and knows a thing or two about cooking well-rounded family meals from the pantry. This month she made a concentrated effort to ‘eat down the pantry’ before shopping for more. In her post, she shares 7 Lessons Learned from a Pantry Challenge.

From the post:

“A Pantry Challenge takes me back to the basic wisdom of our grandmothers: waste not, want not. I repurposed leftovers, made homemade stock, incubated my own yogurt, stirred up multiple pots of Thursday Night Soup, and used up little random bits that would have gone to waste had I not been mindful of what we had.”

Mandi from Life…Your Way shares about her journey to scratch cooking (impressive, this girl!) in her post How to Cook from Scratch When You Don’t Know How. Plus, she gives a recipe for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies!

“Often, we approach cooking from scratch from the opposite direction — starting with recipes that use premade ingredients and assembling them — but if the thing that’s holding you back is not having a good understanding of how and why things work in the kitchen, starting with the basics can be a big confidence booster!”

Katie from Kitchen Stewardship’s post, How to Boil a Husband, is a super impressive story on how she won her partner over to whole foods, to the better of his health.

“It’s important to get the basics down in the kitchen and at the grocery store, so you know what to buy and how to prepare it, but equally important is knowing how to explain what you’re doing to your partner in life.”

Amy from Kingdom First Mom shares her family’s impressive Food Goals for 2013, among them, gardening, menu planning, and bringing the kids in the kitchen.

“Strive toward the eating lifestyle we want to achieve: cooking at home, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and nary a box in sight. This may seem a lofty goal, but I believe it is doable.”


Carrie from Denver Bargains shows us How to Cook Pasta Like a Pro. She gives some great tips, including this one:

“Pasta sticking together?  This is usually the result of not using enough water for the amount of pasta you’re cooking.  Use about four quarts of water for one pound of pasta, stir it occasionally (especially when you first add it to the pot), and you will have much less trouble with it sticking together.”

Shaina of Food for My Family brings us Back to the Basics of Feeding Your Family and shows how to eat well and spend less at the same time.

“The single most important piece of sound advice I can offer when thinking about how we eat as a family unit is that it works because it is a priority. You prioritize the things you deem most important. For our family it comes in the way we eat.”

This month for EWSL, I dished my best tips for making a dark, roasted chicken stock, which you can find HERE, along with a sweet story that happened over eleven years ago.

How are you getting back to basics this month?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. We just got a Blentec blender and find it’s a great way to use up the leftover veggies and fruits in the fridge. With two little ones it’s easier for me than making soup, plus it’s a fun way to get the kids to eat more spinach!
    Love the collection of EWSL links!

    • We just purchase one of these this past weekend. We are waiting to get it in the mail. We bought it mostly because I felt bad about all the waste from fruits and veggies and figured it would come in so handy! Can’t wait to use it!

  2. We chose January to be a month of no wheat and no refined sugar, we needed to clean up eating habits and it was the perfect month to do so. It was a great experience. Loved these links!

    • Lucy - The Review Site says

      Wow that is really inspiring Breanne, I guess that you felt more healthy afterwards? Do you think you will cut down your wheat and refined sugar from now on or just detox from time to time?

      • We’ll be keeping wheat to a once a week, if that. And trying to keep refined sugar totally out of the house then when we do have it when we’re out or with others, it won’t be such a big deal. We feel SO much better. =)

    • We started wheat/grain free this past fall. Though we are not super strict on it, we have been enjoying the benefits of it. I don’t notice a huge difference in my health or energy on a day to day basis. But when I eat a meal with lots of grain I definitely feel bloated and not as well afterwards. I have been on a personal mission in January to avoid sugars. I used to eat so much refined sugar. Since January, I have felt much better, have lost weight. I just made a cake yesterday and after I ate it, I felt like crap! It is amazing how food changes the way you feel.

      • Yes I know what you mean, I went away for some alternative events and was on a vegan diet (lovely food!) for about 3 weeks. I didn’t really miss the meat at all but did miss cheese a bit. Got home and the first thing I did was have cheese on toast and a few minutes later I felt sick, and wished I hadn’t!

  3. So true, I freeze everything now!

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