Pantry Organization

As you make more and more Davita recipes, your pantry inventory accumulates a large number of dry goods. Prior to starting the Davita diet, my kitchen closet was mainly used as a junk closet.

I completely gutted out all the junk and converted it to a pantry. Using containers that provide sealed lids, I organized my growing stock of dry goods, making it more manageable for stocking my inventory.

They are organized in alphabetical order except for ingredients I use often (sugar, powdered sugar, etc.). I stack those on top for easy access. When an ingredient container becomes empty, I add it to my grocery list app on my smartphone.

Frozen Goods Part One
Freezing Liquids

One of the challenges of sticking with a kidney-friendly diet is you have to buy perishable ingredients that you rarely use. That includes liquids like various dairy products that do not have an extensive shelf life in a fridge.

For example, certain recipes call for just two tablespoons of heavy cream. Now you have nearly a full carton of heavy cream left unused. You either search for more recipes that uses up the heavy cream, or as I found by searching online, freeze the heavy cream.

I poured the remaining heavy cream into ice trays. Once they were frozen solid, I popped them out and stored the cubes in a freezer bag. Frozen heavy cream will keep for up to three months.

So the next time a recipe calls for just a couple tablespoons of heavy cream, you pull one cube out, which is the equivalent of two tablespoons, and let it thaw. I have also froze almond milk and various juices with the same procedure. Some liquids I don't bother freezing, like skim milk and apple juice even though I could. Both liquids I keep a constant supply because I use them frequently. So a good chance I will have those liquids on hand when starting a Davita recipe.

Frozen Goods Part Two
Freezing Perishables

I took for granted the rich ingredients of normal meal planning that included high sodium, high phosphorous, and other nutrients not friendly to a Dialysis diet. So I can't emphasize enough the importance of using fresh produce. The taste of fresh produce will greatly make up for the loss of those rich ingredients we are trying to cut out.

The challenge there is to use up fresh produce since it has a short shelf life even in the fridge. Sometimes I find it necessary to freeze my fresh produce to have it available for Davita recipes further down the road. Even frozen fresh produce tastes better than store bought frozen or canned produce.

I typically rinse the produce thoroughly and patted dry. You can also blanch your vegetables before freezing. I have a vacuum sealer and I package them ready for the freezer. It's a bit of an effort, but when you're looking to replace those rich ingredients, fresh produce, even frozen, makes up for that loss.

Frozen Goods Part Three
Re-freezing Perishables

Re-freezing perishables is a valuable way to always have ingredients available for your newest Davita recipe. I searched online the countless sources available on the web how to refreeze various perishables. I was surprised how many items can be re-frozen if done properly.

For example, I had this whole package of frozen ham. I needed only two ounces for a recipe. So I packaged the rest into smaller portions, in vacuum seal freezer bags. Just be sure to follow their re-freezing instructions.

Like this ham, the instructions stated only ham that has been thawed in the fridge can be re-frozen, which I did. My computer or smartphone are always nearby, so I always do a quick search on any perishable to see if it can be re-frozen.

Frozen Goods Part Four
Raw vs. Cooked Ingredients

In an ideal world, your kitchen would be stocked to take on any given Davita recipe on any given day. The reality is, it's near impossible to have all the wide variety of ingredients readily available to take on any Davita recipe.

Adapting your ingredients inventory with substitutions or alterations becomes necessary, otherwise you risk perishables going bad before you have a chance to use all of it.

For example, as I mentioned above about some perishables can be frozen or re-frozen, raw mushrooms are not a good candidate, the freezing process will turn them mushy. However, steamed or sauted mushrooms will do just fine as frozen. I sauted these mushrooms for just five minutes before freezing.

With the many sources online, you can learn what items can be frozen and how to use them once thawed. Raw celery can be frozen, but even with the proper freezing procedure, they still lose their crunchiness. Which is fine for a recipe where they are cooked, but a recipe that calls for raw chopped celery, nothing can replace fresh.

Smaller Quantities Part One

As you create more Davita recipes, your stock inventory/pantry now offers a wider variety of ingredients. However, certain recipes call for a very small amount of an ingredient and you have a considerable amount left over.

As I mentioned above, freezing and refreezing helps immensely, but even frozen stock inventory has a limited shelf life. I have found through experience that in addition to freezing, I buy many ingredients in smaller quantities.

It's natural for us to buy in larger quantities because there's a money saving advantage. But I was pouring those savings down the drain because I simply had too much of a certain ingredient and it just wasn't getting used frequent enough.

Buying smaller quantities means I am restocking my inventory/pantry more often, but I hit the grocery store frequently anyway to keep fresh produce on hand that I don't want to freeze (like tomatoes). So it's just as easy to pick up, for example, a "small bottle" of olive oil while I'm there. This helps in ensuring your pantry inventory (flour, nuts, raisins, cornstarch, etc.) is more fresh.

Smaller Quantities Part Two

Another source for buying smaller quantities is your grocery store's open salad bar. They can be costly, but sometimes they have sales on their salad bar. This is an excellent way to pick up a small amount of fresh produce with no leftovers to contend with.

For example, one Davita recipe called for a small amount of iceberg lettuce. Your choices are buying a full sized head of lettuce or salad bags, both are large quantity.

By filling the store's small styro foam container with the exact amount of iceberg lettuce I need, I don't have nearly a full head of lettuce left unused. Point is, money saved by buying large quantities means nothing if you're dumping stale unused product in the trash.

Keep in mind, some stores treat their salad bar produce with chemical preservatives, some are harmless, some not. I asked what they used to treat their salad bar produce and researched it whether it is harmful or not. I read that the FDA has enforced restaurants and grocery stores on using safer chemicals for preservation on open produce.

Ingredients from Scratch

A few Davita recipes call for a very small amount of an ingredient that you will likely never use again, unless of course you make that same recipe again. Some of those one-time-use ingredients are either expensive or you can find it in large quantity only. For the latter, you now have left over ingredient you will likely have to throw out once it exceeds its shelf life.

For example, a Davita recipe called for Bechamel sauce. I've not seen that ingredient in any other Davita recipes so far. In this case, I found it online in small quantity, but it was expensive and it was a mix, so you still had to add ingredients.

For one-time-use ingredients, I search online for recipes to make it or find substitutes. Davita's cookbooks and online recipe search also have several recipes for ingredients from scratch (ranch dressing, lemon pepper seasoning, rice milk, tomato salsa, BBQ sauce, and more).

With Bechamel sauce, there were a number of recipes online how to make it from scratch and it was quite easy, not to mention much cheaper. Even the ingredients required were common items you would likely have on hand - milk, flour, butter, salt, pepper, and that's it. I was able to make the exact amount by adjusting the ingredient amounts appropriately. So no left over ingredient I will likely never use again.

Another example, many Davita recipes call for a small amount of almond milk. I always wind up with extra because it is difficult to find it in small quantity at the store. By using Davita's Homemade Almond Milk recipe, I can make the exact amount I need from raw almonds with no extra to store. It takes a little effort (you will need a cheese cloth), but it's not difficult at all. Also, the advantage of taking on the task of making homemade almond milk is it does not have the harmful nutrient levels as store bought.

Ingredients Substitutes

Substitutes sometimes become necessary especially if it's only one ingredient that's holding you up from completing a recipe. As I mentioned on my home page, you can use Google search to find substitutes for just about any ingredient. Some sources even provide visual charts with a wide variety of substitute options.

Then I use Davita's Food Analyzer Tool to see if the substitute is kidney friendly. Just be aware how the substitute affects the taste when combined with other ingredients.

For example, protein powder is called for in several Davita recipes. My store never seems to have plain protein powder, only flavored. I have found that vanilla flavored protein powder works quite well as a substitute for plain.

Just keep in mind if the recipe you are making calls for other ingredients like vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring, you could end up with an overpowering vanilla taste by using the vanilla flavored protein powder. The vanilla flavoring in the protein powder is a really bold vanilla flavor. So more often than not, I simply omit the other ingredient like vanilla extract.

Spice Inventory

Before going on a kidney-friendly diet, my meal planning was simplistic. Grill some meat outdoors or fix deli. Lather, rinse, repeat. I was stocked with little to no spices, so venturing into Davita's recipes, I wasn't prepared for the wide variety of spices that were required.

You can buy spice sets, but why buy spices you may never use. So I invested in a spice rack with empty bottles - a 72 count. As I continue trying different Davita recipes, I'm slowing building up a stock of spices that I'm more likely to use more than once.

Stocking a kitchen with a full compliment of spices is expensive as it is. So buying spices you will never use through a collection set is a waste of money. One might think buying them separately is more expensive than buying a collection set, but watching for spice sales online at my local grocery, there's little difference in pricing.

Stock Inventory

Quite often I make Davita recipes that call for a small amount of a certain ingredient and the rest sits in the freezer for weeks, even months. Long forgotten. A few times I have even bought an ingredient I didn't even know I had in the chest freezer.

For example, I made a recipe that called for just one teaspoon of Chia seeds. I had several ounces left over, read that they are safe to freeze, and it's buried somewhere in my chest freezer.

By keeping a spreadsheet, I never lose track what spices and other ingredients I have available. When I explore a new Davita recipe, I check my spreadsheet to see if I already have that ingredient.

Ingredients Processing

As I mentioned just above about spices, so too was my kitchen lacking an inventory of labor-saving food preparation appliances. Processing ingredients manually is grueling (hello hand cramps) and time consuming. I invested in six electric ingredients preparation appliances - spice grinder, grater, food processor, vacuum sealer, masticating juicer, and multi-function stand mixer.

As you can see I passed on the expensive high end appliances and went with low budget models. They don't have the volume capacity as high end models, but they serve a need for one or two, and of course, friendly to your budget. The stand mixer multi-functions as a mixer, meat grinder, and blender. This is a low priced mixer compared to the more expensive mixers like KitchenAid. The down side is this off brand mixer offers none of the wide variety of attachments available for a KitchenAid mixer.


Davita.com | Site design by SFMZone | TOP^