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A 5 THINGS LIST: 5 inexpensive things your mom/family cook Could Not have had on hand when you were growng up that you Always do

1. kimchi

2. frozen edamame

3. pink Himalayan salt

4. fresh cilantro

5. Coke Zero

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  1. 1. Coconut milk
    2. Organic milk (maybe it was around but I'd never heard of it)
    3. Lentils
    4. Spiced chai
    5. Fresh ginger

    4 Replies
    1. re: Hobbert

      That's interesting Hobbert: your list has all the things that my mom's kitchen did have when we were growing up, because those are the local ingredients.
      Coconuts were plentiful; extract your own coconut water and coconut milk.
      All the milk was organic in the sense that this was before the days of large scale commercial milk production, hormones, etc. The problem was that unless your supplier was reputable, the milk was likely watered down.
      Without dals and spices there would be no kitchen.
      Powdered ginger (sonth) was a specialty, fresh was more common.
      My parents were more coffee drinkers than tea drinkers, so masala chai was not a staple, but it was widely known.

      Everything was inexpensive because we had to stretch the paycheck and buy seasonal.

      Not in my mom's kitchen:
      canned food,
      boxed food (other than cornflakes),
      frozen food,
      soya based products (similar to TVP) were just emerging, but things like tofu, tempeh, soymilk etc unknown.
      International foods (pasta, olive oil, Thai, Mexican etc ingredients)

      I realize now that this is why my pantry has twice the contents of my parents': I have all their staples as well as all mine.

      1. re: Rasam

        1. Baking supples (mom hated to bake)
        2. Marshmallows (there were no truly kosher ones back then)
        3. Quinoa
        4. Almond milk
        5. Trader Joe's ground beef style soy crumbles

        Plus various canned tomato prducts (mom only had tomato sauce), seitan, light mayo, 'exotic' apples like Gala and Fuji, lots of dufferent cheese and Coconut Blss ice cream.

        1. re: Rasam

          Where did you grow up? I've only lived in the rural VA/MD/WV area so the idea of "international" food was met with skepticism. Even now, there's a distinct difference between my kitchen and my parents'. We always bought half a steer every year and rarely bought meat at the store. Interestingly, my husband grew up in the same area but in suburbia and thought the concept of buying meat from an actual animal we had seen was just bizarre. Funny how different families have such different experiences.

        2. re: Hobbert

          Crystal Lite
          Diet Coke
          Broccoli (fresh or frozen)
          Almond Milk
          Fresh peppercorns/grinder

        3. 1. sriracha
          2. curry powder
          3. ginger
          4. ice cream cones
          5. marshmallow fluff

          1. 1. Olive Oil
            2. Old Bay
            3. Margarine
            4. Dinner wines
            5. Fresh fish

            1. 1. Wagyu Hot Dogs
              2. Texmati Rice
              3. Broccoflower
              4. Diet Dr. Pepper
              5. to some extent Coor's Beer (we lived in NJ)

              1. I grew up in the sixties/seventies. We had one large "national" grocery store and one small family owned market. There were no fast food restaurants and the closest we had to an "ethnic" one was a red sauce Italian place. The grocery store had no "ethnic" section and even the vegetables were as American as they come. Needless to say there was no online options.

                So basically all of my "inexpensive" pantry staples were unavailable to my parents except on the rare trip into the city to hit Chinatown and the specialty markets.

                So top 5?

                1. unusual dried pasta shapes-farfalle, etc
                2. Asian hot sauces
                3. fresh ginger
                4. frozen edamame (for that matter any edamame)
                5. all my indian and Asian spices
                6. frozen "gourmet" pizza ala TJ's alsacian tart
                7. jarred artichokes

                1 Reply
                1. re: foodieX2

                  You just described my existence in Petaluma Ca. in the 1960's and 1970's.

                2. 1. More readily available "exotic" fruits and veggies, like pepper varieties, Caribbean fruits, etc.

                  2. micro greens

                  3. white tea--in bags!

                  4. nut butters (other than peanut)

                  5. very dark eating chocolate (90%0

                  1. 1. Olive oil (she had it, but didn't use it much)
                    2. Sriracha
                    3. Various hot chili powders
                    4. Shallots
                    5. Various mustards

                    Where I'm from (central CA), lots of great produce was available even when I was a kid in the 80s. My parents were also Costco members from very early on so they had access to things that a lot of people back then didn't.

                    1. Eeenteresting question.
                      1. cilantro
                      2. lime
                      3. saffron
                      4. smoked paprika
                      5. basil (the leaf, not the McCormick's dried kind)

                      ETA--the last time my 'rents visited, my mom stood out on my terrace looking at all my herbs and asked why I didn't just use the dried kind at the store because it's so much easier O_o

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: alliegator

                        Saffron is inexpensive where you live? Whoa. Lucky you!

                        1. re: linguafood

                          Yup, super cheap because I steal it ;) I misread and didn't catch the inexpensive part.
                          I'll edit my number 3 the to be black peppercorns as opposed to the container of finely ground black pepper.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            It is probably not the highest quality of saffron but my son buys his@World Market (Cost Plus) I usually purchase all of my spices and dried herbs there also.The saffron is from India packaged in a tiny little tin for under $3.00 for a few threads that you might be able to use for a few months.

                              1. re: grampart

                                I will be sure to forward your link to World Market executives STAT!!!:) Thank you.

                        2. Growing up in Buffalo in the 50s/60s:

                          1. fresh herbs or spices other than horseradish
                          2. yogurt
                          3. Indian pickles
                          4. fresh limes and lemons
                          5. Two Buck Chuck and other inexpensive but drinkable wines

                          Re some of the other comments; ice cream cones were available in larger groceries when I was a kid - I remember them coming in various colors. The large variety of pasta shapes may be a regional thing: when I moved closer to NYC, where there was a larger population of Italian ancestry, the stores carried an aisle of different pasta shapes as opposed to the 2 or 3 I remember as a child.

                          I understand the remark about the fresh herbs: most of my family seem unable to recognize raw ingredients as food.

                          1. 1. Orange Juice
                            2. Egg Nogg (during the holidays)
                            3. REAL vanilla
                            4. Breakfast sausage
                            5. Bacon

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                No, we were a military family. we only got paid once a month and it had to stretch.

                            1. 1. Any hot sauce, we normally have chohula, siracha, dave's etc.
                              2. The variety of vinegars and oils.
                              3. Quina, barley, couscous, steel cut oats are starches I normally have on standby.
                              4. Red meat of any kind, NY strip about one a month and beef stew in the winter, burgers in the warm months.
                              5. Sugary breakfast cereal, usually as a after dinner snack.

                              1. Almond milk
                                Ten kinds of mustard

                                It's funny that some of the items people listed are things we used regularly in the 60's... Curry powder, lentils, ice cream cones, Old Bay, margarine, saffron. And everything Potatohouse listed. There are regional foods that I never heard of growing up. Grits, for instance. Or pierogi or blintzes.

                                1. whole coffee beans
                                  olive oil in sizes less than a 3 gallon can
                                  ground turkey
                                  frozen artichokes
                                  pumpkin ice cream

                                  1. White wine vinegar
                                    Sweet Potato chips
                                    Chicken sausage
                                    Ground chicken
                                    Lactose free milk

                                    1. Balsamic vinegars
                                      Multiple oils (olive, veg, walnut, peanut, sesame)
                                      Multiple salts (kosher, iodized, flavored, crystal flaked)
                                      Fresh herbs
                                      Condiments (Remoulade, multiple mustards, banana ketchup, different jellies and jams, relishes, and Asian ones like kimchi, youzu, yuzu juice, sesame sauce, miso, pickled ginger)

                                      My Mom calls me the Condiment Queen, and I take it as a compliment.....

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                        The walnut oil you can get is inexpensive? Can you share the brand and/or store you buy it?

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          The brand is called International Collection. It's been in my fridge for a while, may even be no good anymore, haven't used it in a while. I cannot recall exactly where I bought it and how much it was, but I am almost positive I picked it up at a local grocery store, not a specialty food store. Next time I'm shopping I will look to see if they carry it and let you know the cost.

                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                            Thanks! Wegmans used to carry the Loriva brand (they also do peanut, sesame and other oils), which is fine, but they no longer have it. I might hafta check Giant today.

                                            I've seen the International Collection but don't remember where now.

                                            I love the La Tourangelle brand, but that's quite expensive.

                                            Walnut oil is one of my favorite 'cooking' oils.

                                          2. re: linguafood

                                            BTW I was at HomeGoods the other day and they had cans of walnut oil... maybe 8ish ounces? They were around $6 I believe. They also had avocado oil and a few other oils too.

                                        2. 1.Olive oil.....Mom used Crisco.....lard and bacon grease
                                          2. Mixed micro salad greens......it was usually butter lettuce..ice berg or red lettuce.
                                          3. Affordable wines.....I grew up 12 miles west of wine country but California wines were just beginning to be mass marketed.
                                          4.Soy sauce..Tamari....never tasted the stuff until I met my Eurasian (late) husband:)
                                          5.Whole coffee beans........Folgers was their caffeine of choice.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Lillipop

                                            I find it unfathomable growing up without Asian foods. I grew up a Navy B.R.A.T. (Born, Raised, And Trapped) and due to our time in Hawaii and California, my culinary life as a child was heavily entwined in Asian culture and foods, But also being raised with a Southern influence I find it just as unfathomable that my New England wife grew up never having sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast.

                                            1. re: PotatoHouse

                                              Do you really?Find it unfathomable:) Sorry to hear that. You obviously did not grow up in Petaluma Ca.:)

                                          2. 1) asian side dishes/garnishes/ condiments (kimchi, gari, do chua, nori, fish sauce, wasabi, furikake, tsukemono, takuan, gochujang, curry pastes, etc)
                                            2) locally-sourced foods
                                            3) special "method" foods (organic, non-GMO, hormone-free, etc)
                                            4) fresh asian herbs/veg/fruit (pea shoots, cilantro, thai basil, lemongrass, daikon, maitake, shiitake, persimmon, mangosteen, etc)
                                            5) "alternative" foods (quinoa, tempeh, seitan, soba, almond flour, etc)

                                            i don't know how much of it she "couldn't" have had, since i grew up in the 80s/90s in san francisco/seattle, but these are all things i always have in my kitchen that i don't remember being present in my house as a kid...

                                            1. Well, born in 1944 in a region which became East Germany, I would say first of all any fruit or vegetable out of season. And if you were lucky, your fruits were without inhabitants.
                                              My mother would probably tell you that in the early years after the war, EVERYTHING from flour to butter to eggs.

                                              1. Cornichons and/or dill pickles.


                                                Ice cream

                                                Mustard (all types and kinds)

                                                At least six boxes of different cereals (usu Golean Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap'n Crunch, etc)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Why didn't your family have mustard on hand? Or ice cream?
                                                  I can't understand any of these except cornichons. Enlighten me.

                                                2. 1. Soy Sauce
                                                  2. Diet Coke
                                                  3. Horseradish
                                                  4. Potato flakes

                                                  1. 1. blue box of mac n cheese
                                                    2. good bacon
                                                    3. romaine lettuce
                                                    4. dark chocolate
                                                    5. frozen shrimp

                                                    1. 1. Low-cal drink mixes
                                                      2. Fresh Lemons
                                                      3. Kimchi
                                                      4.long pepper
                                                      5. Heavy cream

                                                      1. 1. Bacon
                                                        2. Sake and shaoxing wine
                                                        3. A bottle of gin
                                                        4. Hondashi
                                                        5. Dreamfields pasta

                                                        1. 1. Fresh mushrooms of any sort
                                                          2. Fresh herbs other than curly parsley sold for fancy garnishing
                                                          3. Yogurt. We first tried it when a company was "introducing it" at county fair in the late '60's/early '70's and were not enamored. We liked the new frozen slurpee drinks introduced at the same fair much more!
                                                          4. Asian ingredients of any sort. The only ingredients that remotely nodded towards any part of Asia were Chun King dinner packages. They were a two part kit where you added the protein. This was the only brand of soy sauce in our area. They also had canned water chestnuts and canned bean sprouts.
                                                          5. Wider variety of fresh vegetables. Lettuce was iceberg. Cabbage was just red or green - no Napa, etc. No mini vegetables. Potatoes were red, russet or white - no Yucon gold, purple, etc. Peppers were green bell and regional Cubano peppers.

                                                          1. 1. Red peppers (green were cheaper)
                                                            2. Fresh cilantro
                                                            3. Fish sauce
                                                            4. Boxed chicken broth
                                                            5. Heavy cream

                                                            1. From the south side of Chicago until 1965.

                                                              Frozen pizza

                                                              Any hot sauce besides Tabasco

                                                              Fresh herbs

                                                              Wine at home

                                                              German coffee and espresso

                                                              1. Good topic.
                                                                Everything you said. Plus:
                                                                1. Boca or any sort of pre-made veggie burgers
                                                                2. Any "Artisan" bread, except french bread. We did have a few bakeries that made baguettes, but the grocery stores sold white bread and Roman Meal, as the token wheat bread.
                                                                3. Any fresh herb except curly parsley.
                                                                4. Parmesan cheese that didn't come in the green can.
                                                                5. Tofu

                                                                When i was a kid in the 60's the only diet sodas that i knew of were Tab and Fresca. I don't think it was until the 70's until we got diet coke.