Today let's talk about basics. My friend Dawn wrote on her blog awhile back that she'd been cleaning her pantry. She said that as she tossed foods into the trash that had expired, "I noticed that I almost never had to toss the basics...only the convenience foods."
I realized that she was very right and wise in that assessment as I thought back to my own recent pantry clearing. I seldom had to throw away good basic foods or ingredients.
My inspiration today was a reminder of that statement of hers. I came across two sources on Pinterest today: my wardrobe boards and a recipe that was just a few ingredients different from a basic recipe in my own kitchen. What am I on about? Well, simply put, if you deal with basics (classics in fashion design terms) you'll double your mileage nearly every single time!
Let's start with the kitchen example. The recipe I read on Pinterest (and saved) was for a Coconut Ginger red beans and rice. A simple enough change in seasonings and you have a basic beans and rice meal with enough twist to feel you've got a new dish. The basics are beans and rice. Think of these other examples: Kidney bean and rice salad, black beans and yellow rice, bean and rice burritos, Santa Fe Beans and Rice casserole. You're still using the same two basic ingredients with minor changes in the beans and seasonings or presentation, yet each recipe makes an entirely different meal.
The recipe in the photo above is another good example. In the past, I have made the Sweet N Saltines recipe as it is written, and then I've made it with Matzo crackers left over from Passover and sprinkled sliced almonds atop. I've used graham crackers and vanilla chips and sprinkled over toasted pecans. I might also sprinkle over peanut butter chips for a whole new flavor. It's the same recipe every time, but it tastes different each time I change up the ingredients just slightly. None of the ingredients cost much more than the others, so the recipe remains economical but versatile.
Here's another basic foods example: diced uncooked chicken, celery, carrots, onion. Simple enough in itself. But with those basics I can easily make: Almond Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken a la King. Cook the chicken and keep the other ingredients and I can make Chicken Salad, Chicken Turnovers, Chicken Lo Mein or Chicken Fried Rice.
It's the same principle with wardrobe items. Here are basic photos I've pinned. Now I do recall the skirt in the top two photos is not a taupe chevron like the last two, but for the sake of this exercise let's pretend they are. They look enough alike to pass for one another. See how each time an element or two is changed, the look changes. It's the same basic piece grounding each outfit but the styles vary simply by the addition and subtraction of different accessories and pieces.
I've a few more outfits to put together with items in my own wardrobe. You will see some basic pieces moving between outfits. If I kept this up all summer (I won't), you'd soon see what appears to be repeat outfits but there would be some variation in accessories. It's the same basic components with just a few tweaks that will change the look enough to make those same old items feel fresh and different.
White tees (or button down shirts) and blue jeans are genuine basics. We've seen them dressed up and dressed down. You can look quite classic with a cardigan or pullover sweater, add a blazer and a beautiful scarf or nicer jewelry and be dressed for most day to day occasions, including work. You can add a straw bag and flip flops and be dressed for a casual day grocery shopping or going to the ball game.
Most fashion experts will urge you to choose a neutral palette. Any color clothing that suits you personally, can become a wardrobe neutral, did you know that? For example in my own closet, I have about 3 coral shirts in various color intensities and styles. That is a basic for me. I can pair coral with olive, with green, with navy, with black, with white, with brown, with turquoise. I can pair coral with gold or silver or bronze. It works with all those colors. I get good mileage from it. It suits me very well.
Just look how my bedding changed in these two photos as another example:
So here's my point: one of the best ways we can save money whether we're in the kitchen, the wardrobe closet or decorating our home, is to look for basics that we can use in multiple ways to achieve different things. Basics always give the most mileage for your money. It's all about basics instinct!