Retirement Remedies: Basics Instinct

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.

                              A pan of Sweet n Saltines, a perfect example for today's post

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:

It's the same spread, but paired with the blue and brown chevron curtains it's a different look entirely from the look paired with cream and red accessories.  It's enough change that most people might simply glance at the two photos and think, "Ha...she has two blue spreads in different shades of blue."  In reality it's the accessories that brought out a different color intensity in the same spread.  What it is paired with is what changes the way the color appears.  Note too that the feeling in each room is completely different.  The previous bedroom may be country in feeling but the bedroom just above is definitely cottage feeling.  And yet that spread worked well in both rooms.  It would do just as well in any room including a modern room because the color and style is a basic classic.

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!


Lana said...

I so agree about the basic foods never getting thrown out. I have learned to leave those convenience foods at the store because we do not like them.

Along the same line as your bedroom change up is a huge change we made to the front of our house by just painting the shutters a different color. Our house looks new and neighbors have gone nuts over the incredible change for only one gallon of paint and a day of work.

Lana said...

ANother thought-have you ever had your colors done? As in the book 'Color Me Beautiful'? I know that is an old out of date idea but a group of friends and I did it 25 plus years ago and if you know your colors and shop for only those colors then everything you have in your closet goes together. It is pretty awesome. I still buy about 80% of only my colors and it does make it easier to put pieces together.

Anonymous said...

Such a simple thought but a profound statement. You are so right!!! :-))) Sarah

vickie morgan said...

Sometimes just a change up and not anything new is the way to go.
Your right substitutions can be found anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. I like the pics since I'm visual! Pam

Karla Neese said...

Such a good post, this is! It's a great reminder about getting back to basics. I find even on the basics, I have to remember to really go back to basic on those items - like rice and beans. A bag of beans and a bag of rice costs a fraction of the price of the same thing pre-cooked or "instant"! And yet, if I take just a few minutes the night before and soak a bag of beans and put them in the slowcooker the next morning, I have a whole bunch of beans for less than the price of that 1 can. Same with rice, oats, etc.

Fashion/wardrobe is an area I struggle with. I do have basics but I often just lack the courage to dress them up.

Coral is one of my neutrals as well and I love it as well as the light aqua color. I used to bemoan the fact that I wear so very much black to work but it's so easy to mix and match!! I have black and brown as my two basics for bottoms - a black skirt, brown skirt, black shoes, brown shoes, black slacks, brown slacks and then the tops I have can go with any of those combos.

Thanks for sharing your Pinterest wardrobe idea finds and your real life equivalents. That helps me a lot!

Anonymous said...

As far as "basic" decorating. As you know, if your home has the same 'feel' and colors all over it is easier to move objects or linens around to get a fresh new feel at any time. If it has each room a totally different color palette or theme it is harder. Our home is cottage/garden but the front room is decorated with a western cowboy theme as it is a favorite of hubby. Even so it uses the same colors and I can switch out linens and pillows and few things. The rest of the house gets an ever changing look from moving a picture or linens or flowers or such.
I never had thought about "basics" like that in cooking the way you have presented it to us. In some ways yes, but not the total picture you gave us. :) This way of thinking of cooking leads to less different ingredients in the pantry yet more variety of meals to choose from. :) Ya've got me thinking of redos in my basic cooking foods now! :-))) More fun,...and it is all your fault! lol Sarah

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