Cooking Challenge: Clean out your pantry
|Our Empty Freezer: Ice, Edamame, Pasta Sauce, Emergency Meal, Ginger, Soy Sausage, Frozen Pastry|
The other week, I sat down and looked at my budget. Not because I needed to, but because I was curious about how much we spend vs. how much we could save. I realized, not surprised at all, that our biggest expenditure is food. We love food. We love cooking good food. We love fantastic restaurants. Mostly, we just love a good meal.
In the pursuit of a good meal, I lost any sense of the frugality I had ten years after graduating from college. Back then, my best friend Fee and I ate succotash, homemade bagel pizzas, and plain pasta for dinner–and those were separate dinners. As an intern, I made nothing, but the pursuit of a career meant I didn’t mind the meager rations and weight loss. Looking back, Fee, AAM, and I laugh about it often. What were we thinking? The funny thing is, even then we figured out how to make a meal out of a few ingredients. When thinking about this recently, I realized that my pantry became a sign of my own gluttony. I bought random items, thinking about possibilities, without a plan. So, the past four weeks. I successfully kept our grocery budget at a minimum (under $50), and we cooked through the cabinets.
Cooking through the pantry taught me several things:
- You don’t need a full pantry to have a full stomach.
- Being forced to look at certain ingredients created creative meals, which helped me remember about different food combinations.
- It also made for some gross meal combos, so it is better to only buy what is necessary for a recipe.
- I buy some really crazy ingredients, which means I needed to make things like pumpkin ravioli in the summer.
- I need to rethink what ingredients I use and don’t use, watch sales, and stick to the staples.
- Time to make a staples list.
- I have too many bottles of various vinegars, and I don’t use anything but balsamic. Time to get REALLY creative.
- A full fridge hides the dirt. Ewww, I needed to clean it!
Budgeting your kitchen does not need to be an exercise in emergency, but a smart way to approach cooking and life. After research, and my decision to build a vegetarian lifestyle, I am going to rebuild the pantry strategically.
And now, after a month, things are pretty barren over here. I have a twisted pride over the emptiness of our kitchen. I think we could go another week, but we are going out of town. Including the freezer shot above, here are some photos: