Quite a while back (pre-cancer surgery!) I did a post called I Will Eat All The Things, in which I waxed poetic about my plans to do more pantry cooking and spend less on dining out and buying of unnecessary groceries. While I haven’t necessarily blogged about it until now, I have definitely made inroads into doing more pantry-based cooking, up to and including consuming nonperishables from the deepest recesses of my cabinets. While I have achieved mixed results at times (including a couple of instances where my family gave me side-eye rather than eat whatever pantry-improvisational meal I had whipped up, using unconventional ingredients—I am looking at you, Weird Japanese Rice Dried-Seaweed Seasoning I Bought On A Whim at a Japanese Culture Festival, um, about EIGHT YEARS AGO—-by the way, it was still good!), the summation is that our family has definitely become more focused on eating what we have on hand over buying new stuff.
Now I am not perfect at this. (Nobody is.) I have not achieved full pantry-consumption levels as of yet, though I have gotten pretty good at clearing out the fridge frequently. (It helps that we buy only what we need from week to week in terms of perishables, and rely on the freezer as much as possible.) Here are some examples of what our pantry and fridge look like these days:
Now I have gotten rather adept at eating from the fridge and pantry for a while now, and the fact I work 100% from home except for the occasional meeting certainly helps with that. When it is time for me to have lunch, I simply mosey downstairs from my third-floor office down two flights of stairs to the kitchen, and see what I can procure myself from lunch. I sometimes buy food specifically for lunch that I can prepare and consume quickly (microwave-ready meals, packets of tuna) and other times I just reheat dinner leftovers from the night before. My husband and I (more my husband) have been buying in bulk at Costco a lot lately too, and sometimes my husband can get a little carried away with that, Lately as I have tried to chip away at some of the bulk buying with some rather, ahem, unusual food combinations. (Hello, sardines, black beans, and oyster-cracker lunches! Good morning, dried cranberries and flaxseed stirred into yogurt for breakfast! Good afternoon, handful of almonds and heat-and-eat lentil daal for lunch! Good evening, medley of whatever small amounts of frozen veggies I dug out of the freezer and stir-fried with whatever almost-empty jar of sauce I found in the fridge door for dinner!
I have actually lost some weight doing all of this. (Bonus!)
Where I still have room to improve is on our dining out. We typically dine out 1-2 times per week, although sometimes that creeps higher if I am running around to a bazillion places in the evenings/on weekends with the kids, and I end up having to grab-and-go something in between errands/activities to keep them from whining. My daughter in particular is an extremely picky eater (She eats about 5 different foods, two of which are on every fast-food menu. Sigh…) and I have yet to get her on board with a frugal pantry-eating lifestyle. (Truth be told, she is such a picky eater we had to take her to a food therapist because she was eating so little it harmed her health—it stems from a hospitalization she had at age 1 where she was force-fed for medical reasons, so please, don’t judge—we are doing the best we can just to get calories into her body). But my son is definitely getting interested in pantry-eating and cooking what is on hand. We are sending him to a nonprofit, Quaker-run summer sleepaway camp in June-July where he will learn, among other things, communal cooking from ingredients raised on a farm and/or donated by those who help support the camp, so I look forward to seeing what he can do after coming home from that. In the interim, he is eating things like canned soup, instant dried ramen noodle soup with frozen veggies stirred in (sometimes kale salad stirred in as wilted greens, when the kale has started to get too wilty for a salad), and other Aspiring Frugal Things.
We are in the midst of a Deep Freeze and Blizzard here at Chez Cheap Yuppie Mom, and cabin fever will definitely be setting in. This week I plan to deplete the freezer (Hello, frozen scone dough!) AND the pantry (Howdy, boxed mac-and-cheese! Good evening, instant oatmeal!) AND even the bulk-purchased stash my hubby keeps in the basement (Good afternoon, Hickory Farms Cheese and Whatever Weird Gift-Set Food We Got As Stocking-Stuffers from the Relatives!)
Should make for an interesting food week! I also need to do something about my Tea Stash. It has gotten altogether too large…..
I remain your Cheap Yuppie Mom.