Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pantry Challenge: How Are You Going to Eat This Month?

Can you eat from just your pantry, fridge and freezer for the next 30 days? 

For the next 30 days or so, that's what I plan to do. I've done it before...and others do it regularly this time of the year. For good reasons:

*You're paying off holiday bills.

*The kitchen's still stuffed with leftovers from said holidays.

*You're sick and tired of dragging all this extra stuff around (And watching it spoil.) And of course:

*It would be nice to begin the new year with some saved money.

So here's your chance...
    and a good way to start: 
                       CLEAN OUT THE REFRIGERATOR.

*What's going strong? (Citrus, celery, stored apples and such should still be doing okay -- but add them to soups, stews and desserts if they're not.)

*What's starting to show its age? Clip off the nasty parts -- and use up the rest.

*What can be combined with items in your freezer and on your shelves? 

Maybe a salad from all the bits and pieces

Now you're starting to consider this properly. Don't forget to use up the bits & pieces in your fridge, either. (I'm speaking from experience -- two pieces of leftover pizza, cut in squares and heated, stretched a can of chicken soup into supper tonight.)

But don't let it drag on you -- this is not supposed to be a burden. Stop if you need to. And don't be so strict that you must skimp on birthdays and other celebrations. This is just temporary.

Here's what I plan to do:

*Use the fridge items first...the celery's looking fine, but I have several bits and pieces of cheese that need to go away. (Solution: macaroni & cheese.) Half a head of cabbage is starting to show black around the edges. (Pull those leaves, give them to the chickens, and use the rest for tomato-and-cabbage-soup. Or maybe minestrone. Here's a good recipe.) Citrus and apples are okay right now. So is a pound of turkey bacon.
        *I'll scrub both crispers out, so it looks tidier in there, anyways.
        *The fridge door is crammed with bottles that have just a 'little' sauce. These will be combined, used up or thrown away.
       *Several yogurts need to be eaten. What we can't use will go to the chickens. (They LOVE dairy.)
       *Generally we're okay on eggs. In fact, we sell 3-5 dozen a week to customers. They love them, and it helps the chickens pay for themselves. Plus we get plenty of eggs for our own use.
      If you can't say this, add $3 or so to the amount below.

fresh eggs...mmm.

*Keep a small $$ weekly for milk and markdowns. We drink about 1 1/2 gallons a week -- that's $1.99/gal. I'll try hard to keep it at $5 weekly, but will stretch to $10 if there's something incredible.

*Clear away and tidy up as I go. As the freezer and shelves hopefully empty, I'll wipe down, consolidate and throw away too-old and stale items as I find them. (This is tough for me...but it's needed. Can you hear the Brick cheering?)

A pound of venison from the latest trade is thawing in the refrigerator -- maybe lawnmower tacos? Naah,  Porcupine rice, I think.      
     Saute a cup of rice and your meat together -- add a tablespoon or packet of onion soup mix, about 5 cups water, and whatever veggies you've got, chopped fine. (Maybe that celery, plus carrots from the everpresent bag in the crisper. Complements the sage flavor our Colorado mulies get, from foraging through the brush. Cornfed whitetails -- those are further east.) Cook about 20 min., until rice is done. Serves 4-6.

I've also got a package of turkey hot dogs in the cooler. Maybe pigs in the blanket? (That recipe's coming shortly.) Serve a little dipping sauce with them -- that would take care of at least one of the bottles on the refrigerator door. Hmmm...

What could you do? Join me -- and lots of others -- in a pantry challenge. I'll keep you posted each week on my progress. 

What -- not eat out all the time, and actually SAVE MONEY?!

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