With October less than a few days away and my pantry challenge more than over, this topic is past due.
My stream of consciousness while planning September drove this list. It’s helpful to see on paper the good and the bad that comes from keeping my pantry well stocked (or not). Maybe it’ll help curb the instinct to buy more than what we really need.
It’s ok to run out of things.
Running out of “staples” forces me to get out of my kitchen comfort zone. Breakfast bread without eggs? Totally possible. Spanish rice without bacon? Yep, sure can do! Black bean brownies? Oh.Yeah.Baby.
Sometimes running out of things is the better option.
We ran out of ranch dressing so we made our own. It was delicious, significantly cheaper and much healthier than anything the store offered.
Buying in bulk isn’t always the best option.
Eight cans of cranberry sauce revealed themselves when I moved a can of soup. Considering they were bough on clearance after Thanksgiving last year, it was evident that I purchased them without a plan in mind.
Buying in bulk can sometimes be the best option.
Making bread – sweet breads, oatmeal loaves, dinner rolls and naan – has become second nature. If it weren’t for the 50 pound bag of flour under my stairs, there would be many more shopping trips featuring items from Target’s $1 bin.
Go easy on the “treats.”
Christmas season and homemade cookies go hand in hand, and apparently rice krispy treats too. How many batches of these gooey treats can a family make in a six-week holiday season? Apparently enough to warrant buying three bags of marshmallows… that still remain unopened in the pantry because one batch of sweetness was enough.
Don’t Buy Things Unless There Is a Specific Purpose
There was no purpose for the pound of raw black beans that was in the pantry. No recipe in mind, no fellowship meal that called for ten cups of cooked beans. I bought them because I wanted the family to eat more beans. That alone is not enough – proven by the raw bag of kidney beans that was also in the pantry.
The original purpose doesn’t have to be the only purpose.
Mr. Crumbs was given several ingredients for his homemade ice cream adventure. Macadamia nuts are not our first choice for an ice cream topping, so they were re-purposed to macadamia and parmesan crusted tilapia instead.
In order to effectively meal plan, I need to know what I have.
This means going through each shelf of each cupboard (and fridge and freezer) and writing down what exactly is on it. In addition to what it is, write down how many there are. This gives me a starting point with meals and a goal to work towards.
Eat what you have first.
Eating the food you already have is money you could be saving. If there’s a bag of mixed vegetables in the freezer, why buy more? If you don’t eat that can of chicken noodle soup, who will?
Don’t Buy What You Know You Won’t Eat
So then… realizing these lessons is one thing. Learning from them and applying them is something else. This list will be my first stop when planning for the month of October!