Every few months I shop through my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. There is some great stuff in there! Part of the reason for doing this is the reverse impact on our budget 😊 The main reason, though, is to not WASTE. Not waste food or money. Simply put, it is bad stewardship to waste something that I’ve already paid for – there is hundreds of dollars of food in my kitchen just waiting to feed us!
Here’s basically what happens.
I get real with myself about the stuff I’ll never use – like some weird sauce with olives in it or canned mushrooms. I try to find someone to pass it along to or a food pantry. In the refrig, I toss the moldy things. Because there are always some -- today it was shriveled beets which made me sad because I love beets 😞
Then I pull to the front of the cupboards all the things I can use in meals. Coconut milk and ALL THE CANNED TOMATOES are the usual suspects. I do the same thing in the refrig – pull all the half-used sauces and jars. Figure out what is in the 84 bajillion leftover containers then either toss, combine, or eat while standing in front of the fridge.
The freezer can be tricky. We buy our meat in bulk so there is usually a lot. I try to rotate things when we get new stuff so that we eat the weird cuts of beef, make soup with the 93 lbs. of bones – seriously, who knew how many bones were in animals? I also tend to bury frozen vegetables in the freezer because FROZEN VEGETABLES. It’s the toddler inside me.
Then it’s go time.
I don’t do much planning as far as meals, maybe for a day or two, but the general goal is to use the stuff I’ve pulled forward while still eating sensibly. Which can be a little tricky when your options are an odd assortment of condiments, frozen veg, and strange cuts of beef and pork. But totally possible!
I’m currently in the midst of this process and here is how it’s going. Today for breakfast we polished off some cottage cheese, otherwise it was regular breakfast stuff for us – eggs, yogurt, restaurant leftovers lol. For lunch we had tuna salad with shriveling celery chopped to hide its imperfections and the last of the mayo, some lettuce that was near the end of its life and cut up fruit and veggies from our recent road trip. Dinner was apple slices from the aforementioned road trip and fried rice – about 2 cups of leftover rice fancied up like take-out fried rice using all supplies found in my fridge or pantry (carrots, onions, coconut aminos, garlic). Next up is ham and pineapple pizza using up lots of pantry (pineapple, tomato sauce) and freezer (ham) items.
We’ll keep using the food that we have in bulk like oatmeal and rice, nuts, milk, yogurt, and gf baking mixes. I also decided to use up the flour that is in my pantry to make *gasp* bread (we are, in general, gluten-free and almost entirely grain-free). Here’s the thing, though. I’ve got four bags of flour from the past few years that was used for making play-dough or relief maps and various other random projects. So, let’s put all that flour to use. I’m the only one that will be physically sick if I eat it so in the meantime my family can enjoy their toast and sandwiches. We will make granola with the nuts and coconut we have, we’ll make gf muffins with baking mixes and frozen fruit, soup with all the broth in the freezer, and generally feast like kings!
During this time I usually shop for fresh fruit and a bare minimum of vegetable (remember my frozen surplus). I also buy our snack staples but in a more limited quantity so that we focus on eating through the snacky type foods we already have.
It’s a good time for us to remember that we can’t be too picky. My kids would prefer to eat their favorite snacks or their favorite meals but this simple reminder to eat what has already been provided for us is a great lesson in stewardship, being unselfish, and gratitude.