Inspired by this recent post on the eGullet forums (and whomever pointed me to this, let me know in the comments section, because I can’t remember who you are!), I decided to take stock of my cupboard, fridge and freezer. The post calls for people to go without shopping for a week and instead live off the bulk of their presumably packed pantries:
Surely I’m not alone in having a freezer and pantry full of food, much of which will get thrown out as it expires over the course of the coming months and years. Indeed, I live in a small apartment. People with houses, basement freezers and walk-in pantries surely have far more of this stuff lying around than I do. Surely I’m not alone in having overbought at the supermarket last week. Surely I’m not alone when I get home from the supermarket and can barely fit the new food in the refrigerator because there’s so much of the old stuff. Surely I’m not alone in being able to skip a week of shopping and still eat well.
So let’s do it again, together. Let’s all skip a week of shopping. Let’s declare national eat the stuff in our freezers and pantries week.
Think about it from an economic standpoint. Times are tough right now. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, this experiment will put $100 back in your pocket quicker than you can say stimulus. If you’re home 50 weeks of the year and you perform this experiment once per quarter, you’ll reduce your grocery bill by 8%.
So this Sunday, I’m not going shopping. And whether you shop on the weekend or on another day, I’m asking you not to shop either. Instead, let’s eat all the stuff we already have around. And let’s talk about it, compare photos, help one another figure out what to do with that jar of giardiniera or that packet of pilaf.
I know plenty of people (Mom, I’m looking at you!) who could comfortably subsist on the contents of their pantries for a week, if not an entire month. In fact, my great-grandmother and great-grandfather — notorious horders who kept huge freezers full of food on their property in anticipation of the next stock market crash or an impending zombie apocalypse — would have stared this challenge in the face and laughed hysterically at it.
I, however, cannot. I’m not an all-at-once kind of shopper. I love Costco, but don’t buy in bulk. Instead, I go shopping nearly every day, buying whatever looks best for dinner that night and grabbing any staples that may have run out. That said, I’ve been…a bit busy lately. Without elaborating, allow me to simply run down a quick list of what is currently residing in my fridge, freezer and nearly-bare cupboard.
Contents of Fridge
- Half-empty bottle of orange juice
- Carton of expired half and half
- Four sticks of butter
- Mostly empty bottle of discount ketchup
- Two mostly empty jars of artichoke marinara sauce (this is particularly shameful, since I’d rather make my own marinara sauce but am often short on time)
- Two wilted carrots
- Half a gallon of milk
- Handful of grapes
- Two takeout containers that may or may not have become sentient
- Bottle of Zubrowka (Polish buffalo grass vodka)
- Bottle of Dogfish Head Fort
- Bottle of Ace Pear Cider
- Two cans of Boddington’s
- Bottle of half-consumed Castell del Remei
- Bottle of Happy Camper cabernet sauvignon
- Bottle of scary-looking chardonnay
- Bottle of undetermined provenance, with no label, that has some kind of odd cork contraption on top slightly resembling a champagne bottle
- Bottle of Boone’s Farm “Blue Hawaiian”
Contents of Freezer
- Bag of peas
- Unknown hunk of frozen meat
Contents of Pantry
- 18 different boxes of tea
- Jar of honey
- Nearly empty bottles of balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and vegetable oil
- Half-eaten jar of peanut butter
- Can of sliced peaches bought before Hurricane Ike
- Box of kosher salt
- Two boxes of Jell-O
- Five cans of evaporated milk (???)
- Tiny can of tomato paste
- Can of black beans
- Can of turnip greens
- Two snack portions of applesauce (also leftover from Ike)
- Tin of sardines
- Canister of Bisto “Chip Shop Curry” granules
- Half-sack of cornmeal
- Half-sack of flour
- Canisters of white sugar, brown sugar and yet more flour
As you can see, having too much wasted food in my pantry isn’t such a problem. Living off this dreck for a week would be, however. And I do believe it’s even more worrisome that I have such bizarre and disgusting collection of alcoholic beverages squatting in the bottom of the fridge. Boone’s Farm? Wow.
But if any of you intrepid cooks out there feel that you could put together meals for a day — let alone a week! — based upon the sorry contents of my kitchen, I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below. And you say I never challenge you…