I spent quite a bit of time organizing in the garage. It has become a dumping ground for many things and it’s very unorganized. I keep many pantry items on shelves in there and that was all messed up, too. Normally, I go through all my canned and packaged food items in the spring, and then again in the fall. This fall, it just didn’t happen. I wanted to do it over the holiday break, but, nope….didn’t happen then either. I will blame it on Covid. Even though my case was the mildest one I’ve ever heard of. Covid. Right:).
Doing this is very important to me because when I sort it all, I check dates and make sure to move older things forward, or into the kitchen for immediate use, or throw them away if I’ve waited too long. Obviously, the goal is to use it, not toss it, so I normally keep on top of the project.
I have about 1/3 of the job done out there. I will continue to work out there whenever I have a bit of time this week. I’ve already found so many surprises. For instance, I’m almost out of brown sugar and canned mushrooms. I’ve apparently been buying refried beans for a day when I’m busy and don’t have time to make any for a long time. I have about 20 cans. They were up high, down low, and everywhere in-between, behind things, to the side…..Let’s blame that on Covid, too, shall we? Because there is absolutely no logical explanation for that one. At. All.
I cooked from the items I weeded out of the pantry, plus from the freezers and canning shelves. I did not shop at all this past week at the store, but instead ordered bulk items from Azure Standard. I needed some cleaning supplies as well as some items such as salt, pepper, Mexican seasoning, garlic powder, etc.
This picture is vegetarian spaghetti sauce made from aging tomato sauce and tomatoes from the shelves. I added celery, frozen peppers from our garden, onion bits and spices. The truth is, I make and use so many tomato products from our garden tomatoes that those cans were just languishing out there. I will use some of this right away, and freeze some in recycled cottage cheese cartons.
I used up 3 old cans of soup, a box of lemon pudding mix, those above mentioned tomato products, some pancake mix, partial boxes of cereal, a Chex Party Mix seasoning packet, and more. I refilled all my little spice jars in the kitchen from my bulk bags which emptied a couple of those in the garage, used a packet of pre-cooked rice, the bottom of several bottles of this and that from the fridge, and threw away a few items that were either old, or I figured we were never going to eat.
I am often given food. I find a use for almost all of it. But, occasionally, I never do finish it up. Sometimes, it is almost expired before it comes to me and we just can’t use it fast enough (a big bag of corn grits), and sometimes we just can’t stand it so never bring ourselves to use it up. I gave a few items away (all the baby food and snacks Malcolm doesn’t eat anymore).
I read quite a few blogs or listened to U-Tube vlogs about various pantries. I got some great ideas I’d love to implement at a future date.
I also listened to or read about various pantry challenges. It was amazing. Several people are doing these challenges this time of year. In the few I watched or read, people ranged from buying nothing for several weeks or even months while eating only their stored food, to cutting back to “only” $100 per week. The first one has even more preserved than I do! The second one’s grocery budget is obviously much higher than mine to start with. I did see that they only had 4 people in their family, as I wondered if they had 10 kids or something. I decided from all my reading/listening that I didn’t want to do a formal pantry challenge with any rules, but instead just do what I always do: clean the pantry out and use up anything I can find that needs using while putting it into good shape so I can easily find everything I need. And quit buying refried beans:)
I gained tremendous respect for some of the people who are so self disciplined and creative that they can go so long without visiting a store. I found a few new recipes or ways to use my home-preserved food, and that’s always welcome! I’m always happy to get new ideas.
I’m hoping to get a long ways on this project this week. We had a lot of meetings at church last week, including a 6-hour one all day Saturday, so was gone a lot. This week is much quieter, and I hope to have more time to focus on this, and other projects.