Next Challenge: Eat from the Pantry

My challenge this week is to eat from the pantry. 

In other words, I hope to spend $0 on groceries this week. As I've mentioned before, there's a lot of food already here at the house. I went to Costco last week and stocked up on frozen fruit and veggies, so I don't need fresh fruits for smoothies. We also have a bunch of leftover taco fixings from a gathering we hosted last weekend. I'm pretty sure there's even a pizza or two in the freezer. 

So I'm not going to starve. Hopefully what will happen is I'll clear some room in the kitchen. And then NOT fill it back up with more stuff. 

I've been thinking about a few competing theories on food storage:

  • Buy as you eat: Buy food for the day, daily. The benefits of this include not needing space to store a bunch of excess food, knowing what you're in the mood for at the time of shopping, not cluttering up your space with foods you think you should eat but don't feel like eating, limiting food waste, etc. 
  • Stockpile: Then there's the "the world is going to end" philosophy of having a large supply of food at hand. Anyone who has the time to manage a backstock of food impresses me. But the word "manage" is important. If you're not managing the stock, eating the old food and moving in new food, it's not that great. I don't have time to manage even the small stash of food we have now, and thus it continues to grow. 
  • Meal planning: And there's the option where you have a definite plan for what you're going to eat for the next week, you buy what's needed for those things, and you eat them. I'm not there yet. 

Frugality favors buying in bulk and buying when things are on sale. It also favors cooking from scratch. Being busy favors having easy (usually more expensive) foods on hand, ready to go. 

I'd like to aim for something in the middle. It's nice to have a few things on hand to grab as easy meals. I've already downgraded my pizza consumption from delivery to frozen. We tried making our own, but that requires planning, and lots of times when I want pizza, it isn't planned. 

And while I don't want to buy small quantities of things we eat all the time when I could save money by buying in bulk, I also don't want to have a cabinet full of things we're not eating. I recently pulled out a jar of pickled beets and started eating them. They've been in the cabinet for at least two years. Pickled beets are one of my favorite foods, yet somehow they continued to sit there. That's the kind of thing I'd like to avoid. 

In the interest of decluttering, I thought about going through the cabinet and throwing out anything that had been there for at least a year. But in the interest of not wasting food, I can't do that. I did recently donate some shelf-stable beverages I decided we obviously weren't going to drink. I don't know how effective that is (do the donated beverages actually go to someone who wants/needs them?), but it seemed better than dumping them down the drain. 

The option that ended up making the most sense to me was to eat as much of what we have as we can before buying new things. Perhaps after clearing some things out, I'll have a better idea what to keep on hand and what to avoid. 

I might even consider trying a Capsule Kitchen challenge at some point. Similar to the capsule wardrobe, you choose 33 items and eat those items for three months. Condiments, like accessories, don't count. Maybe I'll do that some time. I'll let you know. 

I took some before pics, to show you what we have going into this, and I'll post "after" pics at the end of the week. 

Pantry, fridge and freezer, all pretty full. 

Pantry, fridge and freezer, all pretty full.