Eat From The Larder Challenge: Week Two Wrap Up

Well, here we are, two weeks into the Eat From The Larder Challenge.

I’m starting to get resentful about constantly having to feed people. And this is weird, because I typically love feeding people. This past week was Spring Break, so the kids were home. It’s like they get hungry 74 times a day. I always swore I wouldn’t be one of those moms who became the short-order cook for her family, but this past week it’s felt like that’s my role.

We are way past the “easy last minute meals” stage too. There are no cheese and crackers unless I make crackers. Milk is nearly gone. As they say, there is no food in the house, only ingredients to make food. I am the official ingredient alchemist, so food creation falls to me and falls to me and falls to me.

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It’s been really gorgeous weather lately so I’ve been spending my free time outside, getting my garden on, not rolling out rosemary sesame crisps for a couple of perpetually hungry monkeys. The temptation to yell stuff like, “Didn’t I just feed you people?!” has been strong.

When I’m less cranky and playing the world’s tiniest violin of obnoxious privilege a bit less, it hits home that this is absolutely what this challenge is all about. It’s one thing to have the foodstuffs, it’s quite another to hump the line (as we used to say in the restaurant industry) day in and day out, making something with them. Do I owe the readers who initially questioned the validity of this idea of eating from food storage an apology? Perhaps.

Saving Dough And Making Dough

And yet there are these moments when I look at my freezer, no longer over-full of random bits and bobs, and I’m quite proud that we are doing this – eating down this inventory and saving hundreds of dollars. Homebrew Husband and I had been jogging away nicely on the treadmill of hedonic adaptation. The amazing experience of any date night at all, ever, became a weekly scheduled date night which became coffeeshop time which became brewery night which became – as often as not – a casual neighborhood dinner and drinks.

Have you priced dinner and drinks for two lately at your local cozy neighborhood eatery? Sixty to eighty bucks, easy. Another $40 to the babysitter and we had just drifted our way into a $100+ a week habit. We know better, of course, but knowing and doing are not the same, and “we didn’t have a date for 2-and-a-half-years” was a justification that seemed perfectly reasonable to our overtaxed selves as we fled the little voices calling out, “But mommmmmmm, what’s for dinner?”

Going cold turkey on the dining out has been good for us and our savings rate, but we aren’t skipping date night entirely. We are back to thermal mugs full of homemade drip coffee and walks along the beach at sunset. As you might imagine, it’s just as good.

Entering Week 3, planning ahead has become essential. Have we lost this skill as a culture? When the dominant paradigm is reheated food served up in a few minutes and eaten in a car, it’s weird to think about making the bread dough now for the bread you’ll eat in two days. I find myself looped into other projects and other interests and playing catch up. Instead of nice slow-rise country-style bread it’s a dull textured loaf from the bread machine. But hey, at least we have flour to make bread.

I miss green food desperately. The kale’s been seeing us through, but we are big veggie eaters as a family and the garden is at it’s lowest point of productivity. Thankfully the spring crop of lettuces and the nettles are up, so the second half of the month should see a bump in vegetables. This is something to work on in my future food storage – more frozen greens for those hunger gap months.

Dining Out Without The Dining

I went out to a restaurant last Friday. It was a good friend’s birthday celebration and I wanted to participate. But I let the host of the party know that I was doing this wacky blog challenge and wouldn’t be eating or drinking. It was less awkward than you might think. The rest of the group enjoyed cocktails and appies and split some delicious smelling pan-Asian entrees. I had tap water and laughed and chatted with friends. It actually felt to me a bit like meals I’ve had in France, where the focus is more on the conversation and companionship and less on going heads-down over a plate-o-chow.

I had eaten a bit before I went, so hunger wasn’t an issue, and no one in the group seemed particularly put-out that I declined to join in the mastication. Fellow hospitality folks, don’t worry – even though I didn’t order anything I still tipped the waiter generously for the numerous water refills and the time I occupied a chair.

The challenge continues. So far, we haven’t given in and dialed for pizza. Here’s what we’ve been eating.

Breakfasts

The predictable collection of egg dishes, mostly. A bowl of oatmeal as I recall. I made granola bars with a new recipe but I wasn’t happy with the cake-like texture. The only thing worth taking a picture of was this rather lovely meal of whole grain pancakes topped with fruit from the freezer. Scrambled eggs rounded out the breakfast. I had forgotten that I still had frozen cherries – man those were a treat!

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Lunches

Lots of leftovers from dinners and leftovers turned into something else. A lentil side dish from last week became this lentil soup and honestly this was probably the most deeply satisfying food I ate all week. Leftover lentils, a chopped up onion, some stock and tomato…salt simmer and done. Served with a big slice of good crusty bread this made several lunches for me. The kids just ate bread. I maintain that they don’t know what they are missing when it comes to lentils.

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Because she is amazing and maybe because she could sense I needed a break, my daughter made dinner last night. She made Pasta with Tuna and Capers and Chocolate Chip Cookies. The leftovers were then used for her school lunch. As she put together her lunch, she was telling me that people think her lunches are weird sometimes.

“How so?” I asked.

“Well this one kid sometimes looks at my lunches and says, ‘Do you even buy anything?’ and I usually say, ‘No, not really’” explained my daughter.

I found this strange, since almost every item in the lunch my daughter was packing was – to my mind – a processed food. Store bought dry pasta, commercially canned tuna, jarred capers, cheese from the local cheeseshop, dried cranberries from a huge Costco bag that was on sale several months ago. The cookies were homemade of course, but from pre-processed ingredients: chocolate chips, milled flour, churned butter, baking powder, etc. I mean, of course we buy stuff – this lunch is made from nothing but bought stuff!

But apparently the lack of shiny, single-serving wrappers qualifies my daughter’s lunch as “nothing bought” and therefore weird.

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Dinners

Pizza night! I had some cooked crumbled garlic sausage and some mozzarella in the freezer. We turned them into ‘za.

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Salmon teriyaki and rice. With broccoli or green beans this is a very typical kid-friendly meal at my house. Can’t wait for green bean season!

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Elk flank steak (yeah, I know – I have some weird stuff in my freezer) with caramelized onions and blue cheese.

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Seared flap meat (my favorite budget cut – it’s like a more flavorful flank steak) with sprouted spelt berry risotto and kale with walnuts and lemon. That kale was so good: fast wilted in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a handful of chopped walnuts.

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I made some strawberry ice cream for dessert using my favorite easy ice cream trick (just use jam!). This batch was 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk and 1 half-pint of strawberry jam. It turned out wonderfully.

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How’s the Eat From The Larder Challenge going in your home? Are you feeling some of the same frustrations I am, or is it still smooth sailing?

Three Steps To Clean, Poop-Free Eggs
Tamarind Tequila Rita

Comments

  1. I have totally flunked out of this challenge! I had WAY less vegetables stored away than I thought, and church functions to cook for, and four kids who have all decided to have a growth spurt at the same time. Still doing my best though cooked up some moose and black bean empanadas Saturday, lentil “nuggets” and several other meals from the pantry throughout the week – but I also grabbed butter and cheese on sale, some fruit, a box of greens… Good on you for sticking to your guns. My grocery bill is significantly reduced, but I would need to be more prepared to go cold turkey.

  2. Just for clarification, not to say the challenge isn’t hard enough already, but are you buying inputs for your home foods? Straw for the chickens, chicken feed, any mulches or garden inputs, seeds, etc?

    • That’s a great question, I never really clarified and honestly didn’t really think about it. I am not buying anything food garden related, but that’s just because I have all I need. I was thinking about buying compost during the local compost sale that happens here in Seattle but I realized if I gave the chickens 6 weeks, they’d make $200 worth of compost for me out of $20 worth of straw, so I didn’t end up buying that. We are, as of today, out of chicken feed, so I will be buying some. I still have a bale of straw so I won’t need any this month but if I did need a bale I would buy it, or start calling around to tree cutters for free wood chips, which I can also use in the run. In a true job loss or protracted emergency situation, one of the last things I’d cut back on is the chickens. The major expenses (coop, fencing, etc.) are already spent, and the ability of the hens to turn scraps and waste into compost for the garden is a huge money saver for me. I hardly buy garden inputs except gypsum and lime – which are cheap – any more.

      • Anyway, as for me this month, it started out at a conference for work, and it really wasn’t realistic for me to bring food with me, so I was thinking of not doing the challenge at all. Especially since before I bought a car, for a few years I would average grocery shopping only every month and a half or so . Tough I did eat lunch out a couple times a week, all dinners and weekend meals and breakfasts and some lunches just went with bought (or foraged) foods.

        I do remember though, once winding down to empty cupboards, a meal made entirely of flour & water dough chunked & fried with a little salt. Not a bad *component* to a meal, but it was winter and I wasn’t going to be finding anything outside, and I was out of everything else.

        Another thing is I don’t really have such a deep freeze storage as you, I honestly don’t trust the freezer that much in this apartment and a few times a year eat to empty the fridge/freezer & just turn it off for a few days. Longest for that was a bit over a week, pretty sure I bought a couple lunches, but again, not even every lunch was bought. The thing I’m really fantastic at now is not letting any foods go bad, catching them before they go and fixing them up. I do have occasional failures, but food in my apartment as a general rule does not get tossed.

        Still, the point about hedonistic shift is true, and I have a car now, it’s sooo easy just to want to run down and buy some groceries every week, or eat out, and the point of challenges is not to rest on what you’ve already done but prove you can again. It just doesn’t sound particularly fun!

        • Hey,
          I’m intrigued by the way having a car effects how you shop. In my case, because I don’t have a car (but live in a very walkable area), I usually hit up a grocery store once a week or more often, in order to avoid having to haul too much heavy stuff at a time home over my 20 minute walk (or the 20 minute bus ride, as was the case in earlier non-car years).
          Having access to a car a couple of times per year means stocking up on 30 kilograms (uh… 60-70 lbs) of flour at a time plus as many other bulk purchases of dry goods as can fit in the trunk in order to not need to buy them all that frequently.

      • And happily, some of my most further along spring veggies are the “volunteers” that sprang up when I spread the spent chicken straw under the berry bushes a few weeks ago. I have nice lettuces, chard, and of course, more kale! How have I lived for so long without chickens? They’re the ultimate recyclers and produce perfect protein ta boot!

  3. Linda McHenry says:

    For Lent, a friend of mine, who is active in anti-poverty programs, is eating strictly on the food stamp allotment and buying at stores she can access by public transportation. It hasn’t been easy.

  4. Your freezer must be enormous. I have a “a pantry” where I keep foods I’ve pickled or prserved, and I usually have a bulk of rice or potatoes. But we routinely empty our freezer. Of course, I only go to the grocery store once or twice a month, since we get paid only twice a month.

  5. We are staying on track so far…and I’m waiting for my family to notice! I think this week will be the start of the “what the heck was I thinking”…but I’m remaining positive and trying to remain creative and will see how far we can go. I love this challenge – thanks so much for keeping us on track and pushing our limits!

  6. Rhapsody says:

    We kinda cheated a little when we went to visit a friend in the next state over. We ate out twice, but in restaurants that we love, that are half the reason we drive to see him instead of having him over. Also, we saw Captain America in his town’s IMAX, and had popcorn. Not sure if that whole trip counts, though, because we’d planned it (and saved money for it) for a couple months.

    My husband has been on board with this like never before, primarily because we found out two weeks ago that I’m carrying our first child (that’s still not “real” yet…) , so my normally spend thrift husband has gone all penny-pincher on me! Conversely, the amount of dinners we’ve eaten out has INCREASED, but we’ve paid for none of it because that’s how both our families celebrate things. I don’t know how to count that either. But I still haven’t spent anything at a grocery store.

  7. Just want you to know that as I read this I just kept thinking “She’s the best damn cook in the world”. You are totally amazing and an inspiration.

    • As I was looking at the dinners Erica (and her daughter) puts on her table I’m thinking, “That’s 5-star restaurant quality in my county.”

  8. We’ve been inspired to eat through the pantry and freezer, finally chipping away at the random boxes of specialty pasta I bought four years ago (gorgonzola ravioli and sun dried tomato macaroni pasta salad, yum!), dried beans, all the fish in the freezer, the jars of tomatoes, etc. While I have still been buying dairy and fresh fruit/veggies, it’s still eye-opening how little I have had to spend and how much food (or ingredients) I have on hand. I’ve also been following your stock up list, and adding something each week (five pounds sugar, two jugs olive oil, etc).

    I stopped relying on premade food those four years ago when I started to eat “clean” (and lost 120 lbs!) but some of it has definitely crept into the pantry. Using this opportunity to also purge that which does not fit my definition of “food!”

  9. Minor achievement last week related to the turkey we thawed and cooked. Had a couple turkey-based meals and then boiled down the carcass and extra meat for turkey / rice / veg soup. For all the times I’ve watched Julia Child make soup using bones, this was the first time I did this myself. I was shocked by how easy it is! I made enough for reheating a couple days last week, a 3-quart container for the freezer for later, and a half dozen meal-sized containers frozen for my lunches.

    I’m enjoying your updates. The elk steak and risotto & kale sides look especially amazing. Yes, during growth spurts kids can devour an astonishing amount of food. That can be tough to plan for even on a regular meal plan with the luxury of a carry-out option!

  10. Marian Peters says:

    Challenge is working for me, but I changed the rules substantially. Every meal has to substantially, but not wholly, come from the pantry (aka freezer — I have two small ones). So a company dinner was a turkey from the freezer that got smoked, plus a side of cranberries (more freezer goods) & vanilla (bean & sugar from the pantry) sauce, served with asparagus & potatoes from the grocery. A pork roast and applesauce from the freezer, and polenta from the pantry were matched with a salad of freshly bought apples and fennel for the family. A big batch of frozen turkey vegetable soup had been lingering in the freezer since the holidays. Great lunch! Every day for lunch or dinner or both something big comes out. It’s working for us and we’re beginning to see room in the freezer and cupboards.

  11. Alexandra says:

    This is continuing to inspire me! I was building a grocery list and this post came up and I thought about it and said we’d just make do. We have plenty in the house for now, just not all my favorites. An excellent practice!

  12. Love your post, Erica, and I feel for your daughter since my dad’s hobby was salmon fishing and we’d often get salmon salad sandwiches for lunches along with the weird looks from friends.

    We’re doing good on the food challenge. Lots of meat and fish in the freezer, and starches on the shelves, but we’ve had to get creative and thankful for the fruits and veggies. The last of the bananas are only black or frozen, so I’m looking forward to a green and fruit smoothie for lunch today. I pulled berries from the freezer, so it’s just a little changed up. Since we ate the last of the store bought carrots a week ago, I found one wayward carrot from last season in the raised bed, so the two of us divided that up for appetizer last night and it was so good and tender. Thanks to the artichoke plants we’ve had them every night for the past three days with no end in sight at this point. The only way that’s been manageable to me is to change up the dipping sauces and I’ve discovered a new favorite of olive oil, garlic salt and Italian spices.

    Without milk we’re relying on less cereal for breakfast, but we’ve often switched up that meal and rotated eggs and waffles, etc., so not too difficult to handle at this point. We’re very fortunate to have year-round kale and chard, and lettuce in the greenhouse. The peas are in flower now too, so realistically I don’t think this challenge is going to make much of a dent in my larder (lots of winter squash in the freezer and some still on shelf) so I’ve been thinking of continuing it on into May with added dairy and fruit. Haven’t discussed that with the hubs, yet…

  13. Love this challenge. I wanted to join whole heatedly, but with a lot of crazy medical stuff, and birthday’s this month we haven’t done as well as I would like. What I have done is started to eat out of our pantery more to get ready for canning season, so we are almost out of peaches, the pears and applesause my hubby said he would eat are now finally being eaten. I have learned we go through a lot of pinto and garanzo beans (love homemade hummas!)

  14. Love this challenge. I wanted to join whole heatedly, but with a lot of crazy medical stuff, and birthday’s this month we haven’t done as well as I would like. What I have done is started to eat out of our pantry more to get ready for canning season, so we are almost out of peaches, the pears and applesauce my hubby said he would eat are now finally being eaten. I have learned we go through a lot of pinto and garbanzo beans (love homemade hummus!) and I didn’t make nearly enough pickles and pasta sauce :) The hardest part is we go through a lot of eggs, milk, and I don’t make homemade bread (yet) so next year I think I will be able to tackle this a little more seriously, and I think I will have a better organized pantry for it! THANKS!

  15. The Eat from the Larder challenge has been tough! I’ve also felt the stress and frustration of having to prepare every single meal out of ingredients that I have on hand. My rules are more lax, though. Since I don’t have a garden yet, every week I buy a few veggies and fruit from the farmers market. But that’s it. Everything else is from the larder. Last week I made bread for the first time ever!

    I totally hear you on the planning skills! Part of the frustration is feeling hungry and wanting to eat RIGHT NOW but finding out that, like you said, there’s no food, just ingredients to make food, and…due to lack of planning, that it will take a while to make the food that could be made from those ingredients. That means I have to make a lot of snacking food today for when we get hungry tomorrow!

    This challenge has also taught me that
    1) most of the recipes I make involve butter, eggs, milk, cream, buttermilk… and I ran out of those after week 1, ( time to learn new recipes that don’t involve those ingredients!)
    2) I don’t have a very wide breakfast meals repertoire since we typically eat cereal, yogurt, scones, or scrambled eggs ( see #1),
    3) you start to treasure the ingredients you have on hand (like scraping the last bits of cream from the heavy cream carton whereas I used to throw away half full cartons because they went bad in the fridge; or only making recipes that use one egg instead of 5 eggs since I only have 5 eggs for the rest of the month).

    I went into this challenge thinking it’d be a fun kind of challenge, and it is fun, but it’s also quite difficult sometimes. I didn’t realize the emotional stress it could have on me. My fiance said that as long as I was cooking from the pantry/freezer, it’s ok to break the rules and eat out once in a while. So I have eaten out once in a while when I was just too tired to cook, and having that option has definitely helped keep the stress down.

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

    • Hey, Grace,

      A few years back I made a point of learning how to cook vegan food (or convert recipes to vegan ingredients) for the sake of Lesbian Pot Lucks. If you’re the kind of person who makes fruit butters or apple sauce – or who has canned pumpkin in the cupboard, or frozen peaches or strawberries on hand for smoothies (thaw the fruit and put it through the blender/food-processor to make a sauce) – you can use those things in place of the binding power of eggs in (typically sweet) baked goods. Nut and seed butters can do the same thing. You still need to basically double the levening agent (so a tablespoon of baking powder rather than 1-2 tsp, for example) but it usually works.
      Not sure what to do for things like quiches and stratas as far as the eggs go, but for waffles or pancakes or quick breads or cakes they’ll do the trick and give you moist and velvety results to boot.

      I’m glad to hear you’re not throwing away half-full cartons of dairy these days – even though I get that it’s a little worrying to smell it and go “Shoot, now what do I do… Is this actually still safe to use?”
      That sour milk can go a long way if you want to slow-roast (braise?) a chicken or make a double-batch of muffins (best way to use up extra jam in my ice-cream-maker-devoid world: Sub it out for the sugar you’d use in a baked good) to keep in your freezer for speedy breakfasts… Maybe that’s what I should make next…

      • Oh! Oh! Another story from my vegan childhood! Mix a little flour and a little cinnamon powder, and water for a very thin gruel. Soak a piece of bread in it and fry.

        Tastes JUST like french toast it is AMAZING and does not require the egg. Does require real maple syrup in my house though :)

    • I like having stuff like oatmeal around, and dried fruits and nuts. They aren’t typically my go to snack, but they are *filling* and *nutritious* and with a microwave (or if you just want to eat oats and water, which is perfectly fine) you can have them *right now.*

      I know I might not like the taste or be in the mood for it but if I must have an influx of calories, I DO have an option.

      As for milk, I grew up vegan for many years, there are vacuum sealed versions of soymilk, or powder if you want, and I always have on hand some cartons of soymilk for when I want a bit of comfort-food-from-the-past. I can also use instead of fresh milk if I’ve run out of that.

      I’m not really doing the challenge this month per se, though, but I am trying to eat down into my freezer and dried goods to cycle them.

  16. With you on the frozen greens. My go-to meal on a busy night is pasta + fresh or frozen leafy greens (or broccoli) + sausage or tinned tuna + tinned tomatoes or a jar (I know, I know, it’s stupid-easy to make) of alfredo sauce. I’m half way through my last bag of frozen broccoli (though I’ve still got a few pucks of home-frozen chard hidden away) along with my last four eggs, and I’m feeling Nervous.

    Your picture of the sobbing woman who has only a bunch of ingredients to make food? I am far too familiar with that feeling. I’m lucky. It’s just my wife and me here, so I didn’t have to contend with March Break, but every time I use up an item of Easy Food, I wonder what the last week of April is going to look like.
    I’ve never made crackers in my life, and I’m not actually planning on starting at this point. But I’m interested in trying to do cornmeal crepes (in lieu of soft taco shells or pita bread) and doing some kind of fish taco thing with shredded daikon and tomato-peach salsa – provided I have any salsa left, that is. O.O (Uh… failing that, maybe I can do tinned tomatoes + frozen peaches + half of our second-last onion + red chili flakes and some cilantro if I’ve got any left?)

    This past week, the big hits were:
    (1) Quick and Dirty Beans Mole (white kidney beans, tinned tomatoes, diced green onions, minced garlic, nutritional yeast, chili, cumin, cocoa, basil, black pepper and salt – bless the spice rack, I tell you what) done in bacon-drippings (that was a help) and served over mixed brown and red rice
    AND
    (2) multigrain pancakes made with whole cooked millet + TWO jars of jam (one strawberry-rhubarb, and one apple butter). You can guess why that one was such a hit.

    I’ve been trying to make my bread using less yeast per batch, since we’re getting a little bit low and I’d *like* to not re-stock until May 1st without also having to resort to soda biscuits for sandwiches. That being said, I’m glad to be using up the rice. I get hte feeling that it has started to go rancid – smells kind of greasy, but isn’t bad yet, y’know? – and it’ll be good to have that gone through so that I can re-stock on fresher stuff (in smaller amounts) come May. We still have cheese (hurrah!) and a bulb and a half of garlic, and I’ve got plenty of bones and so-on to make more stock. So I predict at least one batch of red lentil stew featuring bone-stock, a little lard, and a lot of dried mushrooms, dried toamtoes, and dried ancho chilis. Coconut milk and/or kombu may or may not be a significant feature as well…

    If this is the half-way (ish) point, I feel a bit like it’s time to take All The Things out of the freezer and sort out what I’ve really got to work with.

  17. You know what, the heck with this. Can I just eat at your house?
    Fail. Massive fail. But…
    I planted much more in my garden, raised beds, containers, and earth berms than I ever have in the past. (I hear ya Grace… too tired to cook!!!) and I’ll be hitting the farmers markets and orchards hard this year to put up for some other Challenge that I took on without thinking it through first. It’s still fun though and even though there are a few days left in the month, we’ll keep trying.

  18. michelle priddy says:

    This week my garlic started to sprout- so I’m doing my first lacto fermentation with garlic. I don’t know what I am doing- which is why you won’t see mention of this on my facebook page- and from what I understand, it won’t be ready for many months, so I’ll just plug and chug, (like a tug boat) to preserve the high quality nutrition of the garlic for a later date down the road.

    We are going to try the spag. recipe Greg shared with us on Thursday- We’ve been eating casseroles, stews and beans. Not doing to badly- My problem is that I eat out of the larder so much that I only purchase dairy & perishables. I usually plan two weeks out, so I’m sure by this time next week I’ll have to head to the store. The quart bags of frozen milk are almost used ups.

    Yes, I freeze milk. Our family can not use up a whole gallon before it sours. We used to eat alot of sour milk pancakes, but that gets old. So now, when I buy a gallon of milk, I pour a quart into a plastic freezer bag, put it in the freezer and we use it up for cooking, puddings, that type of stuff. And I do have back up cans of evaporated milk just incase Handsome and the kids use up all the milk and I don’t have time to thaw milk if it is needed.

    For us, this is mostly how we live. Our daughter started taking lunches this year- we sprang to buy hot lunch for two years for the sake of her self esteam, but now? She makes her own lunch and I give her a portion of the ‘saved’ money we would have spent on her hot lunch. She takes the strangest stuff- the shepherds pie she made over the week end went in last night for today’s lunch. I get the impression she brags about the food she ‘makes’ and comes out smelling like a rose!

    • michelle priddy says:

      We are not doing badly at this, with the exception of Handsome’s tea… however I’m going to have to hit the grocery store sometime this week because he will be out of his ‘green things’ I think they are called plackers (fancy teeth flossers thingies) before next Monday. I looked on our running grocery list. Mayo, tortillas & TP are on it as well- I can make mayo out of an egg and some oil, but it costs just as much as the store bought & takes more input, so there is no incentive. I have the stuff for tortillas & save 1/2 the cost so I’ll probably get busy on those. (Plus I found a recipe for Mu Shu pancakes- boiling water and flour, even less expensive- I’d like to try on my family as a tortilla exchange) But there just isn’t any substitute for TP.

  19. There’s no green veg left in the larder, and there never were any veggies in the freezer. The rest of the family has revolted and insisted that we must have veg. So I gave into that, so that we can continue clearing the pantry and eat all the pasta shapes and sheets and noodles. And the miscellaneous tins of fish bought for fast lunches.
    The next crisis point will be when the oil runs out, as the olive oil is dangerously low, which means changing cooking methods, and conserving oil by not dressing the salad, foraged (or store bought.)
    Foraged veg seem to be nettles or garlic mustard leaves, we’re still waiting for lime leaves and rosebay willow herb shoots to get big enough to eat. I’m sorry but I’m not eating nettles more than once a week, no matter how low my iron levels. And the lettuces on the window sill will yield a few leaves per day, but there aren’t many calories in each leaf.
    It’s funny how cooking when hungry alerts my perspective, and although there’s bread and preserve to serve as a snack, I can’t quite feel that it replaces the cakes I haven’t got round to making, or more to the point the cakes I would have bought. I’m one of these people who eats loads often, having a fast metabolism and get jittery without a few emergency snacks around. I did know this, it’s now being reinforced, so I’d better review the options soon.
    Still doing a good job of clearing the freezer bit by bit, and feeling good about having the space to add newly baked bread. The bread skills are coming on really well, and making a double batch was a big bonus.
    Now, how to use the yoguort starter kit found at the back of the larder to make home brewed yog is the next question? And will it replace oil in a salad dressing?

    • Jenny, I think that if you’ve got kids that are staging a revolution so that they can have MORE VEG, you may have lost the challenge, but you have won at life. Big time.

      • Thank you Erica, I’ll go with that!
        It tells me I need to know more about preserving the autumnal glut of food to get a balance. And maybe that means learning how to grow it. So thank you for major encouragement to get started. One raised bed this year, then next year we might try and negotiate some space in next doors underused garden….

  20. Inventoried the mason jars to get some ideas. Need to make cornbread with the corn salsa.

    Biggest scores: winter squash pancakes with frozen blackberries and two year old canned blackberry syrup that needs to go. Last summer’s pesto in rice with DH’s smoked pork loin.

    Biggest loser: last year’s roasted green cherry toms I canned. They were going to be the sauce for the pork. Instead we used a half bottle of Utah made blackberry wine. Worked, but it was a sacrifice on the wine.

  21. We have lots of space in the freezers now and have cleaned up from the cupboards too. It’s a great way to use up or throw out old stuff, for sure. I feel really good about it and I’m grateful for the idea to do it. We have eaten out a couple times, but not too much. This challenge is making me realize I need to make some changes to how I store food – not liking the frozen zucchini, and I need to pick the green beans at a much younger state. It sure makes me appreciate my garden more too – we have snow peas in the garden and I’ve never felt so lucky to have the sweet, crunchy, juicy little beauties. I’ve even put some in the freezer. Good thing we’re doing this challenge now because here it starts from the garden already! It comes on pretty fast. It is weird not to be having eggs and toast for breakfast every day. We don’t have chickens so we don’t have eggs. I only had 5 when I started this challenge, and they are GONE. We resorted to using up an old box of soymilk and the steel cut oats in the back of the cupboard, which is all very healthy I’m sure but I’m still not sure what to do with all those pickles that are toooo vinegary. I also had a bunch of celery in the garden so made a cream of celery kale soup with some cream that was left from my folks’ visit. The chicken broth is all gone, but it turned out fine. Fortunately we had a lot of black beans, so we’ve had lots of beans with frozen spinach and spices in it on tortillas with cheese. I can’t believe it but I just found two packs of sliced pepper jack cheese in the garage fridge. How did those get there and thank the Goddesses!!! My mother in law is coming Easter weekend, so I’ll have to go off the challenge then – we started in March tho’ so we’ve done pretty well. Thanks for such good idea and for sticking to it so well. You’re our hero!

    • Hey. Re: vinegary pickles. Can you take a couple and dice them into something bigger – like a potato salad or a mess of roasted beets or the spread for a batch of tuna sandwiches? I haven’t tried this myself (I think it may be clinically impossible to make things too vinegary for me… I’ll just about drink balsamic from a glass, not that my teeth would thank me if I did) but it might work out and dilute the vinegariness from “ye gods, ow” to “pleasantly piquant”. Woth a try, maybe?

      • I seem to remember a friend washing her pickles before using them so that the whole family found them more easy to eat?

  22. Failed already- although I am begging for forgiveness on the grounds of kids- a one and two year old running me around constantly and a third on the way making me too sick and tired to do much!
    Gosh it is a hard challenge especially with kids. I could cope with the main meals (honestly we probably have a month of ready meals in the freezer) but its all the bread and snacks required to keep little people happy. So kind of doing the challenge in reverse, working on filling the freezer with snacks and meals so when I go back to work in a fortnight we have plenty of food ready without having to buy convenience foods
    It is also making me more conscientious about what I store. Made about twenty kilos of eggplants into a yummy sauce (with tomatoes wine garlic) and will make myself do another batch this week instead of just leaving them for the chooks. Zucchini also being diligently stored as pickles or frozen, as are the tomatoes however sick of them I am.
    Have been making most meals from freezer/pantry and where I cheated and bought a BBQ chook I made four meals from it.
    My hardest thing is sandwich bread. I love making no knead bread but it’s too crusty for sandwiches especially for the toddler. Just one of the many things I have realised I have to learn how to make before I can do this challenge properly.
    Will keep fumbling along but think it might be a case of building up to full commitment

    • Hey, Emma.
      I make no (or, well, “low”) kneed bread, too. I find that if I kind of baste the tops of the loaves with a little bit of butter as soon as they come out of the oven, and then either stick them in their bread bag or keep them in their tins but wrapped in a towel, and leave them there overnight, the crust is pretty good for sandwiches. Much easier to cut through, certainly, but without the squashiness (is that a word? Let’s say it’s a word) of bread that has a softer crust.
      Maybe that could work for you?

  23. Our biggest challenge is finding local, organic protein to put into our freezer. It’s a hard business, so the suppliers we find often stop production in favor or a new business model. Can you suggest local sources (preferably accessible, in the best of worlds semi affordable) that sell beef, chicken, lamb, and fish to Joe blow consumers?

  24. michelle priddy says:

    Anyone know if corn and milk are supplementary proteins? I’m working on a dish to serve our food box clients- want to use corn meal and evaporated milk- possible staples for our food box distribution.

  25. In my case, epic fail. I finally threw in the towel in a moment of weakness, when my husband offered to pick up dinner at the end of an 11-hour workday of pure craziness. I was too tired to even reheat leftovers. But I learned some things. I did more meal planning than usual, paying attention to using up things on hand. I know now I should have more vegetables on hand. And it does (usually) pay off to cook 2 or 3 entrees on the weekend so I don’t have to cook after work.

  26. I totally understand what you mean about the packaged lunches. So many food bloggers talk about not buying packaged foods, but then cook pastas and buy canned chickpeas, etc. Those things all come in packages! Even if I had my dream garden, I wouldn’t be able to feed myself without buying things from the store: how would I process grains? no rice or oatmeal? I could get by for a bit, but not very long. Scary that that’s the way of life these days.

  27. michelle priddy says:

    I’m officially out of the larder challenge. Went shopping last week, picked up the plackers, a gallon of milk, a brick of cheese, TP and some mayo.

    Thank you Greg for the spaghetti recipe. I got nixed on the salami so I used the pepperoni sticks. In size, I used the equivalent of two of the long single type that can be bought at the grocery store in a sauce for the four of us. With the seasonings and the 100 % beef, my family was satisfied with the flavor. (Being carnivores, meat flavor is a big deal in this house hold, even as I try to stretch the budget with meat free dishes.)

    So thank you for the insights.

  28. This is precisely why I didn’t sign up for this challenge. I work, have two kids, volunteer and am training for a triathlon right now. We also had houseguest for 10 days in early April. While feeding people is one of my responsibilities, I just couldn’t commit to the level of focus, planning and ingenuity that the challenge requires right now. I have, however, been trying to clean out the freezer and pantry, using up home-canned items and older frozen meats. I would love to try again when life is not so busy. I know I could do it if needed, and am thankful that it’s not needed right now. And if it were needed, now I also have an excellent resource, so thank you for that.

  29. Me being old and living alone, this challenge is a piece of cake. On any given month, I don’t travel to the grocery store. When the last winter storm was coming in, my daughter called and told me to get to the store. I saw no need.
    You did suck me in with the Ice cream recipe made with jam. I couldn’t find all the parts for my old freezer, so it has taken this long to serf the net to find what I wanted, at the best price. It came in a few days ago, so I made my first, easy peasy batch of ice cream. It was so wonderful. Mine froze up so firm in the machine. What I really enjoyed is that making that small amount, I had enough ice in the ice maker to make the whole recipe without having to buy ice. My stockpile of Gossner’s milk and sweet cream is approaching it’s printed ‘ use by’ date, so I know I will be gaining a few pounds with all this sweet cream to make this wonderful ice cream.

  30. Terri in Tulsa says:

    So sorry I missed out on this, but just in the reading it has changed the way I will look at the panty forever. Looking forward to reading everyone’s post challenge thoughts! (I’d bet money that I know a couple of self proclaimed “survivalists” who have never tried it.) P.S. Erica, know it’s different for kids, but the hubby always takes dinner leftovers to work. Never thought of myself as an incredible cook until co-workers told me how jealous they get when they smell the lunch time microwave reheat.

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