Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summer 2009 Pantry/Freezer Challenge

With the newest addition to the family (it's a little weird saying that and not referring to a cat) and the fact that I didn't request any summer teaching and Josh is down to one paying job, I have been trying to think of ways to save money instead of writing my dissertation. And while I haven't yet bothered to sit down and actually figure out where we spend our money and come up with a budget based on that (numbers...yuck!), I do know that our biggest expense other than rent is food. The evidence of overspending on food is plain to see in our overfilled foodstuff coffers. We have 3 cupboards in the house full of dry goods, more dry goods in the walk in pantry out in the garage, and not one but two freezers full of food. When I find a shirt or pair of pants I like, I but one in every color; when I find food I like, I buy it at Costco. Add to that my general lack of organization and I tend to buy things like a 6 pound bag of dried pinto beans when we have at least 4 pounds stuck behind the jug of olive oil in the cupboard. Who needs 10 pounds of pinto beans?

Needless to say, a pantry challenge is in order. But, since it's also the height of farmer's market season, I've decided to give myself a budget of $20 a week for things like fresh produce and staples that run out during the course of the challenge--probably spices and the like. Since I recently found myself in the possession of a $100 bill, the initial length of the challenge will be 5 weeks and then I'll reassess. I honestly think we have enough food to get us through to the end of the year doing this, but I'm starting small.

Summer 2009 Pantry Challenge
Start: 05 July 2009
End:08 August 2009
Goals: Clean out the pantry and freezer, better organize foodstuffs, replace old stuff like waaaaay out of date spices, spend $20 or less on food weekly, lose 5 pounds (okay, so now I'm aiming high)
The first step was using some of those damn beans. We also happened to have a deluge of squash taking over our kitchen. On Saturday we got to the farmer's market late and got a fill your bag for $10 deal. I see squash and visions of calabacitas dance in my head. So, last night we had refried beans, fresh salsa, and calabacitas wraps. This is, undoubtedly, one of my all-time, top-five favorite meals and a good way to start this challenge.


Jen said...

i love freezer and pantry purge meals. vegannifer used to keep a blog, but now she doesn't but has a TON of ideas.

your bebeh is hella cute, btw.

ps: shameless plug- for bean ideas, may i suggest my toot-toot train to stinkytown beans?

Ondine said...

Do you like refried beans?

Moosewood's recipe is great and easy. Cook your beans, then cook some onion and garlic in oil, add beans, smash with a potato masher (add water or broth as needed to thin it out to your taste) and season if you like with salt, chile powder, cumin, and lime juice.

Super easy and great as a base for tostadas or enchiladas.

I always make a ton of chili if I have beans and any tomatoes around. Put cooked beans, tomatoes, chile powder, and other seasonings as you like in a slow cooker or in a pot and cook until it's the texture you like. I often add sweet potatoes to a black bean chili--it's awesome ;)