Monday, April 15, 2013

Pantry Challenge for Youth Retreat

This past month, we have been eating down our freezer, fridge and pantry instead of grocery shopping so that we could use the month to send our daughter to Youth Retreat, which was this past weekend.

For four weeks, I spent less than 1/4th of our normal grocery budget.

We ate a lot of beans and rice, folks.  A lot.  Beans and rice with salad, tostadas, bean enchiladas, black bean tacos...

But, really, it's been a good thing as it's forced us to eat up some food that's been languishing in the freezer and pantry for far too long, passed over for something maybe a little more simple to prepare or appealing.  (Thanks, Mom, for buying too many ribs at Christmas time.  And, thanks, Dad for the sirloin steak you gave us for Christmas.  We ate them up with month.)

It's also made me remember how important it is to not waste food!  I *try* to chop up any extra veggies and get them into the freezer before they go bad.  I get lazy about this more often than not.  But it was so nice to be able to pull a bag of carrots out of the freezer today so that I could use them in our Rice and Veggie Stirfry side dish.  We are getting low on options, so I was feeling a little desperate before I remembered these carrots.

Another thing is freezing meat!  Even less than a cup of cooked beef or chicken can become a whole meal when made into a casserole or soup.  My family loves spaghetti with meat sauce, and 1/2 lb of ground beef can make the whole meal!  Just a little bit of chopped up ham can spice up boring scrambled eggs.

And when you don't have meat and it's bean and rice night, my two tips: 

1.  Green onions!  I always make a salad to go with our beans and rice, and we've found that adding green onions to the salad gives it that little pop of flavor. 

2.  Homemade tortillas!  I don't make these too often, but they are delicious alone and can take the place of chips at snack time, and they add comfort to dinner time.  These are definitely a learned art; they don't seem nearly as impossible now as when I first started making them.  The KitchenAid mixer helps a lot.

One final thing is that this pantry challenge has reminded me of how very blessed we are.  If necessary, we could go for a least two more weeks without being all that uncomfortable, just not much options.  Longer than that before we would starve.  I didn't do any big stock up to get most of the food that we have, either.  It's just odds and ends left over from my bi-weekly shopping trips.  We live in a land of plenty, and I am so thankful.

And now that grocery ads are here, payday comes this week, and I'm gonna go see what I can restock with!

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