I wanted to know what I had on hand and what I needed to get from the co-op during the 5% off bulk sale this week (that means stuff from bulk bins was 5% off), and at the last farmer's market. A well stocked pantry is frugal, especially if you get much of it on sale. 5% isn't much, but why not take advantage?
I also thought it would be fun to see what I had and share the pantry with y'all. I'm not sure who reads. I think most folks are cooks so have a stocked pantry and I'm hoping you'll be willing to comment and share so I know how far I've strayed from "normal" (not that I ever was...I was making my own sourdough bread as a college undergrad while still having diet coke and ho-hos for breakfast and was once so broke that the "pantry" consisted of a bag of sugar, a bag of rice, and some cocoa...you can live on sweet cocoa rice for about a week...it's pretty good!)
I decided to be honest so I included food that's gone off and needs to go ... I will chuck it but if I started doing that while doing the inventory, I'd never get done with the inventory. First I'd chuck the food, then start re-organizing and then something else would occur to me and I'd never get back to inventorying. So rest assured that I'm not eating 3 year old grape leather in a punctured plastic bag (even though it smells delicious!)...into the composter it goes.
The GOOD news:
1) I have a buttload of food and could happily --well 'healthily' anyway-- live for MONTHS without buying anything.
2) I have a good variety of food so I won't get scurvy
3) I have plenty plenty plenty of protein (and this is before the fridge-freezer inventory)
4) I did a great job stocking up on local products to get me through the winter
The less good news (trying to be non-judgemental):
1) It's not organized well.
This is not a surprise to anyone who knows me. I just heard the phrase "put like with like" as a way of organizing (yes...it was on one of those hoarder shows I saw while at a hotel) and honestly, that had not occurred to me in a serious way, or at least had not stuck. I know to do it with receipts and tax stuff, but it hadn't occurred to me to try it with everything. Anyway, that's on the to-do list now for my pantry: organize by putting like with like (and then I'll keep one bit of each in the active cooking cupboard and kitchen shelf unit).
So, there are many places where I keep food. The kitchen is not exactly palatial and the cupboard space is made for someone who keeps bags of pasta sauce, a few cans of sauce or whatever, and maybe a handful of pans. Not much storage. I've supplemented with a shelving unit for food and a few plants called "blue shelves"...these were bought at a thrift store for 6$ a few years ago. They were already blue. Then there are 2 more shelves for cookware and dishes and whatnot. And a few milk crates for more pans that won't fit in the cupboards or on the other shelves.
Anyway, here goes:
pkg = package
pt = pint jar (ball or kerr usually)
qt = quart jar (ball or kerr usually)
large jar = a really BIG antique jar, like 1/2-1.5 gallons
med jar = smaller than a BIG jar, but bigger than a small jar
small jar = roughly a quart, but not a quart jar
note: all beans are dry and the majority of things are bought from the bulk bins so beans/lentils/peas/etc are dry, not canned. These will yield 2-4 times as much once soaked/cooked. In fact lentils just keep growing! Every time you reheat some lentil soup you add a bit of water and the lentils soak it up. I'm pretty sure it can become a perpetual pot of soup if you don't just break down one day and eat the whole pot at once.
The top of the unit is plants (including 2 carrot tops I cut off to grow more carrot greens...not a success yet, but hope springs eternal)
-1/2 pkg seaweed wraps for sushi/sashimi/california rolls
-1/2 pkg kombu (different seaweed...a bit in a pot of beans makes them slightly less farty and adds what looks like a giant slug of green goosh)
-1 bottle, unopened, raspberry vinegar
-1/2 pt Raspberry jam from 2008 by M&E
-1 pt smashed plum g00sh 2008 from A&Y
-bit of sea salt
-bit of brown rice vinegar
-2 jars chicken broth powder
-1 jar vegetable broth powder
-1 small tin wasabi powder
-bit of cocoa
-salt and pepper shakers (Mount St. Helens set...awesome) with bit of pepper in there
-1 empty tin from crystallized ginger
-1 ginger tin with 3T corn meal
-sample of anti-gas supplement
-sample of Rhodida Ros.
-sample of chia fiber mix for smoothies
-3/4 pint almonds
-1/2 C popcorn kernels
-1lb bag coffee beans (organic, shade grown, free trade, dark roast...delicious)
-empty tea tin
-sample skin moisturizer
-1 box apple cinnamon tea bags
-1 tin gun powder tea (about 1.5 cups)
-few bags of lemon zinger tea
-1 tea bag of black tea.
2nd shelf down
-1 new and 1 old pkg crystallized ginger
-1 qt cocoa
-about 1.5 quarts nutritional yeast in a used rice protein powder jar.
-2 round cartons table salt
-3 and 1/4 2lb packages rock salt (for the sidewalk, but it is a foodstuff too)
-1pkg egg replacer
-1/2 bag wheat berries, about 2.5 lbs
-1 qt canola oil
-1 qt olive oil (extra virgin but I don't think it's organic)
-1/2 c flax seeds
small bags of the following:
-cloves--2 bags of these
-coarse sea salt
-herbs de provence
-bit of teecino (coffee replacement product) in a tin (this has now been consumed...frees up a tin)
-2 qt sweet cherries in light syrup, 2007 canned by me
-1 pt pears, A&Y
-1 pt black beans
-1c soy protein powder
-1c lecithin (but I think it's gone off...must chuck that)
-4c brown rice
-5 qt honey (local! bought in large bucket noted below and repackaged some into quart jars for -easier use)
-3 tricycle maintenance items ... non toxic and clean but probably not categorized well
Under the Kitchen table:
-2g honey (1/2 full 4gal bucket, some has been decanted into the qts noted above)
-small tub of home-mi hamster food
-12.3lb butternut squash (yes 12 and one third POUNDs and it's one squash)
On Kitchen table:
-Medium hubbard squash (a "medium" hubbard squash is bigger than my head)
-3.25 heads garlic
In hanging vegetable basket (those wire tiered numbers you hang from the ceiling)
-4 cloves garlic
-1 hand of aging ginger (ooo...that would go well with some squash...)
Counter by the sink:
-2 qt home-brewing apple vinegar
-12 small hot peppers
Country by the fridge:
-1/2c olive oil
-1 pt popcorn kernels
-2.3 qt dried apples
-2c dried pears
-1/2 pt strawberry jam, mine, 2007
-1 pt dried carrots
-1 tsp agave syrup (the bottle is draining upside down)
-Big jar whole wheat flour
-4 little tins of tea from London.
Stacked in jars in boxes by shelves holding pots/pans/radio
-4 qt dried tomatoes
-1 pt dried tomatoes
-1 pt tomato dust (I cored tomatoes, cut out blemishes (there were VERY few), chunked them up, threw them in the blender, and pureed them. Then poured into the "fruit leather" trays in the dehydrator and dried them down to brittle. I put it in jars and crunched it into dust. The theory is that I can use this to make tomato sauce...it worked once!)
-1/2c dried onion
-1.5 pt dried plum leather
-2 pt dry plums
-1.75 pt dry peppers
-3 pts dry onion
-1/2 pt dry ancho chilis
-10.5 1/2 pt dry peppers, various kinds, mostly as sweet, medium or hot mixes
In the antique rice tin of spices and mixes:
-1 fiesta dip mix
-3 guacamole dip mix
-1 pueblo chicken rub
-1 lg bag chimayo powder
-1 mole mix (ooo...mole! My favorite mexican chocolate chili chicken treatment)
-1 bag of something labeled "Hot" (this was a gift and arrived that way...looks like oregano but then the "hot" doesn't make sense)
-1 "scorcher" salsa mix (I mixed up the other one and "scorcher is putting it mildly)
-1 med red chilis
-1 fajita marinade
-3 fajita mix
-1 small chili pepper
Dining room floor (in boxes, not just strewn about...things get tough during canning season and I actually have to clean the floors so I can store stuff in boxes! Jeez...I would kill for a root cellar)
-12 1/2pt plum jam, various mixes but all freestone/sweet plums and made with honey rather than sugar
-6 1/2 pt plum essence (I started with about 16 cups of plum puree, skins and all, and cooked it down to about 6 cups...mixed in a bit of lime juice for acidity for canning and that's it)
-2 pt pickled plums...from a few years ago and they are CRAP...must throw these out in the compost once rinsed
-7 1/2 pt 2008 cherry jam, sweet cherries from S&J.
-12 1/2 pt 2009 sour plum jam (I'll be keeping Diana on a slow drip of this as she claims she's become dependent on the sour plum jam and there were no sour plums available to me this year)
Cupboard by fridge (this is what I think of as the main "food" cupboard but I may have to rethink after this inventory)
Top shelf, from stoveward side to fridgeward side:
-1 big jar whole wheat flour (local, not organic but low till)
-1 big jar white high gluten flour (local, not organic but low till)
-1 c dry goji berries
-2 c raisins (thompson)
-2 c wheat bran
-1/2 tin baking powder
-3/4 pt rye berries
-1 c garbanzos
-1.5 c nutritional yeast
-1 c honey
-1.5 c high gluten flour (because it didn't all fit in the big jar)
-1 qt rye flour
-1 big jar (yes, another) whole wheat flour
-1 qt pumpernickel rye flour
-1 big jar rolled oats
-1 med/big jar black beans
-2 c black beans
-small jar split peas (I just wanted a few to try. I've never like pea soup but I've only had canned -so maybe dry peas are better...they are super cheap)
-small jar walnuts...out of shell
Bottom shelf (there's only the two...total length under 3 feet each and structurally unsound)
-bit of corn starch in a box
-1 tin corn starch
-zip lock back of grape leather from god knows when!
-brown rice vinegar
-2 c popcorn kernel
-1 qt apple cider vinegar (raw, unfiltered from bulk bins)
-1/2 c barley
-3 baking cups (like for cupcakes)
-3/4 c molasses
-1 bg jar turbinato sugar (I tried to quit buying sugar and just use honey...so this might be the last of the sugar for a long long time)
-1 tin baking powder
-1 c cous cous
-2 c cashews
-1/2 c sesame seed
-handful of almonds and craisins in a baggie
-1/2 dried tomatoes (not from this year...hmmm)
-2 c white rice
-1 qt jar of assorted pepper seeds (this should be with gardening stuff)
-1 c baking soda
-small shaker of table salt
-med jar oats
-1 qt oats
-3/4 c sea salt
-2 c corn meal
-2T toasted sesame oil
-bit of stevia
-1 pkg stevia
-1 c dried corn---couple of years old but this stuff lasts many years, it's one reason people got into growing corn (or any grain)
-1 c dried apples from 2009, questionable
-vitamin B supplement
-bit of cocoa
-2T black tea
small spice jars of:
-red chili flakes
-unknown yellow powder...no odor left, time to chuck it.
Spices on rack over stove (I KNOW that's not the best place to store them but I go through them fast enough that they keep fine)
-kelp powder (that's the third kind of seaweed...jeez)
-lecithin (gone off)
-bit of honey
-bit of paprika
-bit of cayenne
-spike (this is "Mrs. Dash" found in the bulk section...I tried it, it's not great)
-mustard (the dry powder...not just a yellow squarty thing of mustard)
-something that may or may not be chili powder...I write the names on the jars as I refill them and then the names rub off as I use them. Some are easy to ID like salt and rosemary, others are tougher.
Spices on the fridge (I got magnetic spice tins with windows on them at World Market..I LOVE them...you can see when you run out...but again with the rub-off naming system)
-granulated garlic (this keeps better in a jar and will need to switch back)
-small pepper grinder (magnetic...there used to be a salt grinder on there too but it fell and busted)
on top of fridge:
-large pepper grinder (2$ at thrift) with multi-color gourmet pepper corn mix in it. Yummy AND pretty.
Bedroom closet (there is a file box in there with jarred goods)
-1 qt cherry leather 2007
-1 pt dried cherries 2007
-1/4c tomatoes...not this year
-1/2 pt dry celery
-1 pt dry celery leaves
Under the bed (in jars in a box...not just spread around like a compost heap!)
-1 small/med plastic jar with assorted bags of dry peppers, not this year but I dried them until they were brittle (maybe 5% moisture) so they are still good
-1 pt tomato dust (see above for explanation)
-5 1/2pt dried peppers, 2010 vintage
-1/2 pt mixed tomato and hot pepper dust (this is supposed to be instant arabiata sauce)
-3.5 qt dry tomato
-1 c dry red onion from the garden, 2009
-2 1/2pt dry tomato
Tea Bin (this is a very large tupperware type thingy with dried herbs for making tea)
bags of the following (the bags are about "sandwich" size). The Tea Bin needs a home.
-valerian (two partial bags)
-slippery elm bark
(man...I could use some little jars for these but all the jars are full of jam and dried veg)
This is a lot of food! I do like soups and chili from the dried beans, peppers and other veg.
I do wish I had some more apples, some canned apple sauce, and some dried potatoes. If there is a cheap bin at the co-op I'll get that.
This does not include the food in the fridge. That's another blog (partly because the fridge needs cleaned out...the soup bucket in the freezer has cut down on waste but a bag of greens and a bowl of rice and a few other things slipped by me)
Just with this, no fridge stuff, I could eat and be healthy easily through to February probably. That 12+ pound squash alone is a week's worth of soup. I'd be sick of it when I was done, but still. The plan for that is to roast some, soup some, eat for a few days and freeze the rest in 1-2 serving portions. I wonder if you can dry winter squash?
I used this to inform a trip to the co-op today for the last shot at the bulk sale. I can see that eating just this will make me want something "fresh" during the winter. Soup from dried veg and beans and so on is delicious, but sometimes you want fresh food. So I got seeds to sprout. Alfalfa, clover, broccoli, and radish. About 1/2 cup will make plenty of sprouts for a couple of months. I have 2 sprouting systems and will try to focus on eating them regularly.
I may also try to plant a bit of lettuce or greens under glass outside or in the window inside. The kale is soldiering on in the cold weather so who knows...a cold frame could grow kale all winter (if only I weren't so lazy).
Maybe a couple of pots of fresh herbs too. Of course I'll buy some fruit and veg in the winter but it's hard to get local stuff in winter.
I'm pleased to see I have some variety in jams due to back stock of older jars. These are NOT rusted, damaged, discolored or anything that would indicate a problem. Obviously I'll smell them before I open and other than supplying Diana with the sour plum from 2009, I don't give away old jam. It's one thing to accidentally poison me, but another to poison someone else.
If I keep making bread and things, I'll also need more flour but I didn't want to buy more than this for now. It can go buggy.
One reason for the rye flours is that my sourdough starter likes a variety of whole grain flours as food. If you feed one kind exclusively you lose the variety of yeasts in the starter and the flavor is less interesting and the leavening action less vigorous. And this starter is vigorous! I got it from the bread guy and it keeps growing when I put it in the fridge to "rest" it. It grew when the house was 45degrees. Even raised bread. The bread is much lighter than with my previous (and now deceased) starter. I even got a starter sitter for while I'm gone.
Right now the starter is working on bread with a mix of whole wheat, high gluten and rye flours. ...perhaps I should just do a separate sourdough post...
I also picked up more nuts at the co-op. It probably seems excessive to many of you that I have 3 kinds of nuts in those quantities. These are raw, not roasted/salted snacking nuts (heh heh...I keep typing "nuts"). I use them as a dairy substitute. 1 part nuts to 3 parts water in the blender makes a good "milk" and if you've read past entries, you know that unlike most folks who make nutmilk, I leave the nut bits (heh heh) in the final product. Sometimes I have to chew my Sunday morning mocha made with nutmilk, but I live alone so no one gets grossed out.
The nuts on sale were walnuts out of the shell. These won't last as long as those in the shell. Actually, walnuts in the shell apparently last forever as I'm too lazy to crack them and pick out the nutmeats to make walnut milk (which makes an AMAZING latte with a bit of honey or stevia)
Doing this makes me wonder what a "normal" American pantry looks like. Right now I don't have a single fruit or vegetable product in a commercially packed can. The baking powder is still in a tin, but will probably be bought in bulk from here on out.
Would any ready care to share their pantry inventory? I won't judge you any harsher than you've judged me (you know you thought "3 kinds of seaweed? Seriously? What kind of granola actually has 3 kinds of seaweed in the house?) (and you also probably thought that my house must always smell of flatulence given the amount of BEANS listed...well I blame all that on a dirty hamster pen...I mean "it does not")
And the exercise also points out that I need to get all my boxes of jars of dried and canned goods together and put like with like! Then I can just keep one box with one jar of each type in the kitchen cupboard...or on the shelves.
If I can get the second bedroom turned into a cool storage room for the winter, I usually keep it about 45 degrees in there, I can put the squash and canned goods in there.
I have Diana's old vacuum sealer so some nutmeats may get vacuum packed and put in cold storage to extend the shelf life. I don't think it would be good to freeze them as oil tends to coagulate and it could make the texture weird. I'll ask Gram.
OK, time to make supper. I've made it through everything so I get to make something from scratch. Woohoo.