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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June Use It Up Challenge: Kitchen

While the boys are gone, I decided that this would be a perfect time for a Use-It-Up the kitchen. (When they are here, I still try to use food efficiently and avoid waste, but feel a certain amount of pressure to have foods on hand that they find appetizing). So what is currently IN my kitchen, waiting to be used up eaten? So glad you asked.

First, I somehow have a fridge that is chock-full of vegetables. I'm not sure how it happened (party preparations, maybe), but there is a bag with 6 red bell peppers and another with 6 green bell peppers, as well as organic salad mix, celery, and a beautiful bunch of baby beets from the farmer's market. So hurray for having healthy fresh veggies! As fruit goes, I'm a litle more limited. There are still 3 bananas in the kitchen and several bags of frozen strawberries from last year. Strawberry season is upon us now, but it's late due to the very cold and rainy spring. I think I may concentrate on blueberries for our freezer stock this year anyway. So using up those berries in smoothies before buying more fruit is a reasonable thing to do, also clearing the way for blueberry season in July. The freezer also has a 2-lb block of cheese that I will save for when the boys return.

In the can/packaged food cupboard, pickings are slimmer. There are 6 cans of black olives, 2 of wild salmon, 1 of marionberry jam, 6 of mandarin oranges, and 2 of vegetarian refried beans. Also a jar of pasta sauce and some leftover pasta shells.

In the grain area, there is LOTS of brown rice, raisins, rice krispy cereal, several cups of quinoa, both white and whole wheat flour and some brown sugar and oatmeal. I also recently bought some Grape-Nuts, a whole grain cereal. And in the interest of more vegetarian protein, a small bag of almonds and a couple of pounds of green lentils.

Little extras: kalamata olives, baking yeast, artichoke hearts, vanilla ice cream (not the good kind, luckily for me and my LDL level--I already polished off the tastier Rice Dream), homemade tomato soup, corn tortillas, parmesan cheese, jam, and Smart Balance margarine. Oh, and an ongoing, ever-replenishing stock of wonderful fresh eggs from the Ladies. And Earl Grey tea, green tea, Pero, and a tiny amount of coffee.

So what will I buy? I will buy milk and yogurt (almost out), maybe more fruit. I will try my darndest not to buy any more food until the cupboards, freezer and fridge are mostly empty, while still eating a healthy and balanced diet (coffee may be where this resolution breaks down).

Our usual food budget for a family of 4 is $400. Some months we go over, some under. Most of the time, with planning, it's enough (not enough to add in much wine, licorice or chocolate, though). I'm not used to the dynamics of purchasing and cooking for 1 person, and I can see how it would be easier to accidentally waste food while making the transition. I'm hoping that I can keep myself (after this Use It Up Challenge is over) to $100 per month, or even less, for my own food.

And guess what else is in my cupboard, leftover from the party? Several bottles of good wine, 8 cans of diet cola, and at least 12 bottles of stout. A terrible hardship if it has to be used up, least the diet cola.

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