Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pantry Throwdown!

Main pantry area

Cereal and "extras" pantry

Upstairs freezer

Basement freezer

When my personal chef friend Tami Mitchell came up with the idea for a "Cook with What You've Got Challenge," I was in! I've been trying to deplete the freezer inventory since New Year's, and been doing an admirable job of it, but I'd slacked off a little bit lately. My insatiable desire to try every new recipe I run across means I rarely make the same dish twice here at home, and I cook most evenings. When we have leftovers, I package them up and freeze them, thinking we'll eat them one night in the future. But then I end up making something new the next night, and the next, and so on. So we never get to the freezer meals, and they're starting to accumulate.

In addition, I have a pretty well-stocked pantry. When I make the occasional run to Trader Joe's, I stock up on the items we like so I'll have them around. When I make the too-frequent BJ's trip, ditto, only in massive quantities. And when a family favorite is on sale at my grocery store, I buy a few as well. The result, as you can see above, is enough food to feed a small country. I didn't take a picture of my baking cupboard, but since I'm not that much of a baker, it contains only the staples like flour, sugar, vanilla and chocolate chips.

So Tami offered the challenge to cook for a week (or more) from the things you have in your home. She allows one trip to the store for produce and dairy. I'm planning to do that today, and there are just two recipes I REALLY need to try before the challenge begins on Monday, so I'll get the ingredients for those as well.

In case it doesn't sound like I'm on board, I really am. In fact, yesterday as I was looking through the fruit and vegetable drawers to see what we'd need for the week ahead, I found the remainder of the fresh basil I'd purchased for the lasagna I made during the week, as well as half a bag of baby spinach. Instead of letting them go bad, I decided to whip up a batch of pesto. I'll probably end up using it next week for one of our meals. Or else I'll freeze it.

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