Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pantry Cleanout

It's that time again - the pantry and freezer are full with random items!  Seems like this must happen at least twice a year.  Mostly, because I like to try new recipes - which inevitably means I end up with leftover ingredients.  This week I am not heading to the store for a weekly stock up of our kitchen, but cooking from what we already have.  What does that look like?

A lot of improvising for one thing.  Today we're grilling with our community group and as the sign up sheet for food got sent out I realized I didn't have any of the items on the list!  One possibility that I might be able to make from scratch was cookies.  I soon realized I didn't have any butter.  So I looked up recipes for cookies that didn't use butter and found a great applesauce alternative.  I actually didn't have applesauce, but I did have apple butter which substituted just fine!  Tonight we'll have oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and I didn't have to make a run to the store!  We even had a few extras as snacks for the rest of the week.

It also means discovering those back items on the shelves like my instant swiss mocha coffee mix.  Yum!  I'm trying to conserve the milk for the kids, so my morning latte is out.  But this has done the job just fine this week.  I have a nice surplus of this and all kinds of tea - so my hot beverage desire will be well fed this week.

Meal planning also becomes important.  My usual "go to" meal ideas aren't doable - but we have plenty of ingredients if I just use my imagination...and my slow cooker.  Oh the beauty of the slow cooker to mix together a quick meal out of nothing.  My slow cooked chicken with diced tomatoes and cream cheese is one of my favorites. (Don't forget to add the cream cheese at the end!)  That is looking to be Wednesday's dinner with that box of instant rice I've had sitting on our shelf for a few months.

Soups are a great way to use up those random items.  I made a big pot of chicken and rice soup and threw in some of our veggies that needed to be used up.   I think chicken noodle soup will find it's way into our menu later this week as well.

There's no eating out this week either, unless we had a gift card (which we don't).  Just me and my kitchen. :)

More and more I'm being convicted about being better stewards of what blessings we have been given.  Wasting money on convenience foods or excessive eating out has been high on my list to deal with.  Those resources could go to so many better things!

How are your pantries these days?  Am I the only one that has stuff falling out from the shelves? HA!

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