Okey dokes folks, before you ooh and ahh over my massive pantry slim down, let me start by confessing the above is not my pantry. Nor would I want it to be! My new pantry resembles my old pantry, but just with a few things missing.
I had high hopes for the challenge. I envisaged myself cutting a swathe through the pantry, emptying the fridge and freezer and inventing some highly exotic and appealing recipes. I also thought I'd save heaps of dosh and be a transformed shopper at the end of it all, shunning wasteful purchases in favour of a more sustainable existence. So how did I fare against my own expectations? Let's see.....
- Cutting a swathe through the pantry: Semi-fail. Or if the glass jar is half full, perhaps that's a semi-win? Our pantry was so out of control that there were only so many lentils and beans I could add to my almost daily lunchtime salad without turning into a hippy. And apologies to all the bean fans and hippies I just offended. I did create a rather tasty home made baked bean dish and added them to salads but sadly I still have some left.
My other challenge was that strangely, during February, we ate out a bit, so the opportunities for gobbling the contents was actually reduced rather than broadened. And I'm also embarrassed to admit that the preserved lemons I preserved last year which would have ROCKED in an invented quinoa salad recipe remained hidden behind all manner of cupcake baking materials. Never to worry, I'm gonna use them up very soon.
On the win-side, to end on a positive note, I did use all our cans of tinned fish, most of the piles of pasta I definitely reduced the bean count.
- Emptying the fridge and freezer: Semi-win. I bought less and used more of what was in both. I cooked with most of the frozen meat & fish. I even used up some of the condiments and experimented with using Relish This beetroot relish on a salad instead of salad dressing, with delicious results. And I definitely bought less. But I didn't use up the frozen soup. Not yet anyway, will wait until the weather gets colder.
- Inventing some highly exotic and appealing recipes: Mostly fail. Although in doing the recipe count, I found I did cook quinoa, home made baked beans, crab & lemon pasta and some wilted grape tomato & anchovy pasta which I otherwise would never have cooked had I not been on the challenge. But they're hardly exotic recipes. Luckily the ones I did cook were all appealing! My problem is that perhaps I don't have enough imagination when it comes to cooking and am slightly risk averse when it comes to flavour. Basically I'm a bit of a pig, so would rather wolf down something scrumptious than try to cook something which might not be. Meh. There are worse things I guess.
- Saving heaps of dosh: Mostly win. I definitely cut back on shopping and only bought what was necessary. And I resisted the urge to "just get another tin of beans" if I wasn't sure how many hundred I already had in the pantry. I must say, I found this the most liberating part of the exercise. Not only was my wallet lighter, but so was my shopping trolley and my conscience.
- Becoming a transformed shopper: Mostly win. I must say the month's challenged definitely changed the way I think about shopping at the markets AND the supermarket. Unless I need something now I just don't buy it (except, perhaps, for loo paper). I've reduced the amount of self-saucing veggies and walls of cans in the pantry AND the amount of money I spend (and waste) every week.
What about you? Would you consider the challenge? Could you do it for a month? If you've done the challenge, what were your experiences?