Friday, June 01, 2012

a challenge

Good food is one of life's great pleasures.  Unfortunately, food procurement can get out of control, and completely take over the available storage space.  Our various pantry cabinets are overflowing, and I've no idea what might lurk at the back of the shelves.  Consequently, I might be re-purchasing things we already own!  Food that's not known about and/or impossible to access serves no real purpose.  Money was spent on it, but it doesn't go on to fulfill its nutritious or tasty purpose.  

The chest freezer, likewise, always seems to be full to the brim, and it's generally a challenge to fit anything new in there.  

Last year we tried organizing everything and making inventory lists.  However, we weren't too good about updating the lists when something was used up or purchased, so they quickly became out of date and the system proceeded to assume its previous cluttery low-energy state.  It was a good try, but now it's time for a new plan.  

Besides, organizing isn't the point.  Minimalism is the end of organizing, and if we can have a less excessive quantity of food around, I suspect that we'll be able to find what we're looking for, not re-purchase things we already have, and even have more space to work in in our not-too-huge kitchen.  These are all very good things.  Perhaps it'll even force us to be more creative and come up with some new meal ideas.  

New perspective, new goals, new mission. 

So, for the month of June, we're instituting a pantry challenge.  For one month we will not buy anything that sits on a shelf or goes in the freezer.  

What we are allowed to buy: 
  • fresh veggies & fruit
  • dairy (milk, eggs, cheese, etc.)
  • pet food

That's it.  Other than that, we'll have to scrounge through the packed cabinets and freezer when it's time to determine the contents of a given repast.  This should lead to some significant creativity toward the end of the month!

In terms of shopping locales, I have a strong preference toward buying everything we can at the farmer's market and local organic CSA.  It would be a fabulous bonus if we managed to not set foot in a traditional supermarket for the course of the experiment.  We'll see how that goes, but with it being summer it should be quite feasible.  

My goals for the month: 

  • use up the majority of the forgotten food
  • temporarily reduce the grocery budget
  • create more space in the kitchen
  • gain a better awareness of what we have

Some 'before' pictures of the excessive food stockpile: 

the pantry

See the papers taped to the inside of the pantry doors?  Yeah, those are the year-old, grossly-out-of-date inventory lists.  It was a good idea, but the evidence of failed organization missions does have a way of coming back to haunt one.


This is the cabinet above the stove.  It contains what doesn't fit in the reasonably-sized pantry area.  It's mostly pasta and packaged things.  It's kind of silly that this overflow space is necessary.

indoor freezer

I reorganized the indoor freezer recently, so it's not as packed as it usually is.  However, 'organizing' in this case is code for 'shoved more things into the garage freezer so there's space indoors.'

garage freezer: full to the brim

It takes some mad 3D tetris skills to locate, extract, or replace anything in the garage freezer.  I call looking for things in there 'spelunking,' and generally wear winter gloves for it because I know I'll be removing everything from the darn thing in order to find whatever I'm looking for.

garage freezer: perspective

The freezer is rather tall.  That's a lot of space that's packed very efficiently with... stuff.

Here goes!

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