Anyway, January was a fun month in the kitchen for me. Inspired by the Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats, I made it my goal to eat down the freezer and pantry for the whole month buying mostly only fresh produce and dairy each week. I desperately needed room in my freezers and I had a number of pantry items with expiration dates approaching. (As you may know, I started couponing last year which led to some sizeable stockpiles.) For the most part, it was a fantastic success. Not only did we eat every bit of frozen meat except a turkey and prime rib roast, we also ate nearly all of my stash of prepared meals or meal components. We still have some shredded beef, chili, and soups but nothing like what we started the month with. Most of my pantry items now live IN my pantry--a big accomplishment! I no longer have two dozen cans of tomatoes, which is a bit sad, but this means I can stock up anew. My flours and sugars are no longer in the 10 lb+ range, which makes me worry less about spoilage and insects in the coming warmer months (as those things still don't fit in the pantry yet). Cash-wise I can't say that I saved a ton, because I have no idea what my average monthly expenditure is--from October through December, I spent anywhere from $300 to nearly $800. However, I did spend a reasonable amount in January, which makes me happy. That number will be my goal for the coming months.
Eating down the pantry requires meal planning based upon what's on hand. Since the cupboards and freezing were bursting, I had a lot to choose from for the most part. I will say that we ate a whole lot of chicken, especially chicken thighs at the end. Frankly that isn't too unusual, but since I soon dropped a regular menu item (taco salad) because (a) we were out of taco meat and (b) it seemed to be giving my baby gas (he's breastfed), we wound up eating chicken an extra night per week. I also started craving beef even though we had it once a week, which was odd but possibly because I had so much in December. We ate a good mix of family favorites and new recipes. In the near future, I hope to share recipes for chicken with a tomato-basil cream sauce, chocolate pudding, pizza sauce, spaghetti with meat sauce, slow cooker chicken cacciatore, vanilla wafers, and a new waffles recipe.
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