The job I detest the most is the packing up and cleaning of the kitchen, because it's normally the filthiest room in the house. Not so filthy as to have cockroaches camping out in corners, or ants eagerly licking up all my spills...but more "lazy messes", like when the grilled cheese you were making bubbles over and leaves a blob on the griller, and you think, "yeah, I'll wipe that up later....", but a month later it's still there :p ..... I really hope that's not just me!
And of course, the pantry must be cleaned out. We've had a rule since Easter to not buy any food - well no non perishables anyway, fresh fruit and veg only. All dry goods must be used up where possible. Yesterday, to try and use up the flour, I made pancakes for breakfast (I should do that more often, move or no move!) and dinner tonight is the combination of three 1/4 full packets of various dried pastas! [note added later: it was quite delicious!]
But, to my surprise, the results of "clearing out the pantry" have not just been edible - they've been so nice I might make them a regular feature on the menu!
Take this roast sweet potato. I had a bag of sweet potatoes to use up, and had seen this very appetising looking recipe a few weeks ago.
I roasted the potato in a hot oven until it was soft and starting to char on the outside. I mashed the flesh with 1/2 a can of chickpeas, 1/2 a small avocado, and then added some diced red pepper, some fresh mint leaves (my mint plant is now dead!) and a dollop of Total 2% greek yoghurt (not that I ever buy/miss sour cream that much, but this was such a good substitute for it!). A delicious and filling lunch was the result.
Last night, to use up the remains of the sweet potatoes, a box of veggie sausages and some spices that were starting to look more like jars of dust (!), I created a moroccan style tagine:
I sauteed one onion, 1/2 a red pepper, 2 large sweet potatoes and a box of veggie sausages cut into chunks with some cinnamon, chilli flakes, paprika, ground ginger, turmeric and some Ethiopian spice blend. When the mixture was starting to brown, I added a few dollops of TS's mother's homemade apple and green pepper chutney (just for some zing - you could use another fruit chutney if you have it) and vegetable stock to cover, then I brought it to the boil and let it simmer until the sweet potato was tender. Then I tipped in the remains of a packet of baby spinach and stirred it through and cooked until the spinach was wilted. Finished with salt and pepper to taste, and a squeeze of lemon. If I'd had fresh coriander to hand, I would have sprinkled that over the top. I served it with couscous, possibly the easiest grain in the world to cook. It was really good!
I think even if you aren't moving that a pantry clean-out is definitely a good thing. How many times have you thought to yourself "there's no food in the house" and headed out to the supermarket, only to realise that you probably could have made a meal with what you already had? It gets you using stuff that you'd forgotten about, it reduces waste, and it also saves you money because you're using up what you already have - win win!
The plan has gone well - as I am now down to the basic elements of food, and I am full of ideas for the week's meals to rid us of the last few pesky items. Some expensive and "will use" items will of course be coming with us - M&S Italian olive oil, my balsamic vinegar, my giant jar of Swedish mustard, homemade chutneys, etc - but as for the chana masala mix I've used once, and the dried mushrooms that tasted like fish food the only time I've used them? It might be time for the bin for that lot.
Fortunately, my new flat is within spitting distance of many wonderful looking supermarkets, so the pantry will be restocked in style. Although moving is a pain in the arse, we really are so excited about it as the flat we're going to is just gorgeous, and the area is so fantastic - everything I love about London is going to be on my doorstep! Best of all, I can walk to work! No more tubes! And I really hope this is my last move for a very, very long time.
So it might be quiet on here for a bit while I finish packing up and manage the logistics of getting my stuff from a to b, and then of course there's the unpacking! But who knows, maybe it will all go very smoothly........
And please do share - what are your favourite "from the pantry" meals? How would you use up one lone jar of kidney beans? What is something in your pantry that you know you should chuck, but never have, in the hope you might find a use for it one day?! I'd love to hear your ideas and stories.
Thanks, as always, for reading :D
- Kathryn at Limes and Lycopene writes about her week of eating from the cupboard and mid week meals from the fridge - loads of inspiration!
- The Frugal Cook - some great ideas here!
- Beyond Baked Beans - great ideas for budget cookery
- Pantry Gourmet
- Simple Meals From Your Pantry
- Nine msn Meal Maker - put in a few ingredients into the search engine and the recipe finder goes to work!