Sunday, April 26, 2015

Eat the Larder: 4 week update, & celebrating our progress

We didn't make some kind of massive turn-around on the Eat the Larder challenge this week, but that's no surprise. I took some time to review what we have stores of that we need to be using, and reflect on why we aren't using it. Some of it is because I have a tendency to hoard food that goes way deeper than we'll ever get on this blog. Though I feel like I've touched on some of the reasoning before. Some of it though is because we stocked up on some things when we were working with a MUCH more expansive kitchen at Mr. Moon's parents' house, right before we moved away from it. And of course it's been a whirlwind since then that we're only pulling out of now to take some deep breaths and focus on shaping our lives going forward the way we want them. I'd like to be starting some more/better routines, so we are more practiced at them when the next whirlwind hits us, whatever that may be.

Though, on the topic of better routines, I must say that we, and of course by that I mean mostly Mr. Moon, have gotten SO GOOD about a lot of things. I've managed to take my twice-daily vitamins & meds every day for 46 days straight! That's a LOT better than I've ever done by myself in the last 30 years of life, it was decidedly a team effort.

Also successful team efforts: Weekly meal planning. I know I've been spotty about posting them, but we've been doing great about making them AND sticking to them--and better yet, prepping for them. Breakfasts & lunches have been better, though I don't want to imply we've been bad about them, they just pale in comparison to our dinner planning is all. The general house cleaning has been... if not on schedule, at least at an acceptable level of cleanliness that we can live in it, have people over on a whim, and not send me into a panic attack most days. Following the checklists to improve speed & consistency is our next step.

What's in the pantry?

It's a lot of grains and beans. I mean I'd say easily, 65-80% grains & beans. If you don't count the open condiments. So many grains. And beans. Let's take a look at my canister collection, for speedy ingredients and things bought in bulk bins.

 Popcorn, red beans, walnut meal, panko, flax seed, Mr. Moon's vanilla granola, wheat groats (cracked wheat?), spirulina, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, rolled oats.
 Spices! Buckwheat, TVP, rolled oats, hidden is soy protein isolate. Second row: Corn starch, AP flour, slivered almonds, corn meal.
 Nutritional yeast, bulgar wheat, Scottish (steel cut) oats.
Black beans, Triticale wheat berries, hummus mix, brown rice.

And then of course the cupboards...
 Mr. Moon has his own cabinet for his food. We eat some of our dinners together, but mostly our meals are different, even though he cooks a lot of them for me. Looks like he's out of ramen and tuna though.
My cupboard. Beans! And tomatoes. And canned meats. I'm out of chicken stock, which is kind of amazing because I accidentally double bought cases of stock a couple months back. Also very low on soups. I'm killing the larder challenge! Just... apparently have a lot more to go.
More of Mr. Moon's foods. Corn meal, irish oatmeal, cornbread mix, tabbouli mix, falafel mix, no idea what that other box is... There's probably enough room to move these down to his cupboard now! And get them out of the cup cupboard.

You see what I mean about the grains? And the beans? Let's go look at the pantry...
 Granulated sugar (we were making kombucha when I stocked up), white rice, split peas, lentils, quinoa, soy beans (which was an ill-advised purchase and now I don't know what to do with them because I keep trying to hide them in things and they're gross).
 So many things omg. Of these two shelves, the top on is his and the bottom one is mine. Top/His food: Baking stuff, cous cous, farina. Bottom/Mine: some tomato sauce & alternative milks, a bunch of pickles & condiments...
 Okay just ignore my finger lol. This shelf is all me again. Green basket is sick tummy basket. Blue basket is baking add-ins. Pinto beans, brown sugar, lavender blossoms, 10-grain cereal mix, what wheat flour, all the pancake mix in the world because I forgot I had one and then we were going camping and then didn't...
 Backups of whole wheat flour, AP flour, TVP.
This whole section is literally just backups of things we have elsewhere.

 We share condiments. Though we have separate peanut butters, because he likes sugary stuff and I don't. But it seemed silly to have two bottles of sriracha, two tapatios, two malt vinegars and two olive oils just because we eat pretty much entirely different foods everywhere else.
Coffee and tea is all me, sports drink and koolaid (which is usually on the gatorade, why is it down there?) is all him. Bottom shelf has my onion collection!

Oof! I can't even get started on the freezer & fridge. Too much for today. But, that's the non-perishables I'm working with to try to get through.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Menu: Apr 20-26, 3-week Update on Eat the Larder challenge

What's on the menu?

Breakfasts: Smoothies, eggs on toast, Turkey "benedict" (I don't like hollandaise on the turkey version, instead using garlic & mayo on the english muffin & adding a tomato slice, but this isn't some Pinterest renaming crap, it's just an aphasia slip-up that stuck).

Lunches: Turkey & roast beef wraps/sandwiches, leftovers.

Snacks: Really not doing great on these.

Monday: Tacos/Nachos! [using up leftovers]

Tuesday: Steak & Broccoli [beef, freezer cooking]

Wednesday: Shrimp (I don't know what kind of shrimp, we'll find out what we're in the mood for that day.) ETA, we ended up with a giant creole-shrimp caesar salad! Bottled dressing, but homemade croutons.

Thursday: Pita Pizza [freezer cooking]

Friday: Rice & beans [pantry cooking]

Saturday: Chili dogs

Sunday: Noodle bowl
How are we doing on the Eat The Larder Challenge?

Let me tell you how not good we're doing. Epic fail. I mean, we didn't do TOO badly, we didn't stock up on anything new, we just bought as LOT more perishable stuff than I had intended. The steak & broccoli, shrimp, pita pizza, chili dogs & noodle bowl all rely heavily on freezer & pantry items. But, we got lunch meat twice & a bunch of fresh veggies because I just had all these cravings... No, not THOSE kinds of cravings! lol

We will start trying that again next week. I'm going to take this week to really pick through what we have and see what we can make with it. I was going to do that yesterday but we ended up having friends over for wine instead.

What's on your menu this week? Need planning ideas? I'll be linking up at, if you need other ideas!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Organizing Dilemma: Beverages

I like having a coffee & tea station. Everything in one place when we need it. That in mind, we also have a soda maker station, which doubles as cocktailing station, but also has the flavor syrups that go for both soda and coffee. And then of course there's the liquor cabinet... I'd better show you.

Here's our bar with soda maker and cocktailing supplies. The bottom shelf has soda & coffee syrups, and a rack of bitters (because my preferred beverage is plain soda water with a dash of bitters). So of course it makes sense to have those accessible. The middle shelf is canned soda, because I found a great deal and it's like a year's worth of soda--but at that drinking rate, I don't need them that accessible. So I want to put those elsewhere, and we'll get back to that. Top shelf is spare syrups, and that seahakws tin needs something in it so it's useful. It's also getting the flask collection, I just forgot to put that up before I took pictures.

Then there's the liquor cabinet...
 The top section has glassware and liquors.

Bottom section (behind wood doors so it isn't visible) has liqueurs, mixers (which is mostly what I use canned soda for!), empty growlers, and bottled beer. And an empty space where I think I'll put the canned soda from the bar.

This is a set of pantry shelves that kind of got overrun.
The snacks are fine there, aside from escaping their space. The spice rack on the left has been cluttering up the counter, but traded with the rice cooker because I was using it. I'd like to get it living accessible but off the counter! The grapefruit and unpictured cranberry juices are what I stash in my purse for after bloodworm because I tend to faint. So I want them accessible but logically filed. The V8's on the other hand, I probably have one of those a day and sometimes two. I want them VERY accessible. I'm thinking about putting all these int hat middle shelf over the bar, which will make the snacks less annoying too.

This is our Coffee/Tea station, which needs some TLC.

Two issues: 1,
It needs to be organized. But two,

This is what one end of my counter looks like and I want it decluttered. The rice cooker belongs back on its shelf, but that brings the spice rack back out. I was thinking about putting the tea kettle out on the bar and moving the currently-open coffee & tea to those shelves instead of here. I'm just not certain there's enough room for all that, but I could always have the snacks and beverages switch kitchen shelves so the beverages will be next to the bar and the snacks next to the counter. And I'm wary of the fact that puts Mr. Moon making coffee over carpet.

It's like, I want my stuff to be accessible for how we use them and look nice at the same time. Why is this so hard?!

Friday, April 3, 2015

April is the Eat from the Larder Challenge

The Challenge:

Northwest Edible Life has a yearly Eat from the Larder challenge in April. I only read about it on April 1, but it had been a half-assed goal of ours anyway so I jumped onboard.

Their rules are a ZERO dollar food budget and no intentional stocking up ahead. Of course without any forewarning I couldn't possibly have intentionally stocked up ahead, but I'm not interested in a $0 grocery budget--just cleaning out some of our excess pantry storage and being a little creative. We're having an issue with our freezer & fridge that requires us to minimize our perishable food stock before fixing it, besides the excessive collection of condiments and pickles in there.

Our Rules:

  • No purchasing non-perishable food items. 
  • Minimal purchase of perishable items. 
  • No opening of new condiments if they can be avoided (until after the fridge is fixed, whether that's in two weeks or May). 
  • Be creative! 

Keep it simple, right? Bonus goals:
  • Use every gadget in the kitchen. NO NO NO NOT ALL AT ONCE. 
  • Make at least one menu item each week that we haven't made in 6 months (totally arbitrary numbers, I just want to get out of a rut). 
  • New recipes are awesome. 
  • Be able to fit all the non-perishable foods in the food pantry shelves & designated cupboards. 
  • Get all the bulk-food items switched from bags to proper food storage containers. 

What's the point?

NWEdible Life's goals are to pare down stores before the summer harvest & storage season. For us, it's practicing a little creativity and moderation. Our balcony garden isn't even planted for the season yet, and it's all herbs anyway, so there's not much harvest storage space required for that. We'd mostly like to make sure we're continuing to learn and hone new skills that would be beneficial in a long-term homesteading situation. We may not have the property and garden and "larder" now, but we'll be learning a lot of new skills once we do, so it seems reasonable to work on skills we can do now so we can best take advantage of different learning opportunities in the future. And of course, fitting into our available space (not being overstocked) is an issue. 

Are you joining the challenge? Looking forward to a new growing season? Trying out new recipes? Just hoping to get through the week with your family managing to eat most of their meals? 
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