Disclaimer: Okay so I think one of the tiny humans around here deleted a bunch of my pictures so this post is going to be hit and miss on the visual aid. I do, however, have about 50 of these…
MOVING ON…a few weeks ago I posted about my self-inflicted “Chopped Challenge.” If you missed it, you can check it out here.
My first and only rule at the time of posting was NO grocery shopping (aside from a small budget for fresh produce & milk). However, after some further consideration, I decided to make the challenge of decluttering more effective and more in the spirit of the show “Chopped.”
As I said in my previous post, I love the challenge of using 3 random ingredients that makes the show so entertaining. But although it would be REALLY fun to pick 3 totally random things from the cupboard to use each night, I think my dear Mountain Man might not find it so entertaining after an entire month of eating random concoctions. And so, with all that in mind, Rule #2 was born.
Rule #2: 3 items must be chosen for supper each night. One item from the pantry, one item from the freezer and one from the refrigerator.
Here is how it played out for the first week. .
Day 1: Thursday 1/5/2017
“Basket” ingredients: shrimp, random selection of canned tomatoes, bell pepper.
I rummaged the kitchen freezer today knowing that was the most important disaster area in this whole challenge. I struck gold. SHRIMP! We love shrimp, but frugal as we tend to be, it is something reserved for special occasions when we make our favorite jalapeno poppers. Apparently the last TWO times I made poppers we had some shrimp left over and I tucked them away in the freezer for a rainy day… a day that never came. This is the problem with clutter. You have gold hidden in there somewhere and you can’t find it because it’s impossible to see the forest through the trees (or the shrimp behind the cheese.) I remembered a dish that I use to make back in our dual income days when we actually bought shrimp. I searched the pantry and fridge for the necessary ingredients and… viola! Shrimp Creole. mmmm… I was lacking a few of the typical ingredients but I had enough to get by and it was delicious.
Day 2: Friday 1/6/2017
“Basket” ingredients: Tostada Shells. Ground Elk Meat, Lettuce
This meal is one of my more standard quick fixes but I found the half used bag of tostada shells in the pantry and figured we might as well cross that one off my list. Add some home canned pinto beans & salsa, and some diced onion and… Ta Da! Tostados. (I would typically use diced tomatoes and my homemade taco sauce for these, but I was out of the taco sauce and didn’t really have time to whip up more. I’ll share how to make homemade taco sauce on another day.)
Day 3: Saturday 1/7/2017
“Basket” ingredients: Frozen (leftover) Kraut Burger filling, Potato salad, basic dough ingredients from the pantry
So I wasn’t crazy creative on this one either, but when you find Kraut Burger filling in the freezer… Kraut Burgers it is! It was simple to whip up some basic pizza dough for the crust and pair it with some leftover potato salad from the fridge that I didn’t want to waste. Some days you just need to keep things simple.
Day 4: Sunday 1/8/2017
“Basket” ingredients: Pork Chops, Caesar Salad Dressing, Bacon Salt
This simple Pork Chop supper was born from the grand invention of the hubby coming home and asking for grilled pork chops. For my sides I made baked potatoes topped with homemade bacon salt and roasted some Brussel sprouts tossed with the last of a bottle of Caesar salad dressing from the fridge that needed to be used up. Easy Peasy… Pork Chop Supper!
Day 5: Monday 1/9/2017
“Basket” Ingredients: Ground Pork, Shredded Cabbage, Liquid Aminos
We spent the day in town buying supplies for our current renovation and it turned into a long, stressful, rainy day. It was 7:30 PM by the time I started cooking and I needed something easy. I cooked up some ground pork, shredded cabbage & carrots and thinly sliced onions. Added some liquid aminos and we had some excellent… Egg Roll in a bowl (Adapted from the THM cookbook, a really great resource for healthy cooking.)
Day 6: Tuesday 1/10/2017
“Basket” Ingredients: Canned Mexican Corn, Frozen (leftover) Mexican Rice, Diced Bell Peppers and Onions
I found some leftover Mexican rice that I had previously frozen, mixed with browned elk meat, pinto beans, more diced peppers and onions and a few other things thrown into a skillet. Almost like Taco Soup, but with the added brown rice and a skillet meal rather than soup. Again, similar to a recipe found in the THM cookbook, but basically good ole fashioned fill your belly food.
Day 7: Wednesday 1/11/2017
“Basket” Ingredients: Frozen Turkey, Letter shaped Pasta , Carrots
This meal was our lunch meal and therefore quick and simple, but it was super fun for the girls. I found some letter shaped pasta in the cupboard, cooked it in some homemade bone broth, added Frozen turkey, carrots and celery and abbra-cadabra… Alphabet soup!
So as you can see it was a busy week for us and most meals were simple “go-to” meals that I make frequently but what a relief to just use what I have on hand and not have the big weekly grocery shopping trip.
The biggest accomplishment this past week that I am SUPER STOKED about was my kitchen freezer. I spent an afternoon emptying the entire freezer and got rid of everything that had been in there too long and had become freezer burnt. It was a bummer and very embarrassing to see the 5 gallon bucket of food that I tossed out. 90% of it was little bits of leftovers that I thought I would use up but because the freezer was so crammed full, I never knew what was in there. I was annoyed with myself for allowing all that food to go to waste over the last year. but the result? Organization and minimalism at it’s finest. I now know everything I have in there and am using it all up efficiently and easily.
I would encourage any of you who are considering a similar endeavor to start by cleaning out your freezer! Only toss out what is freezer burnt and cannot be used. Organize your shelves by category and start using up all that food that you still have. It is SO worth it!
Click here to see my next (and last) post in this mini-series to see how it all turned out.