The Cupboard was Bare – Not Really

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We arrived home early this morning after an overnight flight from Singapore.  I had pretty well cleared out the refrigerator before we left and shopping was the last thing on my mind this morning.  The house-sitters had bought fresh milk for us and GMan made a loaf of bread.

This afternoon I began to think about what we might have for dinner and I really was not in the right frame of mind to go grocery shopping shopping so I decided to make do with what we had on hand.  There were sausages in the freezer as well as some pre-cooked rice and diced raw onion.

I grilled the sausages and then sliced them up. Next, I fried the onion in the pan, added 1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder, sliced celery (from the garden) and a broccoli stalk which was also lurking in the freezer.  A can of tomatoes and 5 olives which was all that was left from a jar in the frig completed the sauce.  I added the thawed rice and sliced sausages and heated the mixture before putting it in a Pyrex dish.

2015-09-13 01I topped it with a mixture of grated cheddar and parmesan cheese mixed with flaxseed meal and ground pepitas and popped it under the grill for a few minutes.

2015-09-13 02Since we had not bought any fruit and vegetables today,  I served it with a generous helping of kale from the garden which I chopped and stir-fried with a sprinkle of chilli powder and squeeze of lime juice.

GMan and I ate one half of this tonight and the other half has been divided into 3 serves for my lunches this week.

Never-Ending

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Even though I have consistently decluttered for several years there are always random things that elude several attempts.

031These 3 little bottles of food colouring were in my pantry until tonight.  I have overlooked them each time I have cleaned out my pantry.  Tonight I opened the wire drawer to get out black pepper to season our dinner and saw these bottles of food colouring with fresh eyes.  I do not use it in any baking and it is a long time since I have made play dough or anything else that I may wish to colour so they went straight in the bin.  The fact that all of the “ingredients” are numbers made me even more certain that there is no way that I would ever use them again.

What have you decluttered lately?  Anything that should have been binned a long time previously?

My Turn

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Today it was time to clean and tidy up my pantry.

It is really not too bad but was definitely time to check for anything lurking in the background.  I wiped out all of the shelves, decanted a few things into the new jars and generally re-arranged it to work a bit better.

BEFORE

002

001The space on the bottom shelf is where the dehydrator normally lives but I was using it when the photo was taken.  The pack in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo is some gluten-free bread mix which was 18 months past its best before date but I made it anyway and it turned out well.  There is a second pack in the box which I might make up next weekend.

I have moved a few things out of the pantry – a large coffee plunger which now lives on the shelf above the oven with the other coffee plunger and the teapot.  The coffee grinder which we never use is going to the op shop along with a plastic container which belongs in the freezer but I never have it in there as it just wastes space and limits how much I can pack in.  Finally, the pile of plastic plates and bowls (meant to be disposable but I keep washing and re-using them) have been moved from the pantry.  I have kept 2 of each in the cupboard for the grandchildren but the rest will be stored in the sideboard for use at BBQ’s or other events.  One day I may decide to offload them altogether but not just yet.

AFTER

005I did not take a photo of the bottom shelf and the floor but suffice to say they look a bit better, too.

Still Decluttering

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Posts have been somewhat lacking this week as my real life is demanding more of my time and I have barely been online.  Please bear with me as this will continue for the next couple of weeks.

I have spent a couple of days putting my decluttering skills to good use as I sorted and tidied the pantry in my mother’s unit.  Although it is a one bedroom unit in a retirement village there is a small but functional kitchen with a walk-in pantry.

I did not have my camera with me to show you some before and after photos but I will try to explain a little of what I did.

There was some great organisation already in place.  All of the small jars of herbs and spices live in a shoebox to keep them together.

The first step was to check for duplicates of items – there were a couple and then I decanted items that were in packets into appropriately sized containers.  There was no shortage of storage jars and canisters.  I then gathered like things together.  The baking ingredients – flour, raising agents, coconut etc are all on one shelf.  Dried fruit and nuts are together as are breakfast provisions.

One of the important lessons I discovered from this exercise is that we have to constantly adapt to changing circumstances.  My mother no longer prepares her own evening meal so many of the things that I keep in my pantry are simply not applicable to her situation.  I am aware that some of the ingredients that she has will probably not be replaced when they are depleted.

Pantry storageThe other consideration is the size of the containers.  The above photo is my pantry but the large red-lidded jars came from from Mum.  I have now acquired another 4 as Mum no longer needs them.  She simply does not keep that much of anything and the jars are quite heavy and difficult to handle.

I can see another bit of re-arranging of my own pantry coming up as I consider what other ingredients I will keep in the large jars and work out a way to fit them in.

Circumstances are constantly evolving as we welcome children into our homes, they grow and then finally leave home.  Later there may be the addition of grandchildren or the death of a spouse.  All of these things require us to adapt what we have and how we use it.  It is easy for the essentials of one phase of our lives to become the clutter of the future so it is wise to review our needs regularly.

I would love to hear your thoughts on changing circumstances and clutter.

Foodie Friday – Pantry Storage

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Firstly, I apologise for the lack of posts this week.  I have been busy with other things and have just not found the time to get my head together to write anything useful.  I am also behind in responding to your comments but am about to rectify that once I finish this post.  I will be busy this weekend but hopefully things will get back on track from Monday.  I hope you have a great weekend.

I cook most of our food from scratch, so naturally I keep a store of the ingredients I use regularly.  I do not store tonnes of food in case of an apocalyptic event, however, we do have enough so that I only shop for dry goods about every 3 – 4 months.  I never run out of everything and I never feel the need to race off to the shops at the first hint of a severe weather event such as a cyclone or possible flooding.  These are the 2 most likely scenarios where we live.

We eat a gluten-free diet so I have gradually eliminated all wheat-based products from the pantry.

Gluten-free muesli (homemade)

Rainsins
Sultanas
Currants
Dried apricots

Walnuts
Almonds
Cashews

Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Sesame seeds
Chia seeds

Almond meal
Flaxseed meal
Psyllium husk
Sago
Quinoa flakes

Gluten-free flour (homemade)

Brown rice flour
Potato flour
Chickpea (besan) flour
Quinoa flour
Arrowroot

Kidney beans
Haricot beans
Red lentils
Brown lentils
Chickpeas

Arborio rice
Brown rice

Apple cider vinegar
White vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Balsamic vinegar

Tomato sauce (home-made)
Worcestershire sauce (home-made)
Tamari
Caramelised balsamic vinegar

Avocado oil
Coconut oil
Olive oil

Allspice
Chilli
Cinnamon
Coriander
Cumin
Curry powder
Ginger
Mixed spice
Paprika
Smoked paprika
Taco mix
Tumeric
Yellow mustard seeds

Beef stock powder
Vegie stock powder

Black pepper (peppercorns)
Cooking salt
Herb salt
Sea salt

Raw sugar
Brown sugar
Honey
Golden syrup
Treacle

Cocoa
Coconut

Skim milk powder

Baking powder
Bicarb soda

Black tea
Earl Grey tea
Coffee

Rice cakes
Rice crackers

Canned tuna
Canned tomatoes

Pantry

Most of the dry goods are bought from bulk containers so I store them in glass or plastic jars in the pantry.  I have some 10 litre plastic buckets which I keep excess of some items in.  These are in a separate store cupboard.

I may have missed a couple of things but that is basically what we keep.  Some of the items are left from before we changed our diets so are unlikely to be replaced.   How does my list compare to what you have?  Any thoughts, suggestions or questions?

Foodie Friday – A Shopping List

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Shopping lists are an essential ingredient if you are to have an organised approach to planning and preparing nutritious meals for your family.  They were around long before the days of personal organisers, smartphones and endless ‘to do’ lists.  My mother has always written her list on the back of a used envelope and I tend to use some sort of scrap or excess paper.

I imagine that the process of writing a list goes back to when shopping day was a major expedition, perhaps by horse and buggy, and it was vital to buy everything that was required for a month or longer.  No popping into the supermarket after work to pick up something for dinner and ending up with $50 worth of impulse buys.

Each week I buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the week plus a few basic items that I need from the supermarket. Although I write a list every week, it really comes into its own when I shop for pantry staples at Simply Good.  I try to do this about every 3 – 5 months as it is a 90km round trip.  I am not using a horse and buggy but I do have a regard for both the environmental impact of driving that distance as well as my time and energy.

Last Saturday was a big shopping day so we set out early.  Our first stop was Simply Good, followed by Aldi, fruit and vegetable stall, the local butcher and finally the Co-op.  I checked the pantry and refrigerator before writing a comprehensive list to ensure that nothing was forgotten.  The list does vary from time to time but this will give you a broad idea of the sorts of ingredients I buy.

Shopping list
As you can see, most of what we eat is whole foods cooked from scratch so I am buying ingredients – not meals.   We eat a gluten-free diet and some of the items reflect this choice.

Next week I will show you my pantry and discuss the storage and organisation which works for me.

Pantry Overhaul

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Even though my pantry was reasonably organised, I decided to give it an overhaul today.  I had noticed that there were a few things stashed in containers at the front of the shelf that needed to be used or relocated.

This is what it looked like before I started.

2012-02-12 01The photo does not show the top shelf which has 2 tubs of glass jars – ones with pop-top lids in one tub and those without in the other.  I sorted all of the jars, made sure they all had lids, labels had been removed and were ready to be used when I need them.

I took a lot of the stuff out and re-arranged the jar storage system so inevitably things looked a lot worse before they got better.  Here is a view of the kitchen earlier this afternoon.

2012-02-12 02And more….

2012-02-12 03To add some interest to my day, The Duke announced at lunchtime that there were 3 branches that needed trimming of the lime tree but they were laden with fruit.  He was prepared to leave them for the time being but since the tree is never completely dormant I decided now was as good a time as any.  I picked a 10 litre bucket full of limes and cut the offending branches off.  So, in the midst of the pantry project I juiced the limes and have frozen them – some in ice-cube trays and some in 400ml blocks.

I moved a couple of things from the pantry to the sideboard so we cast a critical eye over the contents of the sideboard.  The Duke and I agreed that a few things could go.  A true minimalist would probably get rid of almost the entire contents but that is not my style.  However, it is good to refresh your memory of what is actually stored and I have resolved to use some of my ‘good’ things more regularly.

My op shop bag is now full and ready to go when I am next going to town.  I also have a bag of a few items for Belle.  I always offer anything which I think may be useful to my daughters before I consider sending it to the op shop or Freecycle.  However, they understand that there is no compulsion for them to accept it and I will not be mortally wounded if they say no.

I have finally finished revamping the pantry and this is the result.

2012-02-12 04Bottom shelves

2012-02-12 05I threw out a couple of bits of foodstuff – a few crumbs of powdered mustard in a tin that must be at least 10 years old, some jam that had gone mouldy and a handful of glace cherries that  were over 12 months old and were all dried and shrivelled.  I had about 3 bottles with a tiny bit of oil in each so that was all decanted into the current bottle.

I now know that everything in the pantry is useful, in working order  or fit to be eaten.  I also know exactly what is there and can work on using up some of the odd items which are not part of my regular basic stores.