Another Fall, Another Pantry

The wind has shifted and brought the all familiar fall chill. For the next several weeks (wait, no, I just checked the forecast, and winter will be here in 10 days apparently), sweaters, scarves, soups, and boot socks will all have a regular appearance in day to day life.

With the onset of fall, we’ve started our [unofficial] pantry challenge. (I still have an Azure Standard order coming in a couple of weeks, so our pantry will be added to somewhat at that time.)

With the onset of colder weather, I’m grateful to have a chance to do my grocery shopping from the pantry.

For me personally, the pantry challenge goes beyond using what we have on hand to feed my family. It includes menu planning and making a little food stretch a long way.

We eat a breakfast we call “scramble” in our home. I fry one or two pieces of bacon and cut them into pieces. I scramble eggs (usually two per person) in a skillet, add the chopped bacon pieces, cook them together and top with a handful or two of shredded cheese.

A standard breakfast might be two eggs, two slices of bacon, and one slice of toast, per person. With scramble, however, we stretch our bacon supply a lot longer while still giving everyone a decent serving. The eggs, bacon, and cheese together are a satisfying mix and keep us feeling fuller, longer. It’s essentially a glorified omelette, but shared amongst the whole family.

In pantry challenge terms, using two slices of bacon to feed a family at a meal time is a better use than using eight slices of bacon.

Make sense?

Leftovers are another piece of the pantry challenge puzzle. One of the most economical (and tasty) uses of leftovers is something you may have heard referred to as “fridge dump soup”. Essentially, you take the meats and veggies leftover from various meals, throw them in a pot, add some stock (or water), seasonings, and voila – soup is served!

(Cooking hack: if you have people who are particular or picky about what they see in their soup, an immersion blender can make those items magically disappear without them ever leaving the pot…)

My least favorite part of the pantry challenge is menu planning. It’s a love/hate relationship for me. I love knowing in advance what I need to prepare and what I’ll be making. I hate sitting down and trying to plan an appetizing menu a week or so in advance.

I don’t know what we’re doing next Thursday night, but I know I have to plan a dinner to slap in the Thursday slot of the spreadsheet…

Sometimes it’s fun to see what I can come up with to make from the ingredients I have on hand. Other times it’s a bit of a chore. Every time, however, we eat pretty well, considering.

Now, as the season shifts, so does our routine and so do our habits. Gone are the days when garden-fresh produce is an available snack or side. Now are the days where the freezer or the mason jars hold the keys to our nutrition and our meal time.

This will be the third year of our pantry challenge, and for the lessons I’ve learned and the intentionality it has produced, I’m very grateful.

Also, for the fact it was 34 degrees outside when I woke up this morning, I’m grateful to do my grocery shopping from my own kitchen.

Here’s to another beautiful fall, and here’s to another pantry challenge.

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