Pantry Cooking Project, Day 3

Growing up, our beverage choice at dinner was usually water or water. We drank a lot of water in our house. Sometimes there was juice or milk at breakfast or lunch, and in the summer, Country Time lemonade or instant Nestea iced tea (you do know to boycott Nestlé, right?), but usually, it was water, and it’s still my favorite beverage. Preferably cold with no ice, but I’m pretty flexible. Am I the only one who sees people using a garden hose and wants to go over and get a quick drink? Yeah, probably the only one over the age of seven.

Anyway.

These days, I still mostly drink water, but I’ve gotten in the habit at The Best Job Ever of buying a drink in the afternoon: usually sweet, usually caffeinated, usually cold. Today, it’s jasmine and honey iced tea with lychee jelly. Delicious. But I want to see about moving to homemade drinks for my afternoon treat. One of the main reasons I don’t do that is that I don’t want to deal with washing out a container, but maybe I can find one that’s wide enough that I can just wash it the way I would a drinking glass. I’ll be on the lookout.

Possible afternoon bring-along drinks:

ice water (feels like more of a treat than just water from the tap)
sekanjabin
sweet iced tea
chia lemonade or other chia drink
V-8, tomato juice, Clamato (all faves, but in hot weather, they don’t tend to satisfy thirst as well for me)
[your suggestion here]

Food today:

Breakfast was delicious. Frozen O’Brien potatoes fried in oil; eggs over easy; a little sriracha; a cup of V-8; some yellow pepper strips.

breakfast

Lunch was an embarrassment of food in packets. I had taken some ham out of the freezer to make sandwiches with, but it wasn’t thawed yet when I went to make my lunch in the morning, so I just grabbed some stuff to take.

lunch

Dinner was some really amazing cheeseburgers, with those awesome homemade buns. Mom often thinks we’re not eating enough meat, so she sends us boxes of meat from Omaha Steaks. These are their burgers, topped with melted Swiss cheese and caramelized onions. Usually, I eat half my burger and give James the other half, because I’m just not all that into big chunks of meat, but this time, I ate the whooooooole thing, and it was just. so. good.

dinner

Money spent on groceries today: $0
Money spent in restaurants today: $2.99 (project total $11.52)
Food gifts received today: $0 (project total $17)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream, milk, hamburger patties

Pantry Cooking Project, Day 2

I wasn’t hungry at breakfast time, and I knew I would be eating lunch out, so I took a bag of snacks to work. Ended up eating most of it, a little bit at at time as the day went on. Didn’t eat the walnuts, which are a good thing for me to carry as a snack, because I don’t like them enough to just eat them for the sake of them, but they’re great to have if I get genuinely hungry.

bags of snack foods: cheese, cheetos, apple, granola bar, walnuts

Ate lunch out with a group of co-workers, including my friend Danny, who paid for my lunch (it was only a two-dollar slice of pizza, but still). Then I bought us both dessert and myself some iced tea — total $8.53.

For dinner, I stuck to the plan for a change. Made miso-vegetable soup. Basically, make any vegetable soup you like, boil some tofu cubes and rice noodles in there for a bit, then add 2-4 tablespoons of miso that have been stirred into a little warm water first. And some soy sauce. A lot if you like salt the way we do. :-) It was good, but fairly… dull. Pretty, though. Veggies this time were onions, garlic, carrots, celery, kale, sugar snap peas, and hijiki.

two bowls of soup with spoons and chopsticks

Money spent on groceries today: $0
Money spent in restaurants today: $8.53 (project total $8.53; sigh. I am hoping not to spend too much on food out this month. I do still have one office lunch left this week, though, for a co-worker who is leaving.)
Food gifts received today: $2 (project total $17)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream, milk (poured it out; it had gone bad)

Pantry Cooking Project, Day 1

Want to make me or my mother cry? Talk about that period after her divorce when she could barely afford to feed my brothers, and she herself went hungry a lot of times. She remembers feeding them pancakes because that was all there was, and the pain and humiliation on her face when she talks about that is almost more than I can bear, even these decades later.

Food is central in our lives, mine and mom’s—we talk every day, and those conversations always include questions about what the other is cooking, has cooked, will cook. But even for people who aren’t as food-focused as we are, it can be anxiety-producing not to have enough. I expect some of that anxiety to surface during this experiment, and it’s important for me to remember that it is my privilege that makes this something I can do without worrying that I really won’t have enough food. Any time I feel impoverished, I just have to remember that I’m part of a tiny percentage of the world’s people who have enough to eat every single day of their lives.

Today’s food:

Breakfast: Toasted homemade bread (James made this lovely pullman white); eggs over medium (because I left them too long); an orange.

breakfast photo

This was my packed lunch: A box of little tomatoes; jalapeno-cheddar Cheetos (I love those things!); an apple and a slice of Cheddar; a handful of walnuts

lunch photo

However, my actual lunch was sushi and tempura that my boss bought me to celebrate my graduation. I don’t take photos in restaurants, so you don’t get to see that. I also ate the Cheetos as an afternoon snack.

And speaking of not getting to see something, I had planned to make Mexican food for dinner, but I was too tired to bother when I got home, so James made grilled cheese sandwiches, and for mine, because he loves me, he put sliced tomato and onion, and served it alongside some of those tomatoes I didn’t eat at lunch. As you can see, I forgot to take a picture until I was nearly done with dinner. Ah, well.

dinner

So no recipes today — all simple foods, nothing too complicated, but delicious nonetheless. Tomorrow’s planned dinner is miso noodle soup. We’ll see how it goes. Plans are great to have, but they have to give way to the realities of what’s happening in the moment.

Onward!

Money spent on food today: $0
Money spent in restaurants today: $0
Food gifts received today: about $15 (project total $15)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream (evening snack)

The Pantry Project starts tomorrow

I’ve planned our meals until Saturday (see below). I’ve found my camera cable. I’ve made my last trip to the grocery store (for snacks for our Torchwood marathon this evening). And, oh yeah:

I’ve graduated!

Anywho, tomorrow, we’re going to start a project to see how long we can go without buying groceries, with these exceptions:

Coffee (because seriously)
Fresh produce
Eggs/dairy

James is up for it; when he realized we were out of mayo, he said, “but you can make it from what we have, right?” So I’ll make some mayo tomorrow and take pics. I’m curious to see what kinds of things we run out of first. I’ll tell you one thing: it won’t be beans. We have so. Many. Beans!

Here’s the menu for the rest of the week, and then Saturday I’ll sit down and figure out next week’s based on my master menu and what we have in the house. Have I shared my master menu yet? It’s a way for me to do meal planning without thinking too much:

Mondays: pasta
Tuesdays: Mexican food
Wednesdays: Udon or yaki soba or ramen — basically, Asian noodle night
Thursdays: Sandwiches or burgers
Fridays: Stir-fry
Saturdays: Something with chickpea gravy (my favorite vegan food in the world)
Sundays: Whatever I feel like making

So the rest of the week looks like this:

Tuesday: Beans and Mexican rice with roasted corn and baby carrots
Wednesday: Miso broth with veggies, tofu, and noodles
Thursday: Grilled cheese and soup
Friday: Seitan stir-fry and rice or noodles
Saturday: Marble potatoes and chickpea gravy; big salad

Making my way back

This is my last week of school. I am so looking forward to having my life back, but even more, I’m looking forward to seeing what all of you are up to. Aso, I am in a clearing-the-deck kind of mood. I’m going to clean my house, sell some of my book overflow, and basically reclaim the space I have been treating like a hotel for the past two years.

First project? To see how long I can go cooking with only what’s stored up in my cupboards, with the addition of fresh produce, eggs/milk, and coffee. Should be interesting, at least to me, and it’ll be a good way to get back in the habit of daily posts. This’ll kind of be an extreme version of my Pantry Cooking Month jags.

My mom is an incredibly good pantry cook. These days, she has enough money to have overflowing pantries (seriously — it’s a problem), but when I was in my teens, we had very little money, and mom remembers the days when she fed my brothers pancakes for dinner, because that’s about all there was.

This experiment is in her honor. Love you, mom!

Food isn't love. Feeding people is love.