Shopping in the pantry

While I was growing up on the southeast coast of the US where hurricanes were a routine summer event, Bill was often subject to the threat of tornadoes in the midwest. With disaster a part of our psyche, we both have an ingrained “hurricane mentality” where we hoard food and drink, just in case. If the electricity goes out or the water supply becomes contaminated, we will survive, by golly! We even have a gas powered generator that will run our two refrigerators and our our two freezers if necessary. The three waist-high wine racks in the basement are always full as a back up to the gallons of water that we have stored down there as well. Although we are not zombie apocalypse people, we’re ready for them too!

The closest grocery store to us is what we call the “scratch & dent” store where they buy odd lots, open crates, imperfect items, foods soon to reach their expiry date, or other perfectly edible goods that the chain grocery stores won’t stock or don’t want to sell. Boxes of cereal for $1; big bottles of ketchup for 50 cents, salad dressings for 25 cents, on and on. Imagine the hurricane mentality set free in this place!

Realizing that we would eventually be moving, it became clear that we were going to have to start reducing this stock of food. Just as we started clearing out our shelves of household items that aren’t going with us, we’re doing the same with all of that food in the process we call “shopping the pantry”. Our weekly grocery bill has dropped to below $20 since all we’re buying now are fresh fruits and vegetables. We’ve also become a bit more inventive in this clear out. For example, we had two cans of sweetened coconut cream that normally we would have made into piña coladas.You put a can of that in the ice cream maker with some cream, toasted pecans, and toasted flaked coconut and you’ve got a winner on your hands. A jar of freezer jam that was really too runny for toast magically became a tasty dessert with that same ice cream maker. Now we have to figure out what to do with two jars of lemon grass powder. They were a bargain at 25 cents each!