By Louise Ure
The ‘Rati troops seem to have been fairly consumed with food issues these last few weeks. Rob wrote about his Post-Hawaii Diet. Cornelia sang the praises of “Lobster Pie” at the Maine Diner (and gave an even earlier shout out to a “Lobster Prozac” recipe). Alafair, in yesterday’s post, bemoaned the temporary loss of her favorite lunch at Otto’s Enoteca Pizzeria in NYC.
I’m continuing the theme today with my own new diet plan: don’t buy any food.
Times are tough, we hear on the news. Folks are going out to dinner less often and packing their own lunch for the office. That’s all good advice, but many of us stopped going out long ago and making my own lunch is nothing new.
Ergo my new calorie and cost saving diet: stop buying food.
With three exceptions (milk, eggs and bread), I’m not going to buy any groceries until I’ve cleaned out the freezer and the pantry.
Now I’m not one of those folks with a full-size freezer stocked with venison and a whole flock of chickens. The stuff that’s in the freezer is there because I didn’t want it before. Some of it is so old that I can’t tell what it is. Animal? Vegetable? Mineral? I’ll take my chances.
And the can-laden shelves in the garage are not “earthquake supplies,” as contractor I hired so graciously suggested. Oh no, that’s mini-Costco. One thing I’ve learned in hindsight: I should never have sent Bruce to Costco when he was hungry. He invariably came home with a case of kidney beans or a gross of cans of tuna. Or both. I have enough cranberry juice on the shelves downstairs to cure a sub-continent of scurvy.
At first it was fun and full of variety. There was shrimp in the freezer. And steak. Frozen haricots vert and corn. The supplies dwindled as my favorites disappeared. And my names for each of these recipes changed. Soon I was eating “Home Alone Macaroni and Cheese” and “Assisted Living Chicken,” which is probably not what the folks at Stouffers would have called that breaded chicken cutlet.
There’s “Party of One Smoked Oysters” (and why did Bruce ever think we’d need fifty cans of it?) and “Thousand Year Old Pot Stickers.” I need about twenty new recipes to use up all the cans of water chestnuts and little bottles of clam juice.
Tamales have their own pride of place as my relatives think they are the Arizona equivalent of a covered dish brought home after a funeral. I had four dozen at last count and that’s about 48 meals-worth.
There’s a pecking order to my choices, of course. I’ll use the butter up first and then move along to the olive oil. When that’s gone, I’ll resort to the vegetable oil, the peanut oil and finally to that least-favorite-of-all-the-lipids, PAM spray. If I break out the lard, you’ll know I’m close to the end.
The coffee will go first and then I’ll attack those half-dozen, half-filled boxes of tea bags. And I don’t even like tea.
I have enough pasta to live through any amount of time in a bomb shelter and enough brown rice to start my own commune.
Desserts will prove challenging, although I still have a jar of applesauce, and a box of popsicles. Of course, there are all those boxes of Jello pudding and the Peeps from last Easter on the top shelf of the cupboard.
Sometimes when I’m putting together a meal I feel like one of those chefs opening a basket on “Chopped.” Anchovies. Dried apricots. Bush’s Baked Beans. Count Chocula cereal. “You must use all of these ingredients in your final dish.”
What about you guys? If you had one of those “No Way I’m Going to the Grocery Store” days, what would you pull out of your pantry for a meal?
Oh, and I may add one more ingredient to that “must buy” list. Wine. I think I’m going to need it.