The Challenge: Taking Inventory

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Since I announced that I going to see how long I could last without going to the grocery store I have been getting a lot of questions about how I get ready for this. What did I buy? How do I decide what I’ll need? What about perishables like dairy foods?

First, this is not about stockpiling food. It is more about using what I already have. I canned, dried and froze a lot of foods when they were in season. I am glad that I did. It fits in with my philosophy that we have to waste less food. By preserving seasonal foods I can enjoy them year round. It also enables me to eat more local food. There aren’t too many fresh veggies in Ohio in the winter. I will be enjoying Ohio tomatoes, apples, corn, broccoli and more this winter.

Second, I have a pretty good amount of stuff in my pantry already. When I get home from the store, like most people, I just unpack the food right into my cupboard. I don’t bother to pull old stuff forward every time. What that creates is a pantry with new things getting used first and older foods lingering in the back. I am not above the occasional impulse purchase so I have some foods in there I might never have used before, but they looked like fun at the time.

I like to use the New Year as a time to take inventory. Not just the personal inventory that a new year  inspires but a more literal inventory of what I have. I think we all should do this at least once a year. Go through all the foods we purchase and store and can and see what we have already.

I started by defrosting my freezer a few weeks ago. I sorted the shelves by proteins, fruits and veggies and prepared foods. There are always a few surprises when I do this. I try to keep a ledger of what is in there and mark what is added and then removed so I know what I have. Still I find that several weeks or months into this process I get busy or distracted and start to lose track.  At least my list now is pretty up to date.

I  went through my kitchen cupboards and took everything out. I checked dates on cans and boxes and made sure to pull out anything that needed to be used soonest. Found some fun ingredients I will be sure to use in the next weeks and months.

I thought about staple foods that I didn’t want to run out of. I made a list and picked up flour, butter, eggs and more. The idea was not to go crazy and get a 10 year supply of flour but rather to be sure I had enough food for the next few months and that I had options.

I went in the basement  and did a quick count of home canned foods. Just an idea of how many jars I have. I still have to finish sorting them so I use older jars first. I always date the jars so I’ll know. It’s a good idea with home canned foods to check them from time to time to make sure all the jars are still sealed and look OK. I have a pretty good idea of what I have but I’ll do a complete inventory in the next few days.

So what DID I end up getting? Well, I got dry milk and canned milk to cover dairy needs. I am lactose intolerant so I don’t consume that much of it- but I do use it in cooking and still eat dairy sometimes. I also have almond milk. I got butter and eggs and some flour. Shopping with a friend for something for New Year’s Eve we ended up in Cleveland’s Chinatown so I must admit to buying a few sauces and condiments I might have not thought about. I also thought in terms of breakfast, lunch and dinner foods. I like oatmeal and oat bran for breakfast so I was sure to get more of both of those.

I also bought some fresh produce: tangerines, Romaine lettuce, carrots, cabbage and bok choy. Those won’t last me the whole time but I will enjoy them while they are here. Even though it is winter I still enjoy salads and will miss the lettuce most of all. I have some plans for some less conventional salads later on.

So that is where I am. First day of officially not going to the grocery store. Not much of a challenge yet, but my journey has just started. I’ll keep you all up on how it is going and will be posting recipes along the way. I’ll also be having friends over to eat so they may have something to say about how I am doing, too.

Natural disasters happen all the time and so many people are unprepared. As the snow falls outside my window I feel pretty good. I don’t HAVE to go out in search of food.

Thanks for all the feedback I’ve gotten already. Hope to hear more from you as this little adventure continues.





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