It is almost the end of Januworry! Now is when we look into our pantries, and use our budget constraints as a reason to “spring clean” its contents. Thinking of it as spring cleaning helps put a positive spin on it - I promise.
Now, in my experience there are two types of pantries/ food cupboards in the world. The first is the bare the one. Usually the owner of this cupboard buys as they need, or the lucky bugger eats out a lot. The contents of it, is usually one rather skeptical tin of tuna, maybe some beans, an assortment of used once spices, and a form of noodle - normally a two minute wanna be ramen, or a half used packet of spaghetti.
The second kind is on the verge of hoarding. It has things in there that the owner can’t really remember if they bought, or if it came with the house. These generally belong to coupon enthusiasts, preppers, or those who love bulk buying for the “savings”. The unfortunate truth is that buying in bulk isn’t always the best option, especially if it’s just going to sit there gathering dust, or there is only two of you in the house. But, moving on...
No matter which pantry you have. It often seems that the food options on offer don’t seem to fit into a palatable meal. Or maybe you are worried that you might have kept something for a little too long. Here’s a few tips on how to tell if it’s time to let go, and what do to with what’s usable.
Now, non-perishable foods aren't called that because they will never, ever go bad. If they aren't stored correctly they can spoil. Make sure that you are storing them in a cool, dark space, out of direct sunlight. All flours, dry beans and things that came in packets should be moved into glass, metal or plastic (airtight) containers as soon as possible.
It’s time to let go if:
- The tin is bulging;
- The tin is damaged;
- The tin is rusted (yes, I have seen this before);
- Mold is growing;
- Weevils (or any other insect) have moved in;
- It used to be liquid and now it's dry;
- It used to be solid and now it's liquid or gooey;
- It smells bad.
Now what can you do with what is left? The obvious things come to mind: beans into bean salad; tuna into a sandwich. Noodles, made with the mildly boring flavour sachet. Do I hear snoring?
Let's give is a bit of a shake up.
Instead of bean salad, why not make a bean mash to serve with a protein of your choice. Simply, drain the beans and then boil for a bit in some stock, and your favourite spices. Then mash with a bit of butter.
For get the sandwiches. Make some delicious fish cakes out from the tins of tuna. Serve with spicy mayo, and some greens. Or be crazy, pop them into a roll, top with all sorts of goodies, and have a fish burger.
Up your noodle game. Ignore the flavour sachet. Make a pot of stock (the cubes work for this); throw in some spices - star anise, cloves, cardamon, chilli, garlic and ginger. Add in lime or lemon juice. Add in soy sauce. fish sauce, rice vinegar. And boom, you got a good base for a bowl of short-cut pho. For the protein you can use that odd can of tinned chicken, or cubed bully beef (corned beef). Nom nom nom.
Another option for that bully beef is pasta sauces! Add it into an arrabiata sauce as a replacement for bacon. Or if you are super adventurous in the kitchen, I have made ravioli stuffed with bully beef before - it was scrumptious, and no one guessed that it was bully beef stuffing.
Dessert is easy from pantry stocks. Add a quarter cup of peanut butter to the chocolate cake box mix, bake in a brownie tin, and you have yourself peanut butter brownies. Use caramel treat as muffin filling, or mix into simple cookie dough for caramel cookies.
Well, well, the end of Januworry is starting to sound rather delicious. Let me know what your favourite pantry hack is.
The Gourmet Hippo