Thursday, May 9, 2013

Taking Stock

So, as part of this $21 grocery challenge you're supposed to take stock of all the food you have in the house.

This was not something I was looking forward to, but EK inspired me with her very through pantry and freezer inventories, so I decided to give it a go. I fear I'm not quite as thorough as she is, but here's what I came up with.

I basically think that fruit, eggs and salad veggies for dinners w/CatMan are gonna be the priorities for spending my tiny budget. So far this month I've spent $3.87 and that got me 3 cucumbers, 8 oranges & 4 onions

So without further ado... here's what I've got to eat!

Leftovers & ready to eat
Roasted Chicken w/Root Veggies - Frozen 6 servings
2 mini lasagnas (reserved for dinners with CatMan)
Soup - Frozen 6 servings - 2 each of veggie, chicken & pumpkin corn chowder
Soup - Fresh 1 serving of chicken  and one of pumpkin pie soup
1 piece of roasted chicken - fridge
half a serving of broiled salmon - fridge
5 sushi rolls (well... sashimi technically - I'm NOT eating raw fish!)
1 serving Wakame & cucumber salad
1 serving Mexican Rice & Beans (actually, not anymore - I scarfed this down while finishing this post!)

Bread etc
Pumpkin, Zucchini & Banana Bread - Frozen 8 loaves
Multi-Grain Tortillas - Frozen 1 lb
Multi-Grain Bread - Frozen 3 loaves (I can't actually eat this because of allergies - it's for CatMan)
1 piece of cornbread in the fridge

4 eggs
2 lbs powdered milk
10 oz powdered goat's milk
2 lbs shredded parmesan/romano - Frozen (not eager to use this up - it's for lasagna night with CatMan)
1 lb grated parmesan - Frozen (also not eager to use up - see above)
5 lbs grated mozzarella - Frozen (also not eager to use up - see above)
24 oz various deli cheeses - Frozen
2.5 lbs cream cheese (also not eager to use up - see above)

Meat & Fish
20 lbs chicken leg quarters - frozen
2 lbs sea scallops - frozen
12 oz Pollock - Frozen
1.5 lbs Salmon - frozen
Salmon - Canned 14.75 oz
Tuna - 11 cans

Edamame - Frozen 12 oz
Spinach - Frozen 26 oz
Mixed Veggies - Frozen 12 oz
Green Beans - Frozen 2 lbs
Cauliflower - Frozen 24 oz (reserved for dinners w/CatMan)
Stir Fry Veggies - Frozen 5.5 lbs
Green Chilies - Whole - Frozen 1 lb
Green Chilies - Chopped - Frozen 30 oz
Corn - Frozen - 6 oz
Pumpkin Puree - Frozen 3.5 gallons (Oy!)
3 Spaghetti Squash - fresh
6 Pie Pumpkins - fresh
4 Acorn Squash - fresh (oooo I might be able to get CatMan to eat some of this)
1 lb Basil - Frozen (is this a veggie or a spice?)
Tomato Paste - 1 - 6 oz can
Stewed Tomatoes - Canned 1.5 lbs
Mushrooms - Canned 10 oz (reserved for CatMan lasagna)
Black Olives - Canned 4 - 10 oz cans plus half a can in the fridge
Dried Wakame (seaweed) 1 oz
4.5 large onions
1 Cucumber
half a red pepper
half a head of lettuce
Sweet Potato - Canned 6 oz (technically this is cat food - you're supposed to add it to their food to prevent constipation - but the vet & I decided that fiber wasn't working for Sputnik, and the only ingredient is sweet potato... so I'm thinkin' I'll probably just eat it.)

3 apples
11 oranges
Cranberries - Frozen 12 oz
Pineapple Juice concentrate - Frozen 10 oz
Lemon Juice 1.5 quarts
Lime Juice 8 oz

Packaged Foods (mostly leftover from last time I was sick)
1 can tomato soup
1 box mac & cheese
1 26 oz can of Spaghettios
1 serving protein shake mix (found in the back of the cabinet)

Grains & Pasta
Oatmeal .5 lbs
Quinoa 3 lbs
Barley 4 oz
Millet 4 oz
White Rice 12 oz
Brown Rice 14 lbs (Oy!)
Pasta - various kinds  9 lbs

Brown Lentils - Dry 2.5 lbs
Green Lentils - Dry 3 lbs
Yellow Split Peas - Dry 6 oz
Kidney Beans - Dry 2.5 lbs
Black Beans - Dry 1.5 lbs
Pinto Beans - Dry 12 lbs (Oy!)
Pinto Beans - Canned 3 lbs (apparently because 12 lbs of dry pintos wasn't enough?)
Soy Beans 1.5 lbs - Ancient... may not be good
Textured Vegetable Protein - 1 gallon (not technically a bean, but I wasn't sure where to put it it's basically soy protein.)

Nuts & Seeds
Peanut Butter 2 lbs
Pepitas 2 lbs (usually use to make pumpkin/zucchini bread)
Flax seeds 2 lbs
Water Chestnuts - canned - 6 oz.

Sauces & Condiments
Alfredo Sauce - 15 oz
Marinara Sauce (homemade) - Frozen 4 jars (not eager to use up - reserved for making CatMan lasagna)
Mayo - 40 oz
Mustard - 30 oz
Ketchup - 5 oz
Steak Sauce - 5 oz
Cooking Sherry 10 oz
Balsamic Vinegar 1.5 liters
Rice Wine 1 liter
Rice Vinegar 10 oz
Soy & stir fry sauces, various. about 20 oz total

Olive Oil - 2 liters
Canola Oil - 1 liter
Grapeseed Oil - 12 oz
Seasoned Stir-Fry Oil - 5 oz
Peanut Oil - 6 oz
Coconut Oil - 5 oz
Butter - 4.25 lbs

Flours/Meals & Other baking stuff
Whole Wheat Flour 2 lbs
All Purpose Flour 4.5 lbs
Corn Meal 4.5 lbs
Graham Flour 1 lb (might not be good - has been in the freezer a few years)
Fice Flour 1 lb (might not be good - been in the freezer a while)
Soy Flour 1 lb (been in the fridge a while - need to taste it to see if it's OK)
Corn Starch .5 lb
Potato Starch 1.5 lbs
Baking Powder 1 lb
Baking Soda 15 lbs (used mostly for cleaning)
Vanilla - plenty

Granulated sugar 5 lbs
Brown sugar 1 lb
Powdered sugar 2.5 lbs
Splenda 6 oz (why do I have this?)
Molasses 6 oz
Honey 2 lbs
Karo Syrup 6 oz (this is from the neolithic era - does this stuff go bad?)
Maple Syrup 6 oz
Various sugar sprinkles

Coffee, Tea etc.
Cocoa Powder 9 oz
Ground Coffee 10 oz
Instant Decaf Coffee 4 oz
Postum Coffee Substitute 8 oz
Green Tea 13 bags
Green Tea Decaf 22 bags
Black Tea 21 bags
Peppermint Tea 12 bags
Jasmine Tea 10 oz

I am WAY too lazy to inventory these! Suffice it to say I have plenty of everything that I'm not allergic to

Miso - 5 oz
Nutritional Yeast - 3 oz
Chicken Stock - homemade - frozen - 3 gallons
Powdered Dashi (Japanese instant soup stock made with seaweed & dried bonito) 3 oz
Popcorn - .5 Gallon of unpopped kernels

Maybe a few leaves of spinach and/or peas by the end of the month

OK... that's it! Whew!

So waddya think?

I'm pleasantly surprised by the amount of veggies that I have on hand, but dismayed by the fruit tally. Being on "fruit probation" is definitely the hardest part of this for me since I usually eat about 4 servings of fruit per day. I'm trying to ration it to one or two servings, but I really, REALLY miss it!

Well... hopefully there will be some more bargains in that department next week! Anybody else got suggestions for dealing with my fruit cravings?


  1. My, oh my. After reading what you, Kale, and Lili have on hand, I feel as if we have no food in this house to eat.

    As for the fruit, I would stock up on those cheap oranges.

    1. Ha! Well, you should try this little exercise. It's rather eye-opening!

      Alas, the oranges are not quite such a good deal this week, but maybe they'll be better next week!

  2. Yeah, I was thinking your fruit looked a little lean, for you. But the rest looks quite good, a good variety, produce in all colors, grains, proteins, dairy. When you are in a store, don't forget to check the produce section for a markdown shelf. I find bananas for 39 cents/lb designated as baking bananas, but they are usually just right for eating for a couple of days.

    Last month, when I was trying to use up stuff in our overstuffed freezers, I did make allowance for as much milk as we might need. Maybe fruit will have to be the same for you. These exercises are really not good ones if we compromise our health or happiness in the process. Your body needs what it needs!

    1. Oh, don't forget you can use the peels on the oranges, in candied orange peel, in orange zest to add to your frozen cranberries or squash for flavor, or even just flavoring a pitcher of water.

    2. A few weeks ago I found bananas for 39 cents a pound! Unfortunately I ate them all rather quickly! I'll have to see what I can find for cheap.

      That's a great idea about the orange peel. These aren't organic oranges... do you suppose it's safe? I suppose I could scrub it pretty good before using it...

      At the moment I'm exploring recipes for pumpkin preserves and lemon sauce... that would sorta taste like fruit wouldn't it? :-)

  3. I've heard oranges, apples, and bananas are usually the cheapest fresh fruit, and you already know about dollar store frozen fruit. It's summer, though, so additional things may be in season cheap. There may also be foraging--any parks with fruit trees or bushes? Or neighbors with too much (you may even have some fresh home-grown produce of your own to trade)?

    Your list is huge and amazing! My list would also be huge, but quite different. If I were trying to live mostly on just what I already have, I would spend a lot of my money on milk. I'd also use up a bunch of staples that I'd just have to re-buy next month (I always have the makings for spaghetti, chili, taco soup, and spinach artichoke heart pasta.) I also have a few quick back-up foods like macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles. Then I'd start seeing what I could put together out of less commonly used staples, like lasagna noodles for which I don't have enough cheeses, And sweet potatoes (I like to just take a few out of the can, mash them up in a bowl and microwave them--the canned ones are sitting in sugar water, so they really don't need additional brown sugar or marshmallows or whatever). So I might start creating things like sweet potato lasagna-noodle roll-ups.

    It sounds like one good lesson you'll learn all this month is which kinds of things you no longer need to keep your house stocked with. Like, perhaps, soy beans.

    1. Ha! What on earth was I thinking when I bought those soybeans! I can't actually remember when I bought them... I'm kinda thinking that they might be good candidates for the compost bin.

      I'm chuckling at the idea of foraging for fruit. Not that it's a bad idea, just that the trees here don't even have any leaves on them yet, let alone fruit!

      I'm hoping there will be some good sales next week and maybe I can pick up a few things. Watermelons are starting to arrive in the stores, so maybe I can find one that's not too big... We'll see.

    2. There is one fruit-like plant that you might be able to forage at this time of year, and that's Japanese knotweed, which tastes just like rhubarb. The main difficulty is that it's such an invasive weed that you have to be very careful to check no-one's put weedkiller on it. You also have to be very careful not to propagate it. It can grow a new plant from even a tiny scrap, so you have to be very careful to destroy any that you pick and don't eat.

    3. Why am I not surprised that you would know which plants can be foraged this time of year?

      I did a bit of reading and it looks like Japanese knotweed has only started appearing here in Colorado within the last year or two. The state has apparently designated it as a "list A" species, meaning that it is required to be destroyed by state statute. Hmmmm... that doesn't bode well for foraging.

      Besides, in all honesty, if it tastes anything like rhubarb, I think I'd rather be tarred and feathered! Once, as a small child, some friends and I got into their mother's garden and ate some rhubarb. I think I must have eaten some of the leaves, because I spent the next week puking my guts out, and haven't been able to stomach the idea of rhubarb since!

    4. Aww, too bad your weather is so crazy, I was going to suggest foraging as well. If I didn't have such a fancy for expensive green apples, I could probably survive on free mangoes, oranges and jabuticabas. Yum!

      Never ate rhubarb... I'm kinda scared of foods with poisonous parts, or the ones that may carry dangerous bacteria. I love heart of palm (such a weird name in English!) but never eat it outside home, as it may carry the botulism bacteria; also, you never know if the restaurant uses the sustainable or the illegal wild harvested kind.

    5. Gosh... free mangoes?!? Around here mangoes are a VERY expensive delicacy! Oh, to live in a tropical paradise, or at least some place where water actually falls from the sky on a fairly regular basis.

      Actually, we seem to have moved squarely into spring weather now. We've already had three hail storms this week. Oy! Fortunately nothing bigger than marbles, so not too much damage to the garden!

    6. Maybe I should make a living exporting mangoes, then? They're literally everywhere around here. No self respecting old lady has a backyard without a mango tree.

      Hail storms! It's been years since I've last seen one. Sometimes I wish for more weather variation (snooow!), but our perpetual summer means there's always fruit and flowers somewhere! Ipê trees are known for blooming in the verge of winter.

    7. Mangoes everywhere... reminds me of stories my father used to tell about living in Hawaii and how bananas and coconuts were just everywhere. Sigh.

  4. Ok, now I feel like we never have food in the house, even after hitting the store. But then we don't cook a whole lot. You must have an extra freezer besides the one with your fridge, right?

    Also, not to be flippant, but if you are really missing/craving fruit, I would just buy more. Screw the challenge. But I guess I'm not much on the extreme ones. :)

    1. You must be one of those sane people who doesn't hoard food! And yes, I do have a chest freezer in addition to the one on top of the fridge. It's in desperate need of defrosting, which is part of my motivation for taking on this little challenge.

      And I will definitely go buy more fruit, but truth be told, I could blow past the $21 budget in one week on fruit alone if left to my own devices. Maybe being born in the tropics has influenced this, but I think I could live on fruit alone if given the opportunity!

      Anyhow, we'll see how I do. I'm currently trying to think of things I can do with lemon juice that might have a "fruity" feel to them.

  5. You have a striking amount of cheese and pumpkin :) I don't think I could cut back on fruit, though.

    1. Ha! Ya think? With the cheese there is actually method to my madness. I use a lot of parmesan, mozzarella & cream cheese to make lasagna each week since it's CatMan's favorite meal, so I buy it in bulk at either Costco or the salvage grocery store because it's MUCH cheaper that way.

      The pumpkins, on the other hand. I fear this is what happens when you don't compost thoroughly, and are too much of a bleeding heart to pull out the volunteer pumpkin plants!

  6. I'm having the same problem you had with my list - I have no idea what the quantities mean :) I know 2lb is about 1kg but have no idea about oz.

    It sounds like you have a good mix of stuff though - it's great to see how much you have frozen and how organised you are about it. I tend to just stuff things in there willy-nilly and forget about them, rather than say, actually thinking about the best way to freeze them!

    I don't know if this will work for you, but I eat carrots a lot of the time when I want something sweet. Maybe that could work as a fruit substitute (but only if they're cheaper).

    1. Oh the joys of different measuring systems! It looks like 500ml is about 17 oz.

      I'm totally laughing at the idea of my frozen stuff being "organized." Umm... maybe my list was organized, but my freezers certainly aren't! Literally, stuff was falling on the floor as I was taking this inventory!

      And carrots would be a wonderful suggestion if I weren't allergic to them. Actually, I can eat them in small amounts, but only if they're thoroughly cooked. Sigh.

  7. Wow that's a lot of food! :)

    When I have my own home, I'm planning on having an empty fridge at the end of every week, bar like condiments that will last a couple of weeks. And my pantry will be just pasta, rice, tea bags and loads of fruit! Probably because if I were to inventory everything in my parents' house, it'd make your list look minuscule! (my parents won't admit it, but they're serious food hoarders!)

    1. I don't think I'd like to have a completely empty fridge each week, because then I'd feel locked into a certain shopping schedule. There's something very liberating about only having to shop when you want to, or when there's a good sale.

      Of course, ahem, one can take this to extremes! I think what I'm aiming for is a better balance!

    2. Well I suppose that makes sense! Me however, I'm a creature of habit and I like to know on what day I will be doing certain things. To an extent obviously. Grocery shopping is something that is done religiously on a Thursday night in my household, and I love that sense of routine. Although I could be travelling the world and in a different place every week, but my grocery shopping will still be done on the same day every week!

      I think inventorying your food is a really good way to aim for balance. I would call myself a minimalist, and I've taken note of how many possessions I have - having a number allows me to try to do better and only keep the things I really need. So I fully approve of your methods! :P

    3. A stamp of approval from an actual minimalist! I doubt I'll ever be able to call myself a "minimalist" without those around me breaking into a raucous laughter. I'm just aiming to get out of the "maximalist" category! :-)

    4. Hey, it's not the life for everyone! I can do it now because I'm a 20 year old student living with my parents. Ask me again in 10 years time and see how things are going then!

      You'd be surprised what you could do though, I thought the same thing about calling myself a minimalist, but then the more I got rid of, the less I needed. Anything is possible!

  8. Your stock of beans is similar to mine, but where you go overboard on the pinto beans mine would be split peas and black beans. Fruit is something in craving as I both need to shop and I won't buy certain fruits at the store. After having them fresh from a garden makes the rest taste like sour cardboard. I found my strawberry plants covered in flowers this week, I know if it were warmer I would be savoring fresh ones any day which isn't helping me in the least.

    Not sure what I would do to satisfy the fruit cravings. I replaced my sugar cravings with fruit, but I don't recommend doing the opposite.😉

    1. Well... the pintos are from when I decided that it would be a good idea to buy a 25lb bag of them. Oy! Won't be doing that again!

      I finally splurged on the fruit today and bought a big watermelon. They were on sale for $3 each. Hopefully, I'll be able to make it last a while!


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