Pantry Raid!!

This is a guest post from Sheryl (a.k.a Cdn Gwen) in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.

One area I’m still guilty of overspending compulsive spending is groceries.  I think that in my past, I could justify “retail therapy” if it was something that would benefit my family, and not go to waste.  Effectively what I’ve done is tricked myself into thinking I’ve tamed the spending beast.  The more I’ve been watching what I spend money on, the more I feel I’m getting this under control, and I know I can only fight one big beast at a time.

I feel I’m ready to set a small challenge to myself.  In my food stock, I have several odd ingredients that have accumulated from different sources.  Sometimes I see a recipe I’d like to try (and then don’t get to it ) that has a random thing in it that I have to purchase (and if I see it on sale, I’ll buy two, such as coconut milk or curry paste), or a friend will be clearing out her cupboard and offer me things she hasn’t used and doesn’t think she will (four graham crumb crusts), or my daughter, the vegan, will come for dinner and bring sauces which we will use only half of and leave them here (black bean and garlic sauce, tapenade, mushroom stir fry oil), or my boyfriend will go shopping and buy something he thought was something else (frozen Chinese steam buns instead of wontons).  Time to use these up.

My challenge for myself for the month of March is to use all all the odd foods in my pantry.  Some will just be a matter of making sure I use them (Chinese steam buns, stir fry sauces), others I’ll have to make an effort to make something with (graham cracker crusts = cheesecake = not good for my weight loss challenge at work, but at least my boyfriend loves cheesecake).  The biggest challenge I see is finding a use for the coconut milk and the tapenade.

Anyone have any suggestions how to use these items?  What are your odd foods in your food stock?

11 thoughts on “Pantry Raid!!”

  1. Mmm, now you are giving me ideas to do my yearly purge of my pantry.

    By the way, try mixing coconut milk with curry as a sauce to a stir fry. Serve over rice. Or Google some Thai recipes to find similar ways to use it up.

    Good luck,

  2. Thai red coconut chicken curry is a great meal (I add pineapple to mine)

    Re: pantry overload
    -I keep a list on a notepad on the inside of the pantry door to remind myself whats in there (came about as a direct result of having 4 jars of peanut butter… I just kept buying them on sale forgetting I had a 5 year supply already)
    -I recently transferred this list to a google doc (accessible from my smartphone) so that when I am out shopping I can check the list to make sure I’m not buying duplicates

  3. The coconut milk makes a yummy vegetable curry – use Pataks if you don’t have a favorite recipe. Because the coconut is so rich, I don’t usually use meat in those recipes.

    Tapenade (personally, I don’t like olives) can usually just be served on crackers or toast, or a couple of spoonfuls can be used to dress hot cooked noodles.

  4. Whenever I need inspiration, I go to You can list the ingredients you have and the ingredients you don’t want and the perfect recipe will pop up. I call it “iron chef” my pantry! My favourite recipe is everything but the kitchen sink BBQ marinade. Throw everything in the fridge in a blender and marinade the chicken wings overnight, put it on the grill —- AMAZING! Problem is that the taste can never be replicated again.

  5. Thai Coconut Chicken spice mix by Club House. You simply add chicken and coconut milk. Serve over rice for a great meal.

  6. try adding some coconut milk into smoothies for that tropical taste….mmmmm
    I have recently, and quite sadly, become allergic to gluten –yummy, yummy gluten..and so many of my pantry items have to be eaten by hubby or given away. So sad….
    besides that I am being very good about eating up what I buy–but I do keep some items for emergencies..big bag of rice so that we can play survivor if there ever is an earthquake or some other disaster…

  7. I used to feel bad about my pantry bloat, but like you, it’s a form of retail therapy – AND I’m a heck of a versatile cook because of it. But once every year or so, I have to have a “buy minimal groceries” month just to lose the pantry and freezer “weight”. It keeps my grocery cost down lower than anybody else I know of either online or off – and it means I can always come up with something cool to make.
    I second the allrecipes recommendation, I use it all the time.

  8. Thank you for all you input, It has been very helpful. So far, I’ve used about half of my odd items.

    Randomly I will have a “eat things up” time, but the odd things get missed.

    I have been a reasonably frugal grocery shopper for as long as I can remember, mostly using fresh ingredients and limiting packaged and processed foods. The items I use on a regular basis I have no trouble keeping fresh in rotation. Sometimes I just get lazy when I’ve had enough of a certain food for a while, I’ll drift away from it and need a nudge to finish it up.

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