So, I totally admit I’ve been neglecting this blog and guess what? It’s part of my new year’s resolution – pick up my act! So, this morning, I started with my pantry clutter.
Let me start by saying that I’ve had a couple of realisations in the last year or so regarding my level of culinary expertise! When I first married my hubbie nearly 11 years ago, I could boil eggs, burnt steak and add ready-made sauce to grilled chicken. That was about the extent of my skill set. I found the whole food world completely overwhelming – I had NOOOOO idea about anything and really didn’t know where to start. But some kind soul gave me the book, “4 ingredients” and that set me on my merry way. I felt like I had conquered Mt Everest. I was cooking for my family. Hell, yeah! But then after about the 50th time of cooking a number of dishes, I figured it was time to spread my wings a little further. I bought a couple of new recipe books (some worked for me, some were too ambitious), I googled simple healthy recipes and I asked friends for their faves. Slowly I built my confidence to the point where even my family members were impressed.
But (& here’s the rub), over the last 10 years, I’ve learnt that 1) I’m not a natural cook, 2) while I’m creative in other areas cooking is not one of them, 3) I’m no foodie so am not that interested in spending time tracking down the best truffles or watch every cooking show on the planet. For me it’s got to be fresh, easy, tasty (of course!) and kid-friendly.
And, looking at my life, I spend time with my family and I work pretty hard. I read every night (sometimes just one page) and I exercise 3-4 times a week. I’m also fascinated by clutter, so I’m always experimenting with ways of getting rid of stuff (and stopping more stuff come into the home). If I have spare time (bahahaha!!), I love drawing and painting. Once every blue moon I feel overwhelmed by the desire to spend a whole day whisking up gastronomic delights – which just means a dirty kitchen and unimpressed kids. So, at this stage in my life, exploring the culinary world is not for me. On top of all that, I find shopping for food a total chore. I do a meal plan for each week, and I shop for that. I don’t really go off message in that respect – which is great as it also means alot less waste!
So what does all of that mean for me?
Well, here are the 5 lessons I’ve learnt about myself which can help keep my pantry clutter at bay:
- there’s no point buying bulk sized packages of anything (maybe with the exception of rice??!!). Yes, I may save 2c but it’s just going to annoy the crap out of me every single time I open my pantry doors! That is not worth 2c!!
- there’s no point buying specialty ingredients. I have admitted to myself, that I will never learn Indian or Moroccan cooking, so why buy all the spices to only be used once or twice EVER! They will just take up valuable room in my pantry making me feel guilty. To hell with you, spices!! Besides, I live in Glebe (Sydney), so there are like a gazillion great restaurants of all cultural origins within spitting distance (not that I spit!), so if I feel like a fab Thai dinner, well, I’ll just go get it!
- if I do buy something a tad unusual (for me, that is), such as black rice, poppy seeds or saffron, I have committed to buying small quantities and using it at least once a week to get rid of it all. Then I can move onto something new (which will impress the hell out of…well…just me, really). That way, I won’t have container upon container of half used stuff crowing my pantry. Also, there are so many amazing recipes out there that use basic ingredients that we almost always have on hand. I find this a sauce (get it??) of fascination and inspiration!!
- we all (as a society…not just our household) need to eat less. Actually, we need to consume less of everything. So, I’ve been making less of stuff which means less waste (& we don’t get sick of leftovers!). I get less meat, eat more fruit and veg and we’re buying way less processed stuff. We’re drinking more water (even the kids) and that all means less bottles of stuff needing to be stored. I have 1 small lolly jar for the family. This cutting down makes me feel better both in terms of health and because there’s less packaging going to land fill.
- I make sure my family finishes stuff before opening a new packet of anything. I drives me bonkers if someone opens a new packet of biscuits if there’s already one open. Arrgghhh…..but that’s probably just a quirk of mine.
Anyway, with those simple few lessons in mind, I attacked my pantry clutter today. I chucked out a whole heap of stuff that was past its expiry date or too ‘specialty’ for me. Wiped it all down (including wiping all the containers). Made a cuppa and stood back to admire my work – a lovely, uncluttered, orderly pantry.
My job here is done *sighs*