A few days ago, I was searching my pantry shelves for a can of garbanzo beans to add to a pot of homemade vegetable soup, only to discover two things—my pantry has become very disorganized, and I didn’t have any garbanzo beans. Being a big fan of the “make do with what you have” philosophy, I grabbed a can of great northern beans only to discover that I had purchased it in 1999. Yes, I am talking about FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, 1999. Needless to say, that can of beans went into the trash bin and not into my soup. It broke my heart to have to throw it away, but my family’s health was more important to me than a dollar or two. Fortunately, there were some more recent cans on the shelf, so the vegetable soup got its beans. This points out three common problems with food storage–buying too much of something that you don’t eat that often, not having the items organized so that you can see what you have, and not rotating your food to keep the most recent purchases toward the back. Obviously, I need to take everything out of the canned goods cabinet and re-organize. Hopefully, there won’t be anymore 15 year old surprises.
When we store food, the ideal is to store food that we like eating, and there should be enough variety that these food stores will provide adequate nourishment for our bodies, and it should be used before it spoils. We should be drawing upon our stored foods on a regular basis to prepare our daily meals and replacing the items we use as we go. This rotation keeps the food fresh so that it will have the best taste and highest nutrient content. Sometimes, when I watch those TV shows where people have basements full of food items, and do super coupon shopping, I wonder how much of that food gets eaten before it spoils. Don’t get me wrong–I am impressed by their commitment and ability to use coupons to save money, but it’s not something I have the time or energy to do. I just wonder how much of these stockpiles of food may spoil before being used. Spoiled food is money wasted. It really is just like Grandma used to say, “Waste not, want not.”
If you’re interested in learning to save money using coupons, I am not the person to advise you. Instead, check out Jill Cataldo, who’s busy changing the way you shop forever, or visit we use coupons, where they coupon because money doesn’t grow on trees. Just remember as you shop, buy what you’ll eat, and eat what you store.
HOMEWORK: For the next two weeks, keep track of the meals you cook as well as when you eat out. When you eat out, write down why you did so. For example, I might write “Got off work later than planned.” “Too late to cook” or “Too tired to cook.” We’ll put that list to good use in a couple of weeks to help you plan your pantry.
NEXT WEEK: Save 10% to 40% on your Groceries without coupons.
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