I should say at the outset, that I totally underestimated how much dried goods I had in my cupboards. I have, for example, an awful lot of lentils. And lentils, as you’ll know if you’ve ever cooked with them outside of soup go a long way. It’s one of my favourite things about lentils, that a few ounces of dried lentils will transform into a big pot of dal that will feed me all week. Which is great, especially at the end of the month, when you need to make things stretch that wee bit further. When its not great is when you’re trying to cook up your cupboards and you cook a few things with lentils, they stretch far enough that you’re sick of the sight of the darn things and you still have lots of them left.
I’ll not talk about the two recipes I made from my recipe book – I’ll save them for their monthly post – though one of them was picked specifically as a cookup recipe. But other than that I did actually do quite a bit of cooking this month. There was lots of soup, curry, pies and Mexican food. I actually kept to my challenge quite strictly, and the purpose of cooking up stuff in the cupboards shaped the cooking that I did, forced me to be more adventurous and experimental to work with what I had. But frustratingly I don’t actually feel that there’s that much less in my cupboards than there was at the start of the month. I mean, realistically there is, for a start my Mexican food binge at the start of the month means that I no longer get attacked by that pack of tortilla wraps every-time I open the cupboard and I did empty out a decent number of half used packets and tubs – and most of the later were even in a good way into another recipes rather than into the food waste tub under the sink.
You would think that after the best part of two years of cooking only for myself on a day-to-day basis I would have accustomed myself to the idea that I don’t go through food as fast as I used to. But no, I still often forget that if I make a meal that the recipe says serves four, then that isn’t one meal for the family and one serving for me later in the week (or one meal for me and my mum and two servings for me later in the week if it involves chillies), its four servings for me. Which would be fine if I had a decent size freezer, but as it is I have an icebox at the top of my fridge – standard contents: pint of ice-cream, tray of ice-cubes, packet of pastry, pack of frozen quorn and some emergency veggie burgers – there’s not a lot of room for leftovers. I really need to internalise that knowledge when I’m standing in the supermarket contemplating the pulses.
Back when I was living at home with my parents, my own food cupboard was a small and tightly organised cupboard, and in order to keep things from getting forgotten about and expiring, I kept a list of my staples on the door, scoring things off as they got used up and adding them on as I bought replacements. I suspect I may need to reinstate that habit, because I this month I kept coming across things that I’d forgotten that I had – that while not yet expired were certainly getting perilously close to their dates – I do wonder what else is lurking about in there. Such is the joy of having more than one food cupboard – I now have to remember where everything is. I think I’ll be keeping up this challenge, it may not be particularly showy or dramatic but it is quite useful.