August 11, 2010

Update—Two Week Eat from the Pantry Challenge

Our family is now more than half way through the challenge that I set for us last Monday.  All-in-all, we are doing pretty well, but I’m going to publicly admit that I did go to the store and buy something for us on Tuesday.  *Cue gasps from the reading audience*  After the Holistic Moms Network meeting, I was passing by Earth Fare and decided to take advantage of the 10 ears of corn for $1 coupon so that I could have some corn in my freezer.  I had all sorts of reasons that I rationalized, and I’m not in the least bit sorry.  Thus far, I’ve spent a negligible amount of money in August with the only purchase being that corn.  

What have I learned from the challenge?

  • Having eggs in the refrigerator is so very, very nice.  While I haven’t been able to get my hands on many local eggs lately because of the heat, I did catch some sales and stock up on store bought eggs the week before the challenge started.  We’ve eaten much better than we would have without eggs.  Even though I know tricks and substitutions for eggs in baking recipes, I haven’t found a substitution that works for me in place of a boiled egg, egg over easy, or omelet.  As far as self sustainability goes, I am hoping to have some laying hens in our yard by this time next year if the city government will kick it into gear for us. 
  • Having milk and milk substitutions brings a sense of normalcy.  Because of having eggs and milk on hand, our daughter probably hasn’t even noticed that we are doing anything differently.  Canned milk and dried milk works great in recipes, and some people say that they can’t tell a different in it and regular milk.  I can, but I’d be happy to use it in the event of an emergency.
  • Baking bread.  Why is it that I’m so darn resistant to baking bread?  It took our daughter and me about 5 whole minutes to put the ingredients in the bread maker.  Mind you, this is including the time that it took to mill the wheat in the grain mill so if you are using store bought flour the time would be even less than that.  We had fresh, delicious bread in another 3 hours with no more hands on work by me.  It was fantastic and the entire house smelled marvelous.  I have made homemade biscuits a few times during this challenge, and again, they aren’t much work.  The result is delicious.  What is my hang-up then, you ask?  Sandwiches.  I’m spoiled to soft whole wheat bread for my sandwiches.  While our bread and biscuits were delicious, they just weren’t store bought bread.  My friend Jessica who first introduced me to the wonderful world of grain mills makes a homemade bread that is fantastic, soft, and has the best of both worlds—store bought texture and homemade taste.  Her recipe has a handful more ingredients than my recipe does and it requires a lot more hands on attention.  It just isn’t a priority enough for me to go to that much trouble for this particular food.  So, what can I do about this?  I am going to try the 5 minute bread recipe whole wheat version to see if it offers any more of the qualities of store bought without the time and attention.  If that doesn’t work then I’ll continue to buy store bought bread unless I need to make it at home.  As I’m typing this I’m reminded of the many pages that Laura Ingalls Wilder dedicates to talking about grinding wheat in a coffee mill and baking it to sustain them during the very long, very cold winter. 
  • Bartering and friends are wonderful.  We have had some very special treats these last few weeks because of friends and bartering.   I helped pick the church garden and put up food from it for the children’s program to use this fall.  One of the ladies encouraged me to use some of the food for us, and therefore we had okra and tomatoes one night for part of our supper and cherry tomatoes to use throughout the week.  A friend shared some paw paw fruit from her trees with us, and I’ll in turn share some of our passionfruit with her when they are ready to eat.
  • Communal eating is terrific.  I had a couple of potlucks at church for different meetings.  We ate lunch at my dad’s place one day and brought him vegetables from the garden to share.  Dining with others allows you to have a greater variety of foods and it shares the cost and work of preparing the full meal. 
  • Coupons are great.  I used my free coupon for a limeade sparkler at Taco Bell the other day ($0 OOP) and it was the perfect treat.  Tomorrow we are meeting friends at Chick-fil-a to play where it is cool, and I have a couple of free after coupons for there.   I recently saw on a blog that her out of pocket expense for one month’s food was a negative amount because of moneymakers at stores.   Maybe next time I do one of these challenges, I’ll get that ambitious, but for now the little freebies along the way keep me going.

We’ll keep chugging along until Monday.  I doubt I’ll rush out and buy a ton of stuff then, but rest assured, I’ll be buying bread. 

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