Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Shopping Challenge

Part of my dry goods stockpile.

Ok. I think I have an issue with food shopping. No, not a terrible issue, but more like- I always am building up my stockpile when I see things on sale, because I'm afraid that I won't be able to find things for as good of a price when I need them. Stockpiling is good, but only when it supplements what you have, and not that you just keep adding and adding and adding to it and never using it up.

More dry goods stockpile, plus tahini
I think my stockpile has officially reached full capacity.

I have way too much food in my house.

Yesterday, after grocery shopping, I was trying to fit the food in my cupboards. There wasn't any more room.
I tried to put things in my freezer, but it was too full.

I tried to put things into the refrigerator, but it was too full.
My fridge, as of yesterday/

I had to do some serious rearranging to fit all the perishables into my freezer and fridge, and even so, there's no room for anything else in there.

Non perishables? Forget about it! I've got them coming out of the wazoo, being stored in 4 cabinets and 4 piles of things.

When I went shopping, I had the intention to buy enough food for 4 weeks. I think I have enough food for twice or three times that! I've got a lot of expenses coming up in April and we'll be bringing in less money in May. My goal is to go without really shopping until April. Can I do it? I think I just might be able to do that!

What do I have to work with?



First you've got my freezer. This is how it looked once I managed to cram everything from my shopping trip into it, but it is so disorganized that its scary! The door just barely closes and you definitely can't find anything!




Today I made sure to rearrange the entire thing, firstly so I could see what food I had available, and second of all, because it was desperately necessary.



See all this meat I found in my freezer? (There's also 2 bags of milk in there and some canning jars in the upper left corner, but the rest is all meat!) I kept finding cheap cuts and buying it on sale, because I was sure I wouldn't be able to get a price like that again. And then I'd use the meat really sparingly, to the extent that I barely made a dent in the stockpile of meat.
Shown:
4 whole chickens, 4 packages of chicken wings, 1 package of turkey wings, 4 packages of gizzards, 5 individually wrapped whole chicken breasts, 2 pot roasts, 1 package of turkey necks, 1 package of hamburger crumbles, 1 package of deboned turkey necks, 1 package of cooked beef hunks... and that's just the meat!


Here's the frozen veggies! I seriously had no clue some of that stuff existed. There is:
2 opened packages of green beans,  1 package home frozen green beans, 2 packages of okra, 1 opened package of spinach, 1 opened package of peas, 2 packages of home frozen cauliflower, 3 packages of cooked foraged mallow, 2 packages of foraged blanched mustard greens, 1 package of home frozen fennel, 1 package of home frozen carrots, and 1 package of foraged grape leaves.

I've also got 3 packages of different types of fish, as well as a few different types of frozen cooked beans, some fat that needs to be rendered, homemade bread crumbs, a few different types of homemade soups, etc.

I made a list marking how many packages of each type of food I have in my freezer and which shelf it is on so that I'll be able to keep track of what's going on in there and don't overbuy.

The organized freezer now! Top shelf- veggies and prepared meals,
middle shelf meats, bottom fish and soups and other things.
In addition to all my frozen stuff, I also have my stockpile of home canned goods. When I took this picture last night, I only had pickled cauliflower and pickled beets, some canned fruit, and grapefruit marmalade, in addition to the olives, pineapple vinegar, feijoa vinegar, and kombucha vinegar that I store over there. Since then I've added more to my stockpile of cans, but more on that later.

And then in my regular my regular stockpile (pictured at the top)-
I have a whole huuuuuuuuuge amount of white rice, some sushi rice, some brown rice, chickpeas, a few packages of white beans, kidney beans, green lentils, quinoa, cranberry beans, black beans, split peas, red lentils, buckwheat, millet, couscous, pasta, egg barley pasta, a few containers of dark tahini, a few containers of tomato paste, lots of sugar, a decent amount of flour, sunflower seeds...

My regular baking cabinet. Such a mess. This will be tackled tomorrow,
but its also a large part of my stockpile.

And then I've got my bottles-
So many I have to store them in a few different places! Lemon juice, soy sauce, white vinegar grape juice, wine, ketchup, olive oil, vodka, homemade alcohol, sunflower oil, kombucha vinegar, homemade vanilla, and probably a few other things I'm not remembering.



Bottle storage place number one- on top of the dehydrator.

Bottle storage number 2- in a little nook in our little room.
The big yellow thing is a cleaned jerry can that now
holds our bulk bought vital wheat gluten.
More of our bottles at the top. At the bottom, bulk bought oats,
powdered sugar, coconut oil, gluten, baking soda, baking powder,
and smaller containers to give easier access to the foods.
And there's what's left of my bulk food order: (People bought a lot from me, which was great, because it meant less of a monetary outlay for me, but I was still able to get things at their terrific prices because of the huge amounts I bought.

Jerry can filled with powdered milk, on top of a
box containing a huge sack of baking soda.

More vital wheat gluten and some dehydrated potato flakes..
What do you say? Do you think we have enough food to last us a while? 

I'm challenging myself to see how long I can go without going grocery shopping. There are some staples that we use often around here that I don't think will last us a full 2.5 months. Those are sugar, flour, oil, salt, onions and possibly carrots. I'm going to make an exception and if I run out of those things, I'll allow myself to stock up, but on those things only. Even so, I'm going to try to stretch what I have to last as long as possible.
I do plan on buying eggs at my usual pace- 2 trays of 30, every 2-4 weeks.

My rules for the challenge basically are:
Only shop for the above things, possibly one or two other things. 
Only 1 or 2 items maximum can be bought per shop.
Shopping trips maximum once a week, but ideally ask someone else to pick something up for me and  pay them back.

How long can I last? I'm betting that with skimping, foraging, making do, and improvising, we'll be able to last a good 2 months at least without doing a real shopping, but I'm hoping it'll be even longer.

To start my challenge, I made a few preparations so the food I have will last me much longer and I'll be able to have variety even farther on in the game.

Preparations and Changes for the Challenge:

I noticed I had but one tablespoon left of yeast. I used that to make a sourdough starter so that little bit of  yeast will last me much longer. 

After I made the starter, my mom popped over with another package of yeast. I still think I'll be using sourdough for lots of things.

I took reduced tomatoes that wouldn't last long and made them into salsa. I canned 4 jars of that. One will be for our supper tomorrow night, the rest will be put away for later.
I also canned some pickled cucumbers and pickled radishes for good measure.
I made refrigerator carrot pickles.
I made purple kimchi, a fermented Korean style sourkraut. 
I also fermented some pickles.
I dehydrated some greens and some mushrooms for later use.

My mom also brought over some kefir grains, so I got some milk kefir and yogurt going, in addition to the water kefir and kombucha that I've already got going strong. Since kombucha is a big sugar guzzler, I think I'm going to start scaling back on making that, or start making it like my friend does- with very little sugar.

I also made some carob flour with the leftover carob that I foraged back in the summer and just now made into carob honey. I dehydrated and ground up the rest of the carob and I'll be using that carob flour as a sugar and flour stretcher in sweet baked goods, and perhaps also as a hot cocoa mix substitute.

I'm going to cut back on my flour and sugar usage and see how much of our meals I can base on other things in order to make this work. 

I do think I'll need to make some sort of basic menu plan to ensure that I save some things for later instead of using it all up at once. Wow, I can't wait for this challenge, to prove to myself how far we can stretch our food!

PS- my birthday and hubby's birthday is right in the middle of this challenge. I can't wait to see how I handle that one!

So, what do you think? How long do you think I can go without grocery shopping?
How big is your stockpile? What's the longest you'd be able to eat from your stockpile and only your stockpile? What's the longest you've gone?

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