The Accidental Pantry Project!!! This project is going to be more of a practice than a project, and it will take a few phases to really get it going. Bear with me because as I get my thoughts out, this may read a bit more stream of conscious than a regimented program.
MY FOOD ADDICTION
First things first…I have an addiction to food and food shopping. I have worked in some form of a food based business for nearly 19 years, and most recently I work for Whole Foods Market. One of my favorite things to do is to go to a store and just pore over everything in the aisles. I love seeing what is trendy, what is new, and getting inspiration for my next or future meals. I loved when business is a little slow and I can explore what was new and different. Through my obsession (and employee discount and knowledge of the best sales), I built quite the pantry. Translation – I am a borderline food hoarder. There is food in several different nooks and crannies throughout my condo.
I got to thinking. I have some extra free time and I have a lot of food. It is time to get creative!
Yes, I have money in the bank and can go out to eat and keep building on this collection of sorts. But I also have money sitting here at home. Why not deplete this inventory and make it a fun project to do so? Rather than constantly shopping, it is time to save money and use what I have on hand! Why not see how much money I can save, and how much fun I can have cooking – both old standbys and new creations.
- Clock starts from today-ish, as I have to take inventory. Anything in my home already does not count towards money I am spending. Moving forward, any money spent will count against food/grocery bill. In other words, this food inventory is a sunk cost.
- When eating at home, only use items that are on hand.
- Grocery shopping is allowed only for perishable items – fresh produce, dairy, protein.
- Don’t be lazy – for example, do not buy fresh chicken if there is chicken in the freezer.
- Remember, this is a practice, not a science. The rules apply to eating at home and eating as many meals at home as possible.
- Replenish a pantry item only if it absolutely necessary. For example, I love almond milk and use it in a lot of smoothies. If I am totally out and there is no available substitution, will purchase.
- The goal is to save money and be more resourceful.
- Food that is given as a gift, in other words, friend brings over an item that ends up in the pantry inventory.
- Going out to eat. I am unemployed, not destitute. There will be times I go out for a meal with family and friends.
- Ordering in. While this will be avoided as much as possible, again, there will be times I do not cook. This will be factored into overall food spending.
- Items I do not make myself. For example, I love bagels and treat myself to a bagel breakfast approximately once a week.
- Requests – if I am going to someone’s home and a specific dish was requested, I can buy non-perishable ingredients I do not have on hand.
THE PROJECT PRE-PHASES
Before the project truly gets underway, the following needs to happen:
- Inventory – Before I start using all this food, I need to take inventory and figure out the value of what is already in my home.
- Budget – Figure out what my monthly current food/grocery costs are. I cannot show progress or savings if I do not have something to match it against.