This whole Corona virus thing has got us all thinking too. I don’t want to be in a position where we have eaten everything down to the bare minimum and end up self isolating for a period of time. It seems there’s going to be a bit of scaremongering in the next few days, which naturally may result in people panic buying. Given we are normally stocked up for 3 months plus with food etc, this is probably the worst time this could have happened. We still have a good amount of food in though, so I am not worried, it’s just typical and shows it’s always good to be prepared, or have a plan A and B at least. Anyway, I’m not spending time worrying about that until we know more.
Generally, even though we are working our way through what is in stock in the said areas, generally there’s left overs from those and I will reuse them in something else. Eg if we roast a (raw) chicken for a Sunday lunch, I will reuse left overs in a pie and eat one for another meal, then freeze one, so the pie goes back in the freezer in a differed “state” (ie cooked chicken, not raw) to how it came out, which is fine.
That takes me to the title of the post, The Food Challenge. What are we trying to achieve? An organised, prepared, useable stock of short term and long term food items which are adaptable, healthy and budget friendly. Easy right? I will do a separate post on supermarkets and why I believe you should have a menu plan, shopping list and shop efficiently to help you lower your outgoings. Given everything we have in stock, there’s absolutely no reason we should be maxing our grocery budget, or even coming close, for a month or two at least. For the record, our budget it £300 a month, which is reduced from around £600 from when we first moved in 4 years ago.
I didn’t choose my words without giving this a fair bit of thought.
Organised: this is a task that can be fairly quickly achieved and is tangible. Physically organising the freezer, fridge and pantry which are they key elements in this challenge, is something I can be getting on with. It doesn’t stop there though, once they are organised, how do they stay organised and how do we benefit from them being organised? Keeping an inventory is key here. That makes this task a little bit more time consuming and if you can get a helping hand to either write the list as you go through the items, or vice versa then that will save you a bit of time. I’ll set myself aside some time to do this and report back.
Prepared: this is a reference to a few different things. I need to be prepared (and organised) with regards to menu planning, writing shopping lists, doing the weekly shop etc. Also it means preparing ahead, getting up on a morning and taking tea out of the freezer, batch cooking, taking time to prepare meals ahead.
Useable stock: what is the point of having a tub of quinoia, pearl barley, blue food colouring and eastern spices if I am never going to use them? Over the years I have been pulled in to advertising, expensive recipes, following the ideal and impulse buying. Not any more. Everything we have in stock needs to be useable. That may mean I have to be inventive with recipes, avoid others, think differently and so on. That’s fine, bring it on. I like the idea of having almost a capsule wardrobe pantry, does that make sense?
Short term and long term: to me, there’s a obvious need to have fresh and non fresh items. Dried, frozen, pickled, preserved, whatever it may be. What is the ideal amount and what benefits can we get from both? Time will tell.
Adaptable: Something that will not work for us as a family is restrictions. We eat at 6:30 on an evening, after we have done the jobs outside and caught up with each other. Sometimes though, something happens, chickens escape, the wind has blown down a fence, the greenhouse takes longer to water and then everything gets shunted along time wise. Tea needs to go from a 45 minute Aga time to 15 minutes. Instead of making lasagne with the ragu, I’m going to heat the ragu and throw it on top of some quick cook spaghetti or penne with a garlic bread. See what I mean? I may have some dump bags (idea adapted per The Batch Lady slow cooker) that I can use as a stir fry, or to add to longer cook rice or short cook noodles. So for my family, adaptability is key.
Healthy: I guess this speaks for itself. One thing that was important to us when we moved here was moving to a more healthy lifestyle, food and drink included, where I cook as much as possible from scratch. That doesn’t mean we won’t eat fatty food or drink red wine, far from it! It about a balance and as long as the scales tip in favour of the healthy, I’m happy with that.
Budget friendly: 2020 is about minimising our outgoings and I can not see that ever changing. Why would you want to spend more than you needed to? For us, it’s to allow us to pay our mortgage off early, other people will have their reasons. All to the same goal though.
I told you I had given it some thought 😂.
So over the coming days and weeks I will add updates as to where I am in The Food Challenge journey. I will share my inventories, subsequent menu plans and shopping lists, where I shop to get them and recipes for making the meals. Please join us on this journey, we would love to hear how these things work for you guys and learn from how you do things too. I’m planning on doing a YouTube video or two on this for anyone who is interested – I will let you know when it’s ready.
In the mean time, I’m off to start the inventory lists, which will inevitably result in a cleaning session too! I’ll grab some pics of before and after.