Saturday, January 9, 2010

Credit Crunching: Using up what's already here

Sometimes, one of the hardest things for a foodie to do is to not go to the grocery store/farmer's market/specialty market. Let foodies loose in a store that sells any sort of ingredients and we tend to drag home a bit more than we set out to buy in the first place. Ok, fine, sometimes it is a lot more. Or at least I do. I can almost never resist picking up a new spice blend or the latest new-to-me vegetable or fruit, the more unique or bizarre the better. I love to experiment and explore new foods. However, such practices are terrible when credit crunching, and alas, at the moment, I am firmly in the save money camp.

So my current goal is to use my pantry supplies as my "specialty market," rediscovering some of those oddball items I have accumulated and actually use them up. I have a freezer full of ingredients stashed away: meats, veggies, and fruits galore. Instead of running to the store for more, even if I am out of something a recipe calls for, I am trying my hardest to glue myself to the floor and not even think about heading out for more. Because you see, if I go to the grocery store for one item, it feels like a waste of the trip and gas, so I peruse the aisles for sales and anything I might need later. I have gone through my cupboards, made a list of everything in my fridge and freezer and made a battle plan.. a menu that should hopefully take me through the next week or so. A menu that ideally will keep me happily cooking and experimenting in my kitchen without digging deeper into my pockets.

For my first recipe, I didn't exactly wander too far into the land of experimentation. I simple found a recipe I hadn't tried before that seemed appealing and used up some items I had lurking in my pantry. It has been freezing cold around here lately, so I was wanting to make homemade soup. I had some frozen mixed veggies hanging out in my freezer that I really wanted to use up in one fell swoop and soup seemed the most logical choice. I found this recipe for a Vegetable Soup, which not only used up my entire bag of frozen vegetables, but also the last scraps of orzo I still had stashed away from making Orzo with Thyme & Lemon Zest as well as some canned tomatoes and broth. It was easy and satisfying.

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