Eat ALL the Things!

EatAllTheThings

Yes, this is an homage to Hyperbole and a Half, possibly the most humorous blog. Ever.

But back to the topic at hand: EATING! As part of our Uber Frugal Month experiment, Mr. Frugalwoods and I challenged ourselves to eat the backlog of food in our home. We’re not over-buyers by our very frugal nature, but we still had quite the collection of unique foodstuffs. All that bulk grocery shopping can sometimes come back to bite ya…

To identify our stash of food:

  1. We explored our refrigerator:
    • Found a jar of lemon curd (?!?, but it was tasty)
  2. We examined our freezer:
    • I’m not sure whose idea it was to buy a 5 lb bag of frozen green beans, but I’m sure it was a good deal at the time.
    • Also, 6 lbs of frozen fruit.
  3. We excavated our pantry:
    • At some point in our lives, we decided we needed a lot of canned salmon. Like, a lot.
    • Plus, one can of anchovies!

We’re a month in and no one has contracted scurvy. First to go were the perishables–fruits, vegetables, dairy.

It’s taken a good deal of creativity in the cooking department–directed, staffed & managed entirely by Mr. Frugalwoods–but he says it’s been a delicious and often hilarious undertaking. Right now he’s roasting sweet potatoes for dinner (with a side of, yes, green beans) while cooking our lunches for the week: black beans, vegetables, and rice.

The legendary green beans! Paired with cheap frozen shrimp and leftover jalepanos

The legendary green beans! Paired with cheap frozen shrimp, shallots, and leftover jalapeños.

Consuming your backlog of food is a great way to:

  1. Have a super frugal month
  2. Examine the food you’ve been purchasing and make educated decisions on future purchases in order to frugalize your groceries
  3. Recognize when to buy bulk and when not to. I think we’re going to be eating those green beans for 6 months…

 What’s the most unusual meal combo you’ve made from random and forgotten food?

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28 Responses

  1. K says:

    We are doing this experiment this week. Our fridge supplies are already a little low due to holiday traveling since last Wednesday, but I am refusing to do anymore grocery shopping until after the new year, longer if we can last! Luckily we have a pretty good supply of lentils, rice, and beans, as well as some frozen veggies. And we were gifted a dozen home-grown eggs from M’s aunt and uncle who have several chickens. Omelets for dinner, lentil chili for lunch, woot!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Woohoo! That’s awesome! Lentils, rice, beans, and veggies are such great staples–we eat some combination thereof pretty much every week. Omelets and lentil chili both sound delicious. Good luck!

  2. T says:

    Do you ever use a pressure cooker for your beans or rice, or for making soup? If not you should consider trying one out. I was surprised to see that your recipe used canned beans. Back in my 20’s I was a climbing bum and thought canned beans were an extravagance. Dried beans turn out really nice when pressure cooked, and very cheap.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      We haven’t in the past, but I’m on the lookout for a pressure cooker on Craigslist now that the internet has schooled me on bean prep 🙂

      • AnnJo says:

        Hi, I’ve just been exploring and enjoying your website, and although it’s a very old post, thought I’d put in my 2 cents worth on pressure cooking equipment.

        Most pressure cookers use rubber caskets, which wear out with use and degrade with time, so if you’re buying a used cooker, you should assume you’ll need to replace the gasket. Before you decide if a used one is a good deal, check Amazon on the cost of the new gasket for that model first. It may turn out not to be such a bargain. Also, chances are you’ll end up wanting to do some pressure canning at your homestead (veggies and meats all need to be pressure canned). Keep in mind that a pressure cooker of under 16 quart capacity (that’s fluid volume, not number of quart jars it will hold) should not be used for pressure canning because it can’t hold the heat necessary to safely can low-acid foods long enough. So if you want dual use, you must get one over 16 quarts. But on the other hand (and isn’t there always another hand?), once you get in to the big canners of that size or more, they’re just too cumbersome to use for daily cooking. BUT a used All-American pressure canner, if you can find one, is probably a good deal if its parts are all intact, just as a single use (canning) item. They are practically indestructible, don’t use gaskets, and can process big batches.

        I bought a 10-quart gasketed Fagor pressure cooker for beans, stews, etc., and that’s about as big as I’d want to go for cooking. Frankly, I’d rather it was even a little smaller (or my sink bigger), but it is non-stick, so that helps with the cleaning. Otherwise, I really love it, and use it almost weekly. My canner is an All-American 921 (21 quarts) and it’s HUGE and HEAVY, and I’d never use it to cook up a batch of beans unless I was feeding an army, but it works great for canning big batches of meat or veggies.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I just discovered your blog, and having exhausted Mr. Money Mustache until the next post, am really enjoying yours! I agree about the beans- we buy dried beans and cook them in batches, then freeze. Soak the beans overnight or during work day, then cook them in fresh water until tender. I don’t have a pressure cooker- just use a big pot (more electricity than a pressure cooker). I throw in some type of seaweed because I read it cuts down on flatulence. I have no idea if it works, but the extra minerals can’t hurt. This will give you good practice for growing your beans and shelling them once dried on your homestead! My children are quite picky, but are happy to snack on chick peas, kidney beans and black beans straight out of the freezer.

    I’m trying to eat all the food in our house- I love the challenge, but it takes time when we don’t start using bulk purchases regularly after purchase. 5 lbs of red lentils? Bought a year ago and completely forgotten about. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hey Rebecca! I’m so glad you found us–welcome :)! Hooray for beans, we love ’em. They’re so inexpensive and such a great protein source–vastly cheaper than meat. 5 lbs of red lentils is a lot of lentils. Good luck with the challenge and thanks for saying hi :).

      • Belinda says:

        I would love to have a 5 pound bag of red lentils. I would make Chef AJ’s Red Lentil Chili for sure. It’s a tried and true family favorite.

        http://savingmoneyinmytennesseemountainhome.blogspot.com/2014/07/meatless-meals-series-chef-ajs-red.html

        Chef AJ’s Red Lentil Chili

        Makes 14 cups

        Ingredients:

        1 pound of red lentils (I used green since that is what I had on hand)
        7 cups of water
        2 (14.5 ounce) cans of salt-free tomatoes, fire roasted preferred
        1 (6 ounce) can of salt-free tomato paste
        10 ounces of chopped onion (approximately one large)
        One pound of red bell pepper, (approximately 2 large) VERY finely chopped
        3 ounces of dates (approximately 12 Deglet Noor) (I had/used 5 dates)
        8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
        4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (omitted since I was out)
        1.5 Tablespoons Parsley Flakes (0mitted)
        1.5 Tablespoons Oregano
        1.5 Tablespoons Salt-free Chili Powder
        2 teaspoons SMOKED paprika
        1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste) (0mitted)
        1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste) (0mitted)

        Directions:

        Blend the dates, tomatoes, red bell peppers and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth.
        (I didn’t blend anything, I just put them all in the pressure cooker as is)
        Place all remaining ingredients in an electric pressure cooker and cook on high for 10 minutes.
        Alternatively, place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

  4. Gira says:

    Oh this is my challenge for April! I need to eat all the things in the house! I, too, found myself with a 5 lb bag of green beans in the freezer. I cooked some and ate some with my oatmeal for breakfast, and I do not recommend it! I will have to try them for dinner instead. Plus I have so many kinds of lentils, dried beans, dals, etc. I don’t know when I can eat them all. And then my mom gave me some bags of kala chana (black chickpeas) and brown mung beans. I don’t even have bottles to put them in! Aaaaacccckkkkk! This challenge will probably continue into May for me!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      HAHA! Black beans in the oatmeal… that sounds like something I’d try! It gets to be pretty fun to dig through the cupboards!

  5. Mrs. FI says:

    Oh my gosh, call me crazy but I absolutely LOVE doing this. I do it at least once a month (once a week more often than not) and am always finding new and creative ways to make our food go further. I’m in agreement with Mr. Frugalwoods, it is “a delicious and often hilarious undertaking.” Just last week we had some left over crescents (that I graciously took from a work potluck), 6 eggs, a little bit of Gruyere cheese left from Christmas (that’s right, CHRISTMAS. the stuff lasts FOR-E-VER), remaining almond milk from my juice cleanse and some leftover breakfast sausage. What does that make? A breakfast casserole! For normal people it probably would have lasted a whole week, but given our appetites are those of a full-grown gorilla, we ate it in 3 days. It still saved us time and money AND gave us something other than granola and oatmeal to eat for breakfast. I can’t think of any unusual combos…but that’s probably because we’ll eat just about anything in any combination and think it’s totally normal. 😉

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Heh, we’re similarly so jaded by odd combos that the occasional weekend lunch of olives, black beans, and leftover pasta (goes pretty well actually) doesn’t even make us bat an eye 🙂

      All I’m going to say is that cheese of any sort rarely lasts very long in our house… 😉

  6. Sam says:

    I used some *old* frozen bag of green beans to make homemade baby food for my 8 month old. Old wilted sad looking frozen green beans don’t matter when you puree them in a blender and they taste just the same to him. That helped to get rid of a ton of frozen bags of green beans.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Great idea! We’re going to have to learn the ways of making baby food before too long, so that’s good to know 🙂

  7. Darleen says:

    Love you folks!! Especially the ever Elegant,Frugaldog!!! You make me laugh and you give me hope that we can do this too. Thanks!!

  8. Marisa says:

    The big win I found in our area is Cash and Carry, which is a west coast restaurant supply store. They have a great assortment of dried beans that our local Costco does not have. And cheese is crazy cheap, we can get 16 ounces of buffalo mozzarella for 1/2 the price of 8 ounces at a regular store. They also carry this amazing pizza sauce(no preservatives) for $2.29/can, which will make about 4 pizzas.

  9. Cindy in the South says:

    I have six month’s supply of dried beans, canned vegetables, rice, spices, etc., so I totally love this!. Also, I now love my dried beans thanks to your recipe with chili paste! That stuff is awesome! Like I said before, I buy a different brand I found at Walmart, since we have limited shopping options here. Today, I brought my lunch and I have a rice, cream of mushroom soup(that I found in my pantry) and green peas casserole….lol. I packed it in a glass jar, and brought my cloth napkin, with my thermos of water….score!

  10. Rebecca Holly says:

    This is a treasure hunt for sure!! I started searching through our stores last week, and have discovered some fun things. My favorite combo has been just a nice chili made with one random (fell to the bottom of our chest freezer) bag of red tomatoes (blanched, peeled, and thrown whole into baggies), one bag of frozen green tomatoes (they are fabulous if someone gives you their last fall picking!!), and some pinto beans in my dried bean storage. Along with spices, I added some leftover scrap veggie broth and a can of tomato paste–apparently I had ten cans scattered throughout my shelves! Cannot wait to see what other fun meals will come up this month. So glad my hubby and kiddos think it is fun too 😉

  11. raspberrypie says:

    You inspired me to eat all the little leftover scraps from my fridge and freezer today! They usually get eaten anyway, but I was kind of planning to buy a frozen pizza tonight, as I usually do on the rare nights when my boyfriend isn’t home. Instead, I’m having the last bit of Tuesday’s delicious baked bean casserole, I’m baking some potatoes that were already cooked for said casserole, a few veggies from the freezer, and I’m thinking a boiled egg. A bit eclectic but not bad 🙂 and I didn’t go to the grocery store, so yay!

  12. Sandra says:

    There is this 2lb bag of “zombie brussel sprouts” that is hiding in the back of the freezer and has probably been there for over a year. They’ll be fine to eat except for the freezer burn taste. I have a way to cook them that takes away that cold storage flavor. First a short soaking in a bowl filled with fresh water, plus 1/4 cup of vinegar, to get all the ice crystals off and impart a little tartness. Then a tumble in a bowl of honey, salt, garlic powder, tamari or soy sauce, and sesame seed oil, with a dusting of cornstarch or arrowroot to finish. Then a bake or broil at 375 degrees, turning once. You’ll know they are done when browned and crispy. Usually, a bag of veggies like that was bought for a purpose, I just forgot about it.

  13. Meredith A Obenchain says:

    DH and I were trying to cut back on carbs for health reasons (long story), but what with Uber Frugal Month, we’re going to resort to eating up a fair amount of the pasta in the pantry. We were feeling decently on track with the budget we created for this month, but forgot about Little Dude’s dental (he’s a dog). It’s covered under our veterinary plan, but he almost always needs at least one extraction (poor guy) and we didn’t set aside extra for that. So… will be tightening up a couple of other categories so we can stay on track with the savings goal. The nice thing is, we have the pasta already, and veggies are some of the least expensive items to buy, so I think we’ll hit our target!

  14. Mr. Grumby says:

    I had Mr.-Grumby-Offspring-Prevention Surgery a few years ago and, on the advice of my doctor, bought a bag of frozen peas for topical post-surgical use. I healed as planned and, for some reason placed the bag back in the freezer.
    A couple years later Mrs. Grumby was cleaning out the freezer (we had not yet fully adopted the EATT Credo) and found them. She had forgotten their original purpose, but fortunately I was there to prevent them from ending up on my plate. Now we are very mindful of what we buy and make every effort to eat all the things.

  15. Sharon says:

    I love all the past posts!
    It is now 2017 and I am here for the month of January pantry challenge! There are just 2 of us and the amount of food I have will probably last 6 months with few repeats. I seem to have an unnatural love of sausages… At least an unnatural love of buying them. So, besides the usual beans and weiners, I think a sausage fried rice, pasta and sausage casserole and regular old hotdogs in bread will be included. Maybe even weekly! Lol

  16. Debbie says:

    I have been on a mission to use up odd things for the past year – a tin of this or a packet of that bought with a specific purpose in mind, put in the cupboard or freezer and never used. My goal last year was to either discard ( if too old), rehome or use all the food and cleaning products lurking in cupboards/freezers, that are not normally used in our day to day meals or cleaning regimes. I did pretty well, but still have a few grocery items to use up. Also, being a person who stocks up on groceries when they are on special, if a family member decides that he or she no longer wishes to eat an item I have stocked up on specifically for them, I am left with a surplus to find uses for (or to give away). This year I aim to finally use all the errant food packages from the cupboards and freezers and stick to purchasing and stocking up only on basic grocery items we frequently use.

  17. Juls Owings says:

    I decided to clean the butler’s pantry where I store things that can’t go in the pantry down in the basement…I have no clue to why I have over 50 cake mixes when we don’t really eat cake. Granddaughter suggested I make cookies with them to share with the grandkids through the year. Did go to store yesterday to get non food items that I had coupons to match sales with (over 30% savings) and some perishables including basic veggies and dairy (I have Crohn’s and use dairy for protein when I can’t eat meat/beans). Still saved 30% there also. Got 3 lbs of meat free due to coupons and sales combined YES SCORE. AND came in way under budget for the amt we decided to spend…that money is now transferred to savings so we don’t want to spend it later this month. PLUS we won’t be going back to the store for 2 wks even moved when to refill meds so we weren’t going to town until I have a doc appt.

  18. Elisabeth says:

    A hint when it comes to help eliminate food waste.
    I use the top shelf in the fridge for the food we need to use very soon (leftovers, thawing food from the freezer, food that will expire soon etc.)
    In the pantry I keep a basket for food I need to use before it expires (for me that’s usually nut and bean flours).
    In other words, I no longer use my favorite storage method (storing like things together) for everything in my house, at least not for perishables in the kitchen and bathroom.

    It is very inspiring for “the grandma of a bunch” to see all the creative and frugal ideas posted by the younger generation, thank you!

    When frugal out of necessity, I have been the most creative, productive and happy. When wasteful, out of opportunity, I have made my biggest mistakes. And now, being frugal by choise has brought all the good things back in my life! And I strongly believe that a frugal lifestyle is the only sustainable way of life.

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