I recently admitted to myself that I have a problem… a grain problem. No, I’m not allergic to grains or cutting them out of my diet. I have a problem hoarding grains, pasta, and dried beans in my pantry!! After posting about it in my Instagram stories and getting lots of responses, I realized I’m not alone.
So, I set a challenge for myself to purge my pantry by actually cooking all those non-perishable items I keep intentionally/accidentally stockpiling. I thought some of y’all might like to join me. But before I get to the details of my challenge, let me further explain why I want to do this. I have three main reasons:
1) To get my grocery budget under control. I have been known to disrespect our family grocery budget (oops!). When I realized that I probably had a month’s worth of grains and pasta in my pantry, I thought that taking a break from buying grains for June could give our grocery budget some relief. It’s not that these items are very expensive, but every little bit makes a difference. And the practice of buying only what I need is a good one.
2) To be a good steward of what I have. It’s easy to accidentally buy *another* container of quinoa, but on some level, it’s wasteful. I know these pantry items don’t technically go bad (at least not anytime soon), but the mindset of excessive buying isn’t one I want to encourage. If you saw how many containers of lentils I have in my pantry right now, you’d get what mean.
3) To get on the meal prepping bandwagon… sort of. One of my weekly Powersheets goals is to meal prep at least one grain/bean, and clearing out my pantry is going to help me do that! Let me explain: I’ve found that when I have grains or beans already cooked and in the fridge, it really helps me put together lunches and dinners more quickly. At lunchtime, I don’t want to take 30 minutes to cook a grain and then turn it into a meal, but I can throw pre-cooked grains into a salad for a quick, wholesome lunch. Dried beans need to soak overnight and then cook for an hour, so I really have to plan ahead–which usually doesn’t happen–if I want to have them for dinner. So I try to cook at least one big pot of grains or beans on Sunday/Monday that I can use throughout the week.
To start, make an inventory of all the stuff in your pantry and post it somewhere in your kitchen that you’ll see. Then choose an option for #ProjectPantryPurge:
“Eh, I’ll do it once” / Non-committal: open your pantry and let the contents inspire a meal! If the inspiration doesn’t strike right away, try googling “recipes with _____” or get more specific, like, “breakfast dishes with chickpeas.” (I actually had great results with that one recently, thanks to The Kitchn!) Post a pic. Pat yourself on the back!
“Ok, fine” / Committed-ish: plan out 4-5 meals with grains/beans you already have in your pantry. Cook these pantry purge meals for a whole week or make one meal per week for a month! Brag to your mom about how responsible you are.
“YES!” / Full-on commitment: challenge yourself to only cook with the grains, beans, and pasta in your pantry (and not buy any new ones!) for a whole month or until you run out. Maybe use some stuff shoved in the back of your freezer while you’re at it. Try to break yourself of your hoarding ways. (Lolz, good luck with that!)
Post your recipe discoveries, pantry purge wins, and posi pantry purge vibes using the hashtag #ProjectPantryPurge! I’ll be sharing mine over on Instagram (@kenanhill).