Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Challenge: Draw Down the Stockpile

The other day we were talking with our friends Sandy and Chuck, who put in a substantial vegetable garden every year. Sandy noted that they were eating out of their freezer to use up last season's produce in preparation for the new year. We admitted that our freezer and pantry were full to bursting with neglected food items, and we vowed on the spot to draw them down.

When we got home, we investigated.

How did we end up with two sizable containers of black rice? We recently discovered this delicious grain, but as we're still in the early stages of figuring out how to use it, two containers seem a bit excessive. Over the weekend we made a batch of black rice pudding, and we'll work the rest into Asian and Italian dishes (reports to follow—and if anybody has a good black-rice recipe, please share).

Meanwhile, we own many, many jars of dried beans and lentils; an impressive collection of rice varieties; stockpiled bags of dried peppers and spices; and a daunting range of never-cracked oddball items picked up at ethnic and specialty markets. There are things that we bought but ended up not being crazy about—pressed barley, anyone?—and things that we simply forgot about. At the same time, we can't find things that we know we bought, including a big sack of French lentils.

The freezer has its own problems: in addition to necessary items like frozen stock, Parmesan rinds, fruit, and vegetables, we've packed the shelves with mysterious leftovers. (Why, oh why, didn't we mark all of them? Did we really think that a frozen brown square would be immediately recognizable six months later?)

Over the next few weeks, we'll be working to draw down our supplies, and will keep you posted on our discoveries. And if anyone has good tips for using up old pantry and freezer items, please let us know . . .


  1. Hi!
    I just moved, so I had to do that. I wound up giving away a lot of freezer and fridge stuff, as I knew most frozen foods would not make the trip, and I wasn't willing to buy a cooler just for that.
    Mostly, what I did to use up the rest was just not buy ANYTHING for a while - just eat through what I had, buy small containers of milk (and then use powdered for the last week). That took some discipline, as toy food shopping is one of my great pleasures! But I wound up with space in my new kitchen's designated food cabinets, and a vow to never let fridges and cupboards fill to bursting again.

  2. We're amazed and a bit ashamed that we haven't even lived in this house six months and we're already in chaos! But we also love to food-shop, and the markets around here are so much better that we can't help overindulging.

    But it's a fun project to work with what you have. Amy, if you've got any "drawdown" recipes that you want to share with EWEC readers, please let us know!