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Klatsch: a week without shopping

Klatsch team

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Okay here's a question about Parmalat milk or other milk in aseptic, shelf-stable packaging:

Let's say you buy Parmalat milk and, when you buy it, you put it in the refrigerator. How does that affect the expiration date? Presumably it's going to be good for a longer time. Or am I off-base there?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Okay, I'm not seeing much challenge in this one. Maybe it's a difference in rural shopping patterns vs. urban/peri-urban ones? Sure, I shop weekly out of habit for a few things rather than out of necessity. But I could probably go a couple of weeks without shopping and not succumb to vitamin deficiency or lack of variety. Thinking again, maybe it's hurricane preparedness that has my larder filled to brimming. The memories of waiting in line at the supermarket for hours (or driving 50 miles to find an open store) are still fairly fresh in my mind from '05, and a week without power during 9/08 reinforced the wisdom of stocking up on nonperishables.

Stashed in the freezer are various veggies, frozen portioned meat/poultry, soups, stews, beans, andouille, tasso, bread crumbs, pizza dough blobs, peeled shrimp, redfish & red snapper, a whole batch of homemade pho, rolls from weekly baking past--that's the stuff I can remember; an archaeological survey would probably reveal some things I forgot, too. In a week, I'll run out of eggs, milk, & Fage yogurt: but I have powdered eggs (and powdered whites) on hand and evap canned milk & dry milk. Am I really shopping each week for yogurt? (Uh, now that I think about it, I do put yogurt on the list each week. Damn, I need to start making my own yogurt.) Fresh herbs (dill, chives, cilantro, parsley, sage, bay, thyme, tumeric) are out in the yard, along with (right now) fennel, broccoli, and scallions.

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I think I'm in. We're having an Oscar Party on Sunday night, so will have plenty of leftovers, I'm sure. Our freezer is full of not only frozen entrees, but also various fish and poultry items. My pantry has beans and lentils (which my sons won't eat)...and lots of rice and pasta. I will need to get veggies, fruit and milk. Great idea!

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Okay, I'm not seeing much challenge in this one. 

I think for North Americans who live in houses in not-densely-populated areas there is no challenge whatsoever on the survival front. It's purely an issue of just how well you can eat without resupplying any groceries for a week (we can also, if there's interest, create a subgroup of people who want to go for two weeks). But if you participate, regardless of whether it's a challenge or not, you'll save a week's worth of grocery money.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hmm. I'm out because I don't have a regular weekly shopping day. I have enough meat in my freezers to feed most of eG, and always have dairy on hand, so the things I shop mostly for are fresh produce usually every other day or so.


Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I'm in! Since I retired, and my wife is still teaching, I have been doing all of the cooking for the past five years. My wife's role has been to point out how much more we have in the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry than needs to be there. I keep saying that I am going to use up what is on hand - then I see a bargain at the store, or something sounds really good for the next meal, or whatever. Actually, I have been reducing the surplus some in the past few weeks, but it isn't very evident yet.

My regular grocery shopping day is Wednesday. In this area, Kroger and Publix both offer a 5% discount for seniors on Wednesdays. I stop at Trader Joe's and at local produce markets whenever I am driving by.

Without any prior planning, except that on Wednesday I bought a few ingredients to be able to prepare meals which primarily include on hand ingredients, my grocery shopping will cease for a week. I think it will be possible to eat well for a week, or more, without any significant additional purchases.

Tonight we are invited out for dinner. In exchange for dinner, I am going to be helping our friends begin selling on eBay - which is what I do, more or less, full time since I retired and closed my retail store. I have been selling my remaining inventory on eBay for just over five years now. Just as with "on hand" groceries, I don't estimate well. I thought I would have all of my inventory sold within two years. Now, we can see how long this food stock actually does last. Tomorrow evening, we will finish the chicken and rice casserole I prepared for last night's dinner.

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I showed you mine now you show me yours: let's see photos of those freezers!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I do a variation on this exercise once or twice a year, because my family normally removes to a different house for the summer. So every spring, a month or so before we are to leave, I start figuring out how to use up as much as possible of our perishable food stores--and semi-perishable ones as well--without buying more stuff, which just tends to add to the backlog. Since I'm a frugal cook to begin with (who said cheapskate?), the effect is not so much to make me less wasteful as to make me more creative in combining ingredients. It's a great game, a sort of Tetris puzzle, where you fit together the ingredients that come falling out of your pantry. There's also a wonderful feeling of serendipity when you come across a new recipe for which you have all the necessary ingredients on hand.

And, pace Mark Bittman, dried basil has its uses.

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I'll try and remember to take a photo of my freezer once my camera batteries charge, but, oy, what a nightmare. I think the first rule of freezer cookery is to mark those damned packages. Lord only knows what's in some of them!

I will admit I did stop at the market today; mostly because my mom asked me to take care of some things for her, but the only things I picked up for myself was:

1 bunch broccoli

1 package of salad greens (committed to bringing a salad to a party tomorrow)

3 onions

3 heads of garlic

2 gallons of milk

Yogurt (for delivery of Heidi's medicine, which I don't really consider a grocery, but a medical necessity)

Oh, and the produce guy gave me two mangos that were about to be tossed because they were "soft" (meaning perfect for Molly's Coconut, Lime and Mango braise).

A perusal of my deep freeze reveals several bags of frozen green beans, peas and corn (which, given the time of year, are actually "fresher" than what's available "fresh" at the market); pie filling, more meat than a person could ask for, including bacon and sausages.

Herbs. At this time of year here, given how the weather has been, I haven't been doing fresh (it would have frozen between the market and the car). Instead, last summer, I whizzed some herbs (separately) with a tidge of olive oil and froze them in logs. I also dried some of them, and they will have to suffice.

So, good to go in the Fahning household.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I'm not sure if I'm in on this or not. I have more square footage of freezer space than most NYC apartments have of living space. An upright freezer and a side-by-side fridge-freezer in the basement, and a bottom freezer in the kitchen. Also a pantry in the basement.

We could eat for a couple months; there's produce from our garden jarred and frozen, home smoked bacon, and a home-smoked brisket. Not to mention the usual suspects like pork chops, chicken, ground beef, frozen fruit. frozen buttermilk.

It's an embarassment of riches. A week wouldn't make a dent. I have no "living in the country" excuse. I live in a Philadelphia suburb.

It would be an excuse to eat bacon every day, the Ben & Jerry's, and the two tubs of D'Artagnan truffle butter hiding in there.

I know it's not normal; can I blame my Italian, depression era parents for my food saving habits?

Maybe I should just give up food shopping for Lent?

I took pictures, but am not sure how to post them here; maybe it's safer that I not.


I'd rather be making cheese; growing beets or smoking briskets.

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Well, I'm a food hoarder. Same Italian Depression. It wouldn't be a problem for me, and I'm in the process of doing it right now because there's certain food I want to clean out. Like a 5 pound bag of cornmeal.

Polenta. Every. Night.

I have something like 9 jars of esoteric jelly in my cupboard and I don't eat jelly.

Lately I've been eating prune flavored yogurt to use up a giant jar of pureed prunes I once thought was a good idea.

I have five pounds of organic walnuts . . .

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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I'm at work right now.

If you've seen my Foodblog from last June, you can get a good idea of the interior. Unlike Susan and El Gordo, the freezer is relatively bare. There was a eureka moment a few weeks ago though when I discovered a container of monkfish congee that I had forgotten about. :blink:

More later.

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Yes I have a lot of stuff in my two fridges/freezers, but I've never been able to do this. I feel like I need to shop every week at least. So, I'm jumping in as well starting tomorrow, Sat. Having two small children I need fresh milk if I run out and will need to get a pack of salad greens. I'll hold off on everything else.

Working from memory here is what I think I ahve:

Chicken Stock

Duck Stock

Clarified quart of chicken stock

Duck Confit

4 different kinds of homemade sausage

a small piece of homecured bacon

homecured pancetta


two lamb shanks

two ribeye steaks (maybe 8 oz each or more)

Two or 3 chicken breasts

A few cheeses

dried and canned beans


Canned Tuna

Canned Tomatoes

Various seasoning, oils and vinegars

Rosemary, Oregano and mint in my garden

Meyer Lemons in the garden




Different flours



I'm sure I am forgetting some stuff, but that should be the majority of it.

What I'm low on?

I only have one stick of butter

Maybe one carrot or two

Not sure about the egg situation. We use lots of that.

I think I am very low on AP flour

I'll take a picture of my freezers and post it soon.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I think that the psychological effects are going to be very interesting. When I looked at my pantry and freezer, I realized that I have a "back of the X" problem: stuff migrates to the back and then I basically forget about until it's got freezer burn or has expired by a few years. When I get started, I think I'm going to invert the typical order and see what I can make with those out-of-the-rotation back benchers.

Hmmm. Once a year, I get a deer or a deer and a half, so I have to clean out the deep freeze. Why don't I ever do that with the upstairs freezer (side-by-side)?

So, today, I scrounged once I picked up the stuff we have to have (and, some of it is medical necessity). So, for dinner tonight, I'm doing a bastardized version of pozole with the last of my leftover smoked pork, a can of hominy, and one of the several cans of tomatillos I have. There is salsa in the fridge. Oh, and I'm going to use the last of the Poblano Creme Soup since I can't seem to find any more roasted poblanos in the freezer (although I'm sure they are there).

Using the last of the smoked pork reminds me. Does charcoal count as a grocery item? I've got another butt, and some time on my hands next week....(oh, and plenty of wood chunks).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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stuff migrates to the back

Man are you right about that. Look what I just found by going into the deeper strata of the freezer:


Those aren't even old. Dave (the Cook) sent them to me in December. But the convection patterns in my freezer were such that they got behind the brisket and the chicken and disappeared.

Perhaps we can all start thinking about what the heck I'm going to do with two frozen, smoked trout next week.


FG, are those beauties hot or cold smoked? Hot smoked, I'd do a smoked fish dip, or mayo dressed salad; cold smoked I'd treat it like Nova. Either way it'd be great for a Sunday breakfast 'appetizing'. Course, that is a LOT of smoked fish; if you're really desperate, pm me and I'll provide a shipping address for leftovers! :laugh:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I had a little bit of a setback this afternoon: I used up all the basil in the freezer. I was hoping I'd have basil for next week, but tonight I'm making meatballs for dinner and, in asking myself how much basil I'd normally add to the tomato sauce, I had to admit to myself that under normal circumstances I'd just use 100% of what was there. So, since my no-shopping week won't start until Sunday, I felt compelled to follow my normal routine. Bye, bye basil.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Well, I'm a food hoarder.  Same Italian Depression. 

I have five pounds of organic walnuts . . .

Now those I could use. I am almost out of walnuts, although I still have ten pounds of raw almonds (they are grown locally so I buy them by the 5-gal. bucket full from the growers.

I lightly roast the nuts and grind them with dried fruits (also sesame seeds & etc.) to make healthy confections.

I grind the nuts in a meat grinder as that way they don't get pulped and gummy and a lot can be processed in a short time.

I also combine them with pumpkin or squash in ravioli, mix into hot cereal and so on.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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Dinner same as last night with the addition of a bread from freezer. It was the no-knead, whole grain, bread.....flattened, spread with some sauce, and topped with pepperoni, and mozzarella and baked. The foil was a bit unwrapped, but sliced and toasted it was good served with some jarred brusschetta sauce.

Made the sweet red bean stuffed mochi balls and they were wonderful. Didn't use the whole can of beans though.....or the whole box of Mochiko.

Mashed up a lump of blue cheese from freezer with some cream cheese. Some filling for some of the celery perhaps.

Need more than a week to make a dent in the overstock. Yep, I'm a hoarder.

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Oooooh, perfect timing!!

I was just realizing how much month I had left with so little money. :sad:

Tonight we had toasted cheese, which is what we call cheese on toast at our house. We have a regular dairy delivery on Tuesday which is just milk, eggs & butter. Otherwise, it's the fridge and the pantry and the freezer.

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Okay. I did a quick walk through and here's an idea of what I have available.

Remember, I have a household of...two.

White AP flour

White bread flour

Whole wheat flour


Brown Jasmine rice

Short grain white rice

Various dried noodles including vermicelli rice noodles

1lb. dry tvp (textured vegetable protein)

Various dried beans

Various raw nuts, seeds and dried fruits

3 cans of sardines

1 can albacore tuna

Unopened packages of nori and spring roll skins

Tomatoes have a category all their own...-sigh-

Diced 16 cans

Petite diced 22 cans

Petite diced with chipotle 14 cans

Whole peeled 17 cans

Tomato sauce 36 cans

Beans, too...

Pinto 24 cans

Black 15 cans

Garbanzo 17 cans

Kidney 14 cans

2 lbs. chicken breasts

3 lbs. Pork loin roast

4 lbs. Pork butt roast

1 lb. Morning Star precooked TVP

1 lb. firm tofu

1 lb. silken tofu

Various herbs, vinegars and oils. Also, lemons, limes, potatoes, shallots, ginger, garlic, lemongrass... stop me now.

So, yeah, I could last a week or four.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?


Twin Peaks

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Oh, I'm remembering that we have done this already! We were up at The Cabin Labor Day weekend some years ago (1997) when the trusty Ford Bronco decided to not want to go further than 100 yards from The Cabin.

We had been up there with friends, and they chose to leave earlier on Monday than we did. We divided up the stuff to take home, and the other Mom said "you just take the food." Good thing we did, as the larder at the cabin at the end of the season is sparse, to say the least.

Anyway, car trouble kept us up there for an addition four days, and outside of when Paul went across the lake in the boat the next day to call a tow truck, our employers, day care, school (Diana missed her first day of first grade!) -- Paul did get a 1/2 gallon of milk and a basket (literally, in a basket) of eggs, all we had were a coupla hunks of assorted cheese, two half loaves of bread, some salami, leftover steak, baby carrots, some sad looking salad greens, 1/2 stick of butter, and some bacon. In the larder: some bisquick, 2 cans of baked beans, 1 can of tuna, flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, powdered milk (yes, it does have a reason), powdered buttermilk, assorted dried herbs and spices, ramen noodles, a box of macaroni of unknown age, some dusty looking chocolate chips and a half a container of oatmeal. Oh, there was also a bag of dried navy beans which were surely older than any of my kids. I'm not including the various and assundry condiments like ketchup, fish sauce, sirichai sauce, etc.

We ate well. And horded the milk; after all, we had three little kids at the time.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Well, I took the plunge last night and I'm already finding that this is going to be a somewhat challenging week. But if things go the way they have so far, after one dinner, one breakfast and one lunch, I think the "challenge" will be quite satisfying for me.

I say "challenging" because I'm finding my culinary creativity challenged on the spot. I'm not planning anything ahead of time. I'm going to open the cupboards and create dinner based on what I see on the shelf. I'm not going to do my typically lavish weekend feasts for one. (I almost felt like I was living my own home verson of a "Top Chef" quickfire challenge last night.)

I always have a lot of wonderful ingredients in the freezer, cabinets and refrigerator because I tend to pick off the shelves when I shop-more out of impulse rather than a need for a particular ingredient. As such, I end up with skads of great products that I all but forget are sitting on the shelf waiting for me to put them to good use.

An example of just a few of the wonderful proteins in the freezer right now:


-Ground Veal

-Elk Tenderloin steaks

-Duck Bones

-Cornish Game Hen

-Meatloaf mixture ready for the oven

(Sadly, I didn't use one of the above all last week).

I've quickly learned that I can do it without having to stop by the market every day after work. I don't need to buy those black peppercorns to make a "Steak Au Poivre" tonight. I have a steak, a very good Prime Rib steak from Costco in fact, and I have a chimichurri sauce in the fridge that I served with salmon last week. So I won't spend the time and money to drive 10 miles for black peppercorns. I'll make do with what I have and save the "Au Poivre" preparation for another time.

As my work week goes along, I lull myself into a mode of laziness and instead of cooking with all those wonderful products I have on hand, I take the easy route-like stopping at the market for that 8 piece fried chicken meal instead of using up some of the more delicious and nutritious things I already have on hand.

While my typical shopping day is Friday, that pattern has been upset the past three weeks due to pesky staff meetings at the "home" office in Portland on my regular days off. My shopping trips have been reduced to quick stops for a few items on my way home from work.

Given my penchant for food shopping, you could say that I am always stocked. So what better time to start my challenge than on a Thursday night.

Last night dinner was composed of a carrot salad, rotisserie chicken, pasta and a dish of vanilla ice cream with cherries and litchee.

I present you with the results, (not the best in my repertoire of cookery), but satisfying nonetheless. And I didn't take that side trip for $10 bucks worth of fried chicken, biscuits and coleslaw.

I had a bag of raw shredded carrots that I had used in an Asian noodle dish last week. The carrots were still incredibly fresh. The dressing was made up of preserved lemon oil, (in the jar at the right), salt, pepper, sugar, caraway seeds and apple cider vinegar-



Frozen rotisserie chicken, butter, white wine and dried tarragon. I roast my chickens on the quirky "Showtime Rotisserie Grill" by Ron Popeil. I don't know about his other snake-oil products, but I can tell you that Mr. Popeil's rotisserie invention makes delicious chickens. I had the chicken leftover from a previous dinner, and I put it in the pot with a slug of the wine, a chardonnary, and the butter and tarragon to make a pan sauce for some pasta-


Dried pasta I had bought at Whole Foods last fall-


Turning the pasta into the sauce in the pot-


The bird comes back to life-


Doesn't everyone have frozen peas in the freezer?-


The finished dish-


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As we shop every day, this will be a challenge. Unlike so many of us I don't own a chest freezer crammed with animal protein. In fact, I don't own a can of tuna fish. But I'm game.

Please tell me that wine is excluded from this dictat. This is not a good week to stop drinking.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel


A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites


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I don't do a weekly shopping expedition. I live next to a grocery store, so I shop as needed. But I can certainly stop shopping for a week, and I can probably do pretty well with what I have on hand (thank god I stocked up on cat food). I know I have a lot of stuff in the pantry and in the freezer, so I think this will work for me. I'll probably have to break into the emergency stash of shelf-stable milk for my coffee, but, hey! that's why it's there.

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