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Klatsch: Don't Shop Now!

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Welcome back to the eGullet Klatsch Series! A Klatsch is "a casual social gathering for conversation," an opportunity to discuss a current culinary adventure with the eGullet community. For more information, see the Klatsch Announcement; you can ask questions here.

Back in February, scores of eGullet Society members joined Steven Shaw (Fat Guy) in a no-shopping challenge. Instead of spending on groceries, we feasted on the bounty of our refrigerators, freezers and pantries. We ate very well indeed, and many of us discovered how much we waste.

So we’re going to do another week. Remember, as Steven said, "If you spend $100 a week on groceries, this experiment will put $100 back in your pocket quicker than you can say stimulus!"

Here are the rules:

  1. No stockpiling. We are announcing this today because we want to get some participation and more people read the forums on weekdays. But that doesn't mean you should go out tomorrow and buy double groceries. Please, go about your normal routine but skip your shopping day.
  2. No endangering your children. If you decide to participate in our experiment but you run out of milk for your child, please just go out and buy milk. Don't worry about it. Nobody is going to hold it against you.
  3. No making yourself miserable. If you really need some more lettuce (or a lemon for your Sidecar) in order to make it through the week without going insane, go ahead and get provisions on an as-needed basis. We're not trying to be totally doctrinaire about this. It's supposed to be fun and save us all a little money at a time when we can use it. And it's supposed to prove a point, not cause chaos, despair and profound awkwardness.
  4. If you decide to participate in this experiment, you're making a commitment to chronicle a week's worth of meals starting on whatever day you normally shop. If you decide not to participate directly, please limit your involvement to cooking and menu suggestions and otherwise constructive
    commentary. This isn't the place to extol the virtues of shopping every day, buying only the freshest ingredients and letting seasonality and local availability guide your consumption.
  5. Have fun, and keep everyone posted on your progress!

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Do you have something coming up in your culinary life that you think would make a great Klatsch? Head over to the Klatsch Announcement page and review the information there, and then send a PM or e-mail to the Klatsch Team!

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(Just a reminder that all of the regular eGullet Forums rules apply to the Klatsches: we are here to discuss food and cooking-related subjects, so hosts will be working to make sure the discussion stays on-topic.)

Klatsch team


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Thank you, dear Klatsch team, for that kind introduction.

Hello people. It's time for another no-shopping challenge. Those of you who lived through it last time around know the backstory, but let me fill everybody in on how a month-long challenge changed the way I buy, cook and think about food, forever.

I never intended to go a week without shopping for groceries, much less a month. It just happened, thanks to a blessed event.

Like many, or perhaps most, people in Western industrialized nations, I shop for groceries at a supermarket once a week, every week. In my case, that supermarket is Fairway on Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets in New York City, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My family has been shopping there since I was a little kid, and ever since I moved back to New York City after graduating from college in Vermont in 1991, I have been going to Fairway every Sunday morning, with few interruptions in that routine. In the past three and a half years, my mother and a recent addition to the family – my son PJ – have become part of this equation. Shopping at Fairway on Sunday mornings with grandma is a highlight of his week, and my wife Ellen gets a couple of precious hours to herself.

I’m a man of habit – even ritual – when it comes to food. I buy bread every week, whether we need it or not. I don’t even stop to think. When there’s extra bread, I put the slices in the freezer, certain that I’ll someday do something with them. A few months later, the freezer is overflowing with bread and I throw it all in the trash. It’s a loop I’ve been caught in for years: grocery shopping every week has been ingrained in me since I was young, just like other Americans. And since becoming a parent myself, our schedule has become even more rigid.

So it was an unexpected disruption one Sunday earlier this year when we had to attend a friend’s daughter’s first communion in New Jersey – and I couldn’t do the grocery shopping. But we had plenty of leftovers, so I made dinner on Sunday (I’m the primary cook in the household) and planned to shop on Monday. Then it rained on Monday and I didn’t want to brave the weather – in New York City we don’t drive our groceries home; we carry them. I found some black-bean soup in the freezer. I heated it up, toasted some of the bread from the frozen stockpile and pulled together a salad: the previous week’s lettuce was still with us, and still in great shape. I put out little bowls of diced red onion, sour cream and salsa to garnish our soup, along with an array of hot sauces. My wife baked oatmeal cookies for dessert. It turned out to be a fantastic meal.

I planned to shop Tuesday. But on Tuesday morning we had to make cookies for PJ’s entire Music Together class, then I had a full day of work, then we had date night and we didn’t think Fairway was date-night material. On Wednesday I had to sit through an all-morning seminar the contents of which could have been conveyed in about half an hour, then I had lunch with an editor, then I had to work late into the night to meet a deadline . . . Before I knew it, the end of the week was at hand, I hadn’t bought any new groceries – and, lo and behold, no harm had befallen my family. My refrigerator, freezer and pantry, I realized, had been overflowing with edible food. Why had I been saving all this stuff, I wondered, when I could have been eating it?

I hadn’t shopped at all that week. Yet, we ate well – and for those of you who aren’t familiar with me let me say: you better believe that. I’m not some skinny vegetarian. I’m a big guy – my member name here isn’t “Fat Guy” for nothing. I write about food and restaurants for a (barely) living, and if you do that, you’ve got to eat often and well. As many of you know, I started out as a lawyer, but I was more interested in my business lunches than in my business, so a decade ago I left the law to devote my life to the world of food. I make no compromises when it comes to food; my girth is my proof.

But that week, because I had to flex my creative muscles to assemble meals from what was on hand, I forced myself to be a more careful cook than ever before. We ate so well that week, it got me thinking. Surely I wasn’t alone in having a freezer and pantry full of food, much of which would get thrown out as it expired over the course of the coming months and years. We live in a small New York City apartment – people with houses, basement freezers and walk-in pantries must have far more stuff lying around. I knew I wasn’t the only person in America who returned from the supermarket and could barely fit the new food in the refrigerator because there was so much old stuff still there. Certainly I wasn’t alone in being able to skip a week of shopping and still eat well. Really well.

So, a few months later, I asked the members of the eGullet Society to join me in a collective week without shopping, starting that day, with no warning and no opportunity to stockpile—just don’t shop, now, I challenged. (To keep it fair, a month earlier, I’d asked my colleague Dave to pick a date and spring it on me without warning; he actually caught me during a week when I was already low on several key provisions.) We would feast on the bounty of our refrigerators, freezers and pantries. “Think about it from an economic standpoint,” I argued. “Times are tough right now. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, this experiment will put $100 back in your pocket quicker than you can say ‘stimulus.’”

I’ll admit to being surprised when my suggestion was met with a chorus of excitement. We declared a “National Eat the Stuff in Our Freezers and Pantries Week.” (I know, it rolls right off the tongue.) A group of approximately 75 people from around the world took the no-shopping challenge that week.

For seven days, it was a fun experiment and we ate surprisingly well – better than in a normal week, because we were really focused on our use of ingredients, and we had to pay a lot of attention to meal planning. Then, at the end of the week, a bigger challenge arose: my family hosted a dinner party. My wife’s cousin Stephanie and her new boyfriend Jason were coming over. We really wanted Jason to marry Stephanie, so I couldn’t serve them a bad meal of old food. I was worried, but my fears were unfounded. I made so many dishes in such quantity that nobody would have guessed it was a no-shopping week. A few weeks later, Stephanie and Jason got engaged.

“National Eat the Stuff in Our Freezers and Pantries Week” was over. But though I had reduced the stockpile in the refrigerator, the pantry and freezer were a different story. They were still so full that every time I opened the freezer, something would fall out onto my foot. My cabinets were packed so tightly that I still had no idea what might be in them. So I decided to go another week, as did many of my co-conspirators in the one-week challenge. And then we went yet another week. In the end, we managed a month without grocery shopping, though some of us made exceptions to buy a half-gallon of milk for our kids.

Not long after we started the challenge, a writer at the New York Times got wind of the project and wrote an online piece about all the crazy people online who were going a week without shopping for groceries. The Washington Post found out and decided to run a similar challenge for its readers. The phenomenon spread. As I was going into my fourth week of supermarket avoidance, a producer from Good Morning America called. A film crew with a mountain of lights and microphones filled every available bit of space in my apartment. (The segment got bumped for a hard-news event, so it may never air – we’ll see.) Oprah did a similar challenge for her viewers.

Somewhere between the time I laid the no-shopping gauntlet down to the eGullet community and the media enthusiasm that ensued, it finally hit me: this challenge was more than just an amusing way to use all of the food I had bought during my weekly pilgrimage to Fairway and save some money. In staying away from the grocery store, I had changed.

In a week I had become sensitive to waste in a way that a lifetime of lip-service to conservation had never achieved. Not that my awakening was a one-shot deal. My don’t-shop-now challenge had resonated with a cross-section of people around the world, but I didn't fully understand why until toward the fourth week, as the challenge evolved from something fun, into something edifying, into something personally, profoundly meaningful.

Each individual who took the challenge experienced it in a slightly different way, but for many of us there was a common thread. We came to understand, through this shared experience, that the way people in the wealthy nations shop, eat and cook is the centerpiece of a wasteful lifestyle that's hard to break out of. While for most of history, humankind struggled full-time to find enough food to survive, in the mid-20th Century the tables turned. In the affluent nations, at least, we now have so much food, and it’s so cheap, that we throw billions of dollars worth of it in the garbage. While doing that, we’ve become a rather pudgy society.

Yet many people in the 21st Century still shop, every week, like they’re stocking up for a hard 19th Century winter. Today’s food abundance has smothered self-restraint. After all, I didn’t just survive the challenge. I was buying less and saving money, but I was also eating better. And it wasn’t just my food life that changed. I reflected on and reevaluated all my patterns of spending and consumption as well as those of society at large. At the end of the month, the challenge was over, but it had changed me forever.

It can happen for you too. I'm going to ask you to take the “Don’t Shop Now” challenge for seven days, starting right now. In taking this journey together we can make a difference. We can change our food buying, cooking and eating habits. And along the way you’re going to pick up more than a few new kitchen skills that have value in every room of the house and beyond. I firmly believe that many people, once they achieve the realization that they can do more with less, can do more than just eat better. They can buy less and dress better, play better, travel better, live better.

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'm in. I may make an exception to buy an ingredient or two to test recipes or make a something ahead for Thanksgiving. The freezer and pantry clear out is handy because we are going away for 2+ months starting at Christmas. I'm also worried about being low on eggs, but Pat is big on going out for breakfast so may not be an issue.

Day One: Sunday

Breakfast at the local Sportsman's club.

Lunch/Dinner: Beef Back Ribs that were calling my name last week at the market.

Half the rack baked/roasted in the oven, brushed with "Bayou Bourbon Glaze" (gift from my mum that has been in the pantry for months). The other half was braised, vaguely following the method for the braised short ribs in October's Bon Appetit. Served with braised root veg puree: sweet potato, red skinned potato, onions and garlic from the stock in my pantry.

There were three ribs leftover which we will have for lunch today with a little salad of romaine lettuce, dressed with one of the mystery dressing bits in the fridge.

Saving the bones for a batch of stock later on this week.

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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I am going to try. I'm going to have to bend a bit with a tyrannical 2 year old in the house--fortunately we have a full box of O's in the house but I'm in deep trouble if we run out of bananas!

I need to get stuff cleared out of the freezer--there isn't room to freeze extra soup or chili right now.

To that end, I took out boneless turkey thighs to defrost last night. I will bake them tonight in a ginger soy sauce with brown rice and serve with roasted purple and orange cauliflower.

Wondering about alternatives to olive oil if I run out.

Looking forward to this!

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Count me in again. I think the last time I was one of the people who felt that one week barely made a dent in my pantry or refrig/freezer. Now to make matters worse, as my family of children/grandchildren has continued to grow I have bought a freezer for the basement and it is already quite full. Over the past two months I have made gallons of various kinds of vegetable soups with the produce from the CSA to stockpile for the winter. Some have meat some not. I did this because one of my daughters just had her third child and I don't know how the young mothers of today do it all -- work, childcare, home care. My son-in-law is terrific with the kids and doing his share in the house, but still, how you nurse a baby, do things with your twin sons, and work full time and still have time to sleep is beyond me. So I try to do a lot of cooking for her family now.

My one hesitation about this challenge is that I need to make desserts for Thanksgiving -- for 30+ people -- and I was planning on doing some of the cooking this week. I hope people won't think I'm not being sporting if I market for the ingredients for those things which I will be cooking ahead and storing. I promise we won't eat them during the challenge!

Tonight I have some baby back ribs that I cooked in a slow cooker with soy, Chinese rice wine, star anise, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, scallion and hot pepper. Because it has already served for one meal, I don't have enough for 5 adults for tonight, so I will stretch it by taking it off the bones, shredding the meat and adding it at the last minute to a stir fry of veggies (onions,scallions, shredded carrots and dikon are in my vegetable bin in great abundance.) The delicious liquid from the slow cooker will be a nice sauce. Served over brown rice it should be complete meal. Some fruit for dessert.

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I read this just after I got back from my midmorning walk, during which I bought a couple of odds and ends (cream for Doc's coffee and a small container of sour cream). When I got back to work, I was putting together sandwiches today using the coldcuts we keep in a little fridge here, but we had no mayo or mustard - so I used a little of the sour cream, and I'll be danged if it wasn't really good! So there's my first substitution already (if using the sour cream is allowed). :smile:

I usually make a big Sunday supper just for the two of us (but I cook for about six), so tonight I'd already planned to have leftover roast chicken, shredded onto a big salad, and reheated butternut squash risotto (I always make a ton of it because it's sort of labor-intensive but quick to reheat, and anyway I think the reheated leftovers are even better). I had planned to buy some salmon for tomorrow's supper, but instead I will forage in the freezer, where I'm sure there is plenty to put together main dishes for the week. I know I have plenty of lettuces, so there will be lots of salads, and there's also plenty of bread, rice, couscous, tomatoes, frozen veggies, eggs, etc.

This is great! Now I won't feel bad blowing some extra grocery money next week for Thanksgiving. The only think I think I will need to buy during the week is tea; I bought a new kind recently and it's not to my liking - I donated it to the school.

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Yesterday is rather a blur. I spent a good portion of the day preparing Pork Mincemeat. While it was roasting I made a batch of marzipan in Thermomix.

For dinner I made stir-fry veggies and Trader Joe's potstickers(steamed).

I know I had something for lunch but I think it was just fruit and cheese.

Breakfast was toast and a soft-boiled egg.

I drank a lot of tea - all day long kept the tea brewer on until late evening.

This morning I prepared a mixed-grain hot cereal - I have a lot of grains on hand and will have for some time.

I have prepared dough for stollen in my Thermomix and am waiting for it to finish rising to bake it off.

Lunch was a large mug of butternut squash soup left over from a couple of days ago.

For dinner I am preparing risotto with mushrooms(dried porcini)& cheese and served with steamed mixed vegetables. (Another Thermomix experiment.)

I don't plan on leaving the house at all this week in any event. (Unless I have to go to the doctor or the hospital.)

I am preparing for my holiday baking marathon, doing all the little fiddly tasks that take up a lot of time, i.e., measuring dry ingredients, gathering and cleaning, if necessary, baking pans, molds, etc.

Each recipe gets its own tray or bus tub with a copy of the recipe and items checked off if they have been added to the tray.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"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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Ok, I'm all for trying this. But one week just won't be enough for me, I'm a member of a CSA and will be getting my farm share this weekend (2 weeks' worth of winter veggies, plus eggs, plus fruit) - and my meat CSA just sent a box last week, and I've got enough grains and spices and everything else to last at least a month. So I'll commit myself for a month, though in two weeks I'll be getting more CSA veggies..... but I think the exercise will be well worth it just the same. And I will have to buy milk and half-and-half - but will try to limit it to that.

So tonight we'll have a chowder with the smoked haddock we bought in Maine last week, as well as some leftover unsmoked haddock from dinner on Saturday. I'll use the leftover mashed potato/celery root/carrot mix from last night's braised lamb shoulder to thicken the soup, and maybe add some of the fresh coconut milk I bought at the Co-op last members' discount day.

All sounds pretty good at this point!

M: Too many free radicals. That's your problem. James Bond: "Free radicals," sir? M: Yes. They're toxins that destroy the body and the brain, caused by eating too much red meat and white bread and too many dry martinis! James Bond: Then I shall cut out the white bread, sir. -- Never Say Never Again

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So far everyone's plans sound great. No one is stumped yet!

For dinner tonight, we had a white bean, kale and chorizo soup.

The chorizo is from an excellent local farm (Autumn's Harvest), and has been in my freezer since the farmer's market in September/October. I sauteed this with some garlic, then added some shredded kale (some was used this weekend for decoration at a Harvest Dinner I worked at)

and two cans of cannellini beans from my pantry. No stock necessary, just filled up with some water and simmered for half an hour to glorious results. I love this sort of recipes, simple but so delicious. I shaved parmesean over the top to serve. So glad there are leftovers. I bet it will be even better tomorrow. :biggrin:

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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At the end of the last "stop shopping" challenge, I vowed to be better about the upstairs freezer (side-by-side fridge thing). The downstairs chest freezer is always well organized, filled with mostly venison and things foraged and well labeled.

Well, the upstairs freezer is a nightmare once again. What's the deal with whomever (it could have been me) adding a bag with one hamburger bun. WTF?

So, my first task today was to look in that upstairs freezer, and it was a good thing I did before the trash man came.

It's looking better, and most of the stuff was new enough that I could actually figure out what it is.

But, I'm on a burn to sort of empty the deep freeze, which still contains the better part of one deer, as I am expecting another one (I don't buy much meat).

So, while no photos (I need to stop at the market to pick up prescriptions and batteries), this has been a good weekend and Monday.


Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: Lunch meat and sliced cheese that needed to be eaten.

Dinner: Ribeyes discovered in the freezer. Along with salad and potatoes that were due to sprout.


Breakfast: the rest of the baked potatoes from Saturday, diced and fried. Bacon and eggs.

Lunch: They were on their own.

Dinner: I had a foot tumper. A package of four chicken thighs that literally feel out of the upstairs freezer (didn't cause any damage). A lemon that was needing to be used, rosemary, sage and thyme from the garden. Roasted, with more potatoes that were close to sprouting. A leftover asparagus salad.


Breakfast: Paul doesn't eat breakfast. Peter had a toaster thingie that was in his halloween bag (he was burning to finish the last 25 pages of "Dune" in less than an hour). Heidi -- she has breakfast at school, as part of her OT. Me, oatmeal.

Lunch: Peter and Heidi both had cheese sandwiches, along with cookies (homemade), each a piece (the last of the two) of Halloween candy, and they each had a banana. Lunch for Paul was whatever he ate (probably fast food). Mine was the "bits that fell off of the turkey I was smoking." Any meat smoker knows that "bits fall off." Along with leftover asparagus and two Haralson apples.

Dinner: Monday's are tough. Paul was very late, and Peter was somewhat less late (math league). It was leftover night! Paul had the rest of the ribeye, thinly sliced on toast with the last slice of pepper jack. I had a nice bowl of leftover Slow-Braised Beef and Potatoes over rice, alongside the leftover asparagus salad.

So, from the upstairs freezer. Every bit of the single buns were quickly whizzed in the Cuiz for bread crumbs.

I did smoke a turkey that my cousin gave me, and I will return almost all of the smoked meat to him.

Stay tuned for tomorrow. I do know that I will have to buy milk during the week, as well as yogurt as a vehicle for AED's for Prncess Heidi.

I will add that I'm a Costco shopper, so when I buy something, it is not a splurge, but stuff we use regularly. ALthough lunches for the kids (think bentos) will be challenge, that big package of cans of tuna and PB are never just sitting there. They are used and used and used. Most of what is in my pantry are staples -- the bottles of soy, vinegar, etc., etc.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I didn't participate last time, I'm one of those persons who usually shops only for two days at a time, so the whole enterpise seemed too intimidating. My freezer is usually empty except for coffee and perhaps some stock. But just reading the previous thread made me a little more purposeful about hoarding ingredients and leftovers. I'd never last a month but a week I can do. So I guess I'm in for this round.

Tonight I made a relatively quick batch of chana punjabi to use up chickpeas I'd soaked and cooked yesterday but discovered, to my dismay, I didn't have the tahini I'd need for hummus. This was better! Basmati rice was at hand and luckily had bought some spinach at the farmers market today (last trip, I know). Very good.

edited because the first post was an accident!

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The no-shopping challenge back in February had what felt like a big impact on my grocery-shopping habits. To wit, it has consistently knocked about 1/3 off the weekly grocery bill. In addition, I have probably skipped four or five weeks of shopping here and there during the past eight months. I now shop with current inventory in the front of my mind, and when given the choice I use what I have rather than buy new stuff.

Yet, behold the monstrosity that is my freezer in November:




And the refrigerator:




That's not even getting into the cabinets and nooks and crannies where food is stored in our kitchen, which is a small kitchen by American standards. So, as before, it is unlikely that a family of three (me, my wife Ellen, and our four-year-old son PJ) can put much of a dent in the inventory in a week, or two, or three... But we'll try.

There's also a new wrinkle this time around: we may be moving. I can't get into the details because there are all sorts of variables and legal considerations, but the current mission priority is to reduce inventory to as close to zero as possible over the next couple of months, so that in the event we move we don't have to move cartons and cartons of rice, pasta and beans. Although, I imagine we'll wind up doing that anyway.

Since we last went through this exercise, PJ has started Pre-K and in his school that means he brings lunch. As is standard in a lot of schools these days, nuts are forbidden. The school is also in a synagogue, which introduces other restrictions: meals must be kosher-dairy (no meat). We send lunch in a brown paper bag with the child's name written on it, the bags are collected in the morning and taken to a refrigerator, and then they're redistributed at lunchtime. There's no lunch on Friday because school gets out at noon. And this week Tuesday and Wednesday school is off for parent-teacher conferences. So I'll only be preparing lunch twice for PJ this week. For those who have a special interest in portable lunches, however, I've rigorously chronicled every one of PJ's lunches this year on the Bentos topic in the Japan: Cooking & Baking forum.

At the moment we have a surplus of eggs, because I overbought last week in anticipation of a baking project that never happened. So I start this week with two dozen plus three eggs. That's 27 eggs, I think. I figured if I did something with three of them it would get a carton out of the refrigerator, so I decided to hard cook some eggs for PJ's lunches.

I have these cool Japanese egg molds that make hard-cooked eggs into the shape of a bunny, a car, etc.


To utilize the molds, you cook the eggs as normal for hard-cooked eggs, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon (the still-hot water will be used again). Next, you peel the eggs. Then put the eggs back into the hot water for a minute to bring the whites up to ideal moldable temperature. Then the eggs go into the molds and into an ice-water bath. About ten minutes later, you have eggs in cool shapes, courtesy of Japanese egg molds.











More advanced users of Japanese egg molds also utilize food colorings, little vegetables for eyes and noses, and other stuff. I'm still a beginner but I aspire to do things like that.

This morning I assembled PJ's breakfast from what we had around. Mozzarella chunks and cherry tomatoes. A bunny egg. Some cucumber wedges. The last of the pita chips from a bag that in the old days I'd have thrown out -- but he likes the little bits and crumbs just fine so those got utilized. Half a cookie remaining from yesterday's dinner. Some cantaloupe, including slivers from close to the rind that in the old days would have gone into the trash -- but they're good eating.


For breakfast he wanted a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich to eat on the way to school.


I had a fruit smoothie for breakfast (not pictured here -- I'll cover smoothies in another post).

Later in the day I undertook two food-preparation projects that will surely carry us through a few meals this week. First, I set out to make lentil soup using about 3.5 pounds of lentils that had been sitting in my cabinet for a time, onions, garlic, and the decaying carrots and celery from the produce bin. Also some concentrated beef stock that has, according to the lid, been in the freezer since April.







I set out to make standard lentil soup but as I dug deeper into the fridge I noticed some ginger. That gave me the idea to do more of an Indian-like lentil dish. So I also hauled out the spice grinder and a bunch of spices and took the dish in that direction. (I also found some thyme.)






While the soup was simmering I had a late lunch of leftover pizza from yesterday's outing to Sally's Apizza in New Haven, CT.


Then I set out to manufacture enough salads to carry us through the week. I had a week-old head of lettuce, some aging arugula, crunchy sprouts, a lot of tomatoes of two different kinds (I still have some left), and a small amount of cucumber. I discarded the browned parts of the lettuce and arugula leaves, as well as a few rotten tomatoes, and divided everything up evenly among four containers. There was only enough cucumber to split between two of them, though.







The soup production was so voluminous that I'm going to bring four or five quarts of it tomorrow to a friend who recently had a baby. That will still leave us with more than we can eat before we get sick of it.


Dinner tonight was lentil soup, salad and bread. I'll talk more about the bread situation later on.

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 am in, again. I enjoyed and learned from the earlier experience of not shopping for a week. Our pantry, freezer, and refrigerator are always too full. My goal for these past many months has been to reduce the freezer load by not buying more meat. To that end I have been partially successful.

My plan has been to only buy the ingredients needed for the week's meals and focus on what is on hand to reduce the volume here at the house. That too has been partially successful. The freezer should be empty by spring and that long overdue defrosting will occur.

When I shop at Kroger, Publix, and Trader Joe's I am able to stick to the shopping list fairly well. When I stop at Burger's Market and Big Lots I become the impulse buyer - buying only what I know we will eventually consume, of course. Our pantry seems to be as full as it ever was. I swear I was planning on reducing the amount in the pantry, but I have prepared for the colder weather and the chili, stew, and soup recipes that I know we will enjoy. That also means that I really don't need to do any shopping this week - and won't need to do much until some time next year.

Our Monday was a typical weekday. I had my oatmeal mix for breakfast and Janis had her cold cereal to eat on her drive to school. For lunch I made my typical two sandwiches (ham and cheese & peanut butter and low calorie blackberry preserves which I picked up at Grandma Hoerner's factory in Alma, Kansas this summer). I had a honeycrisp apple for a snack mid-afternoon. The evening meal was leftover bbq beans and kielbasa, fresh spicy Asian slaw from Cooking Light, some chicken and pasta leftovers from Saturday's restaurant meal, and a plate of fresh carrots, celery, and radishes and I opened a jar of spiced peaches.

This morning's breakfast was identical to Monday - and I prepared a new batch of oatmeal since I finished to old batch this morning. Each batch lasts me about three weeks. Of course, I had plenty of oatmeal, dried fruit, etc. already on hand. I won't need to buy more dried fruit until late spring. Janis' lunch is usually a leftover from the refrigerator or a microwaveable soup from the pantry. I keep a few soups and such on hand and she picks whatever she wants each day,

The plan for tonight is a turkey wrap recipe from The Complete Cooking Light using ham rather than turkey. The turkey seemed a little bland last week and we still have some fresh spinach which needs to be used.

My normal shopping is primarily on Wednesdays. That is the day we seniors get our 5% discount at Kroger and Publix. Trader Joe's is ten miles from home, so I only stop there when I am driving by. Burger's Market and Big Lots are also only visited when I am driving by. This Wednesday will be skipped, except that I will probably buy a turkey. It will need to be defrosted slowly, so I cannot wait until the day before Thanksgiving to buy it. However, we may use the turkey breast tenderloin in the freezer if only our two children are joining us. Everything else on this week's shopping list will wait.

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Discovered that the turkey thighs were too freezer burned to be edible, after I cooked them.

The 2.5 year old had leftover pasta with salmon and artichoke hearts last night along with milk, cauliflower and clementines.

I ended up with cauliflower and mini veal burgers. I think my husband had chocolate--he didn't get home from work until after 10.

Today-- 2.5 year old had the last frozen waffle for breakfast along with milk, O's and cheese. He takes his lunch to school and asked for a sunflower seed butter and jam sandwich. I added a peach yogurt, sauteed mushrooms and clementines. The clementines and mushrooms came home uneaten. (They have a microwave in his classroom.)

I had milk and a Trader Joe's Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Caramel for breakfast followed by tea and chicken soup. For lunch I had the rest of the mini veal burgers and roasted cauliflower.

Dinner--the little guy asked for rice and a wrap so he had a frozen Amy's Veggie Pie and rice, along with oj and milk. I'm going to pull out frozen sweet potato gnocchi in a few minutes. He's allergic to eggs so we will different dinners some nights.

I am down to half an onion. Other than that, I don't think I'm seriously low on any staples. And I may have some of those frozen onion cubes from Trader Joe's in the freezer with my cilantro and basil stash.

In digging around the freezer, I counted three frozen pie crusts. I have everything to make apple pie so I think I will do that tomorrow. I took out ground goat and smoked ham steaks to defrost. I think I'll some sort of red sauce with the ground goat and will use the ham steaks as lunches for me.

The little guy out of the blue asked for fresh blueberries and blackberries tonight. I haven't seen any at the market in a while, which I reminded him. I hope he doesn't keep asking--he's kind of hard to resist!

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This morning, we ended up having to go into "the big city" (Ithaca), so breakfast out (again) and quite filling it was. Pat had a bowl of the white bean and chorizo soup as a snack in the afternoon.

I simmered a stock of leftover beef bones (ribs, both short and long), along with some veg scraps from the freezer (chard stems and leek greens.) I hope to make some French Onion soup on Saturday night, as I will have had a very long day at work. Onions have become like gold. I am fairly stocked, but not as well as I thought. I don't think I realised how many onions I go through. Maybe I give some thought to sources.

Dinner as inspired by Molly Wizenberg's article and recipe on kale in October's Bon Appetit. I followed the recipe-- braising half a bunch of kale left from this weekend's decor-fest with onion and plenty of garlic. It took much less than the suggested 20 minutes, despite having added watr. I deglazed with some Sauv Blanc that got left open last night, and crumbled in two Gianelli's hot Italian sausage patties (who have been languishing in our downstairs freezer from the grillin' days of summer.) In the meantime, I boiled water for the orphaned pastas in my lazy susan pantry: 1/3 box rotini, 1/3 box of ditalini, a handful of linguini (ok, I'm holding on to some of this for later this week.) The pasta was then tossed into the kale and sausage mixture, and served with some freshly grated parm and a squeeze of lemon. Really delicious, and will be repeated even when I can shop! (I'd like to experiment with frozen spinach, but suspect the texture won't be nearly as good.)

We've learned: kale + starch (beans, pasta...) + sausage (Hot Italian, Chorizo...)= Success.

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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Here's a photo of the mushroom risotto I had for dinner last night. Prepared in the Thermomix.

Mushroom risotto 1.JPG

And here are the scones I baked this morning for breakfast (had two soft-boiled eggs).

scones 11:17.JPG

Lunch was a salad of greens with a little crumbled asiago cheese.

Dinner will be arriving with a friend who is bringing stuff from the Thai/Chinese restaurant her in town.

She wants to watch a DVD and her DVD player is dead.

I will "suffer" through the dinner of stuff that requires no effort on my part. (Except for getting out a couple of plates, little dishes if needed and the chopsticks.) :rolleyes:

"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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It should have occurred to me, looking at Steven's lovely bento pictures from last night--what about lunch? I never pack a lunch, generally buying a small soup from favorite places near the office. It isn't expensive and it gives me a welcome break from work. But it dawned on me this morning that take-out soup was probably against the rules here. My options for packing a lunch were few, my fridge is pretty bare except for some vegetables. Some goat cheese on a baguette with some end-of-season arugula and a rather sad tomato made a decent sandwich, and I have a bowl of apples on my desk. Tomorrow I'll pack the leftover chick pea stew from last night with some rice and my last handful of spinach. Then I'd better make some soup or pasta to get me through the week's lunches.

Dinner tonight was a quick butternut squash soup, made from some stock and squash puree I found in the freezer, spiced up with a little cumin and sprinkled with some toasted pumpkin seeds, with a little arugula salad on the side. That used the last of my prepared stock, but I found a chicken carcass from a roast that I thankfully stuck in the freezer. It's simmering on the stove now so I'll have stock for soup later in the week. I have two large celeriacs that I picked up at my farmers market on Friday. No one was buying them so they threw in a second when I bought the first. Ever since having a celery root soup a few weeks ago at a local restaurant, I've been wanting to try my hand at making one. Looks like this is the week.

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I'm not sure how many days of fruit smoothies my inventory can support, but I suspect quite a few. Two recent weekends of apple picking have caused an apple glut, there are lots of bananas and oranges around, and then later we'll get into all the fruit in the freezer. So, this morning I went with apple, plum, orange and banana.




Our plan for the day was to go to the New York Hall of Science in Queens, so I packed some sandwiches and snacks. I did cheese, tomato and mayo, as well as peanut butter and jelly for the sandwiches. Also pretzels, almonds and rice cakes. And I packed about a gallon of lentil soup to bring to that friend who recently had a baby.




A little too late to add them to the smoothie, I found some languishing strawberries and we ate those as a post-breakfast/pre-departure treat.


It was a gorgeous day, weather-wise, and we had our lunch feast at a table outside by the Hall of Science playground.

Dinner was a little bit of a hodgepodge. I found a piece of salmon in the freezer. Costco sells very good wild salmon in individual vacuum bags. At some point a while back, we bought and ate a bunch of it, but somehow this one piece was left over. I defrosted it and cooked it in the toaster oven with salt, pepper, lemon and thyme. Also made some ravioli. And we had one of the salads. And some miscellaneous other snacks.





I also wanted to give a shout out to our member Shalmanese, who has been working on a project that is spiritually kindred to the no-shopping challenge: preparing a dinner feast for $1 per person. Worth checking out if you find this topic interesting.

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 admire your McArthur-like preparations -- but I fear for those salads. Do the cut vegetables stay fresh over time?

For a few days, undressed, in a sealed container under refrigeration, yes. I've never tested the limit, but I often produce four days worth of salads at once and have not had a problem with that time frame. I find that if I do a four-day salad production, I'll serve salad with dinner every day for four days, even if the dinner-prep schedule is rushed. Whereas, if I have to create salad day-by-day, washing all that lettuce and chopping the vegetables and such, I'll skip salad on the nights when time is limited.

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 on a big burn to empty the freezer right how, as yet another deer will land on my doorstep this weekend.

So, breakfast for Peter and I were bagels from the freezer. I had ramen noodles, adding some bean sprouts and a half of a leftover already cooked (and in the fridge) chicken breast, with some almost sad bean sprouts.

Dinner tonight was sloppy joes (I had a pound of ground beef in the freezer (served on two partial bags of hamburger buns), some tater tots that were also rolling around in the freezer along with a salad.

If I remember to get batteries tomorrow, I'll take a picture of my little shop of horrors -- the upstairs freezer. The downstairs one is quite well organized, I just need to go through the milk crates once I get the deer and reorganize so that what I have from last year is on the top, and make sure that there aren't any boxes of ice cream treats that only have one treat.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Although not participating fully (I did a semi-normal shopping on Sunday), I did go lean on the protein portion of the program this week, in an effort to use down my freezer stash. I've been SO good at freezing leftovers, rather than tossing them, that my freezer inventory has spilled to the 2nd side of an 8&1/2x11 piece of paper. Usually I had lines leftover on the first side.....

So...my efforts so far this week, and what went OUT of the freezer/fridge to accomodate them. We'll start with last Thursday 11/12, since that was when I started thinking about playing along.

Thurs. - Pasta (from the pantry, killed a package) with sauce from a pot roast I'd made in September that I used as a ragu. I had put away 2 containers of the sauce specifically for this purpose. Small salad with greens from the fridge. Damn tasty pasta.

Fri. - Went out for Mexican food.

Sat. - Beef Chiang Mai with hamburger from the fridge that was about to expire, wrapped in romaine from the fridge. I *did* pick up cilantro and a bag of frozen potstickers to round out the meal. Unfortunately, the bag of potstickers is the gi-mojo economy size, and the rest went into *sigh* the freezer.

Sun. - Navy Bean Soup from 150 Best American Recipes (supposedly the one served in the U.S. Senate's dining hall). Bought the beans and a small smoked pork shank (in lieu of ham hocks.....good choice, way more meat). Had all the other ingredients on hand (celery, potatoes, carrots, onion, spices, chicken broth). Used some bread from the freezer to make croutons to float on top of the soup and a ham bone from May to up the porky goodness of the broth. BTW, great soup. Salad from the produce bin in the fridge.

Mon. - Italian sausage and peppers over linguine. Sausages from the freezer from October, used all I had. Linguine from the pantry, which finished an open package. Tomato puree from the freezer from March, again used it all. Bought the peppers. Had everything else for that. Dessert/fruit option was cheese (from the fridge, and about to go) and a getting long in the tooth Honeycrisp apple and longer in the tooth D'Anjou pear. *They* were great.

Tonight - Sauteed shrimp (from the freezer, have much left though) glazed with a chile sauce I'd made for some chicken earlier last week (from the fridge), oven-roasted potatoes (from the pantry) and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts (from the fridge).

Lunch today was leftover bean soup & croutons. Tomorrow will be a sandwich which used a roll from the freezer, turkey, ham, cheese, tomato, onion and lettuce from the fridge, and Thurs. will be leftover pasta, peppers & sausage.

Dinner tomorrow is up in the air at this point. I've got a piece of meatloaf in the freezer that I could use, for something, or I'm really leaning towards breakfast for dinner. I have the end of a fresh loaf of bread that would make killer French toast. We'll see.

I'm there in spirit. Many of these things, the apples, pears, cheese, chile sauce and some of the greens, would've been tossed because I would've said.......awwwwwww, they're no good, they're old., I'll just toss them. I'm pretty proud of myself for using them. I'm looking at the freezer inventory, though, and have miles to go.

Edit because the last time I lOOked, "looking" had 2 "o"s.

Edited by Pierogi (log)


"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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That's great!

To be clear, folks, you can start the challenge any time. We'll keep it running for a month or so, and you can start chronicling your week today, tomorrow or whenever. It's not too late to get in on it.

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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