A View of My Pantry

Here is another prompt from Writing 101 that I’m putting my own spin on.

As it stands now my pantry is a small closet filled with boxes and bags with lots of bright colors and eye catching designs.  It isn’t particularly well organized, but there is a method to the madness.  Still… it is mostly madness.

The bottom of the pantry is filled with boxes of various kitchen appliances.  There is a food processor or two, a blender, an electric griddle, and other random things.  (No KitchenAid stand mixer though… maybe Christmas)  The things here almost all live in their boxes.  Taken out when there is a need and carefully replaced because they fit just so.  The lowest shelf… snacks.  Bags of dried fruits, trail mix, juice boxes, crackers.  Also some onions.  Because that is logic.

Above that… we have cereal, boxed foods, seasoning packets, canned goods, and spices.  It is the shelf that is most often used and the shelf that is most chaotic.  Digging through the envelopes cans and jars is annoying, and we often can’t find what we need when all is said and done anyway.  Hence the fact that we own at least two jars of dry mustard.  I hate mustard.

There is one shelf where this chaos is starting to change.  A small shelf where there are lots of clear square containers.  A small shelf where these containers are neatly labeled with chalkboard stickers that tell you exactly what ingredient can be found inside.  At first it was only a small part of the shelf… a container for Flour and Sugar… then a few more things like breadcrumbs and cornmeal… slowly expanding until it has filled nearly half of the shelf.  This is the part of the pantry that is for ingredients rather than boxes.  The “Real Food” part of the pantry if you will.

As it stands now this is just a small part of our pantry, but it is slowly expanding.  I don’t know how we are doing it, but this part of the pantry is also the area that is most organized.  Maybe it is the nice, simple, and uniform packaging.  Maybe it is that this area is still relatively small.  Maybe it is because this area is really much simpler to manage.   

Images provided by IDSA

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Oatmeal isn’t terrible… finding truth in a tale of lies

My husband and I are the typical busy Americans. We are a bit overweight, eat lots of processed foods, go out to eat way more than we should, and keep telling ourselves we are going to get back on track and start eating better and exercising occasionally. It could happen.

One of the big pushes I have been making is trying to get our family to eat ‘Real Food’ over processed food. I’m a big fan of the blog 100 Days of Real Food and have found a lot of good information there. We aren’t anywhere close to following the guidelines, but we are making baby steps in the right direction. We are going to the farmer’s market, picking up more fresh and frozen vegetables, making more food from scratch, and replacing highly processed staples with less processed versions.

One switch that has been going reasonably well is more ‘real food’ breakfast.

Funny story time – A while back I decided we needed to change from Quaker Instant Oatmeal to Rolled Oats or Steel Cut Oats or whatever. I went to Amazon (because I love Amazon and am too lazy to go to the store) found some oatmeal that sounded good and ordered it on Subscribe & Save. I had a reading comprehension fail, because the 32oz of oatmeal I thought I was buying was actually a 4 pack of 32oz packages of oatmeal. Do you know how much oatmeal that is?!?!? Well… it is a lot. This single box of oatmeal contained more oats than my entire family had eaten collectively in our entire lives. Including cookie form (because that counts).

Even better is that I forgot to take it off of Subscribe & Save so when we were half way through our first package of oatmeal (months later) we got a whole new box of oatmeal to enjoy.

I grew up in the land of grits (grits + butter + salt + cheese = delicious). So oatmeal was somewhat foreign to me to start with. I mean the Quaker stuff with a shit-ton of sugar and other flavors was decent, but the plain stuff… pretty terrible. Now that I have 256 ounces of pure rolled oats I have no idea what to do with it’s time for me to come up with some ideas.

What I figured out is that if you want to make plain oatmeal palatable for us normal food consuming folks (ie all the people who survive on processed food), you have to add what I like to call fixin’s.  Sometimes fixin’s include brown sugar and cinnamon, other times we have fruit and cream, we even do maple syrup and nuts.  Find a combination that works for you, try to use ‘real food’ when you can.  This morning’s overnight oats (an awesome way to cook oatmeal without having to cook) contained a half cup of frozen mixed berries, 2 teaspoons of raw honey, a dash of cinnamon, and a teeny bit of almond extract. I was going for pie. I didn’t hit that, but I did achieve a yummy real food breakfast.

Then I had empanadas at work….

 

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