Eating down the larder


A broad bean flower. These will be ready to eat in the next couple of weeks.

At the end of March I realized something needed to be done about the glacier threatening to take over my freezer. The glacier had been growing for some time and all my hopes it would make a hasty retreat were clearly not going to happen. At the same time Erica at Northwest Edible suggested April as an eat from your larder challenge – basically not buying groceries for the month. It was the perfect opportunity to clear out the freezer and test to see if we could get by on the food I’ve stockpiled – so I signed us up.

I set dairy as an exception, because I don’t save any (maybe I should) and I gave my daughter a general exception as she needed lunches she would eat. I also declared coffee not food, but necessary. Overall, we were mostly successful (even managed to feed guests normal food), our biggest downfall was this week’s lack of motivation to make bread, so I bought a couple of loaves. We also did have some beer, which like coffee really isn’t food and when we got sick, I bought some comfort food, ice-cream, which may fit under my dairy exception.

So what did we eat? I generally don’t make fancy food and I prefer vegetables only slightly cooked (for years I hated broccoli, until I realized what I hated was over cooked broccoli, slightly cooked broccoli is fantastic). I also heavily rely on my slow cooker. Our general diet contains a lot of vegetables, along with legumes and rice. We do eat some pasta just because it stores well and is simple to prepare plus we eat bread. I have concerns about conventionally raised wheat, so I’m replacing what I have with organic and local versions where I can.

Meat is a special occasion food for us as we both have concerns about how sustainable regular (i.e. standard North American levels) meat consumption is. At the beginning of the month there was one pork chop and a package of chicken thighs in the freezer, all of which were consumed.

The reality was that our diet didn’t change even though I didn’t buy groceries for a month. Rice and legumes store easily, so I buy them in bulk. The tougher part was the vegetables as April is one of the least productive months of the year and most of last year’s harvest had already been consumed. I still had frozen tomatoes and blueberries along with three remaining out of my 110 spaghetti squash from last year (I couldn’t face eating them so they remain, perhaps I’ll feed them to the chickens). At the beginning of the month there was plenty of store bought garlic, onions and carrots in the kitchen (we did the challenge on a whim, so I didn’t stockpile anything in advance). I also had plenty of kale, collards and broccoli in the garden. Also, I’m currently getting 3-4 eggs a day, which provides enough for my favourite breakfast most days. Overall, I think we were nutritionally balanced.

I did discover some disconnects between the food I store and the food we eat. I stockpile a large number of legume types, yet I clearly prefer some more than others. Chickpeas are our favourite while I don’t really get around to eating the kidney beans. Red lentils and yellow split peas get eaten while mung beans don’t. I prefer black beans over white beans. While for pasta (Italian style), I like penne and rotini over everything else. For some reason I had several boxes of bow tie pasta, so we focused on eating those.

Looking at what is still in my cupboard, we could easily keep going for months – especially since more foods will be available out of the garden. But I’m going to ease up and buy a few things like bananas, which were by far the food I missed the most.

My freezer is now glacier free – but I suspect it will be back.