The first half of September proved to be quite expensive, so I decided to do a pantry challenge and see if I could get through a week making lunches and dinners with what I already have in the house. I’m still buying things like OJ, milk, yogurt, etc. I also decided that if I needed to, I could buy one item for each meal (frequently I will eat the same thing for several days running, so this stretches farther than it sounds). That means something that’s required to make the dish — for example, I had a box of vegan sloppy joe mix (no, I am not vegan; yes, it’s pretty good) and that requires tomato paste, which I do not keep around. For $.50 and what I already had lying around, I had four dinners.
Anyway, for dinner tonight I just finished a bowl of shrimp scampi with a side of garlic ciabatta bread topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and black olives. Everything in this meal was something I already had in the house (or on the porch growing in little pots!). It wasn’t as good as I had imagined it would be — my own shrimp scampi never compares to what I get when I eat out, probably because I can’t bring myself to use an entire stick of butter — but it was still a good meal. Certainly not what you would expect when doing a pantry challenge, but that’s the great thing! I might not have hit upon even having this meal if I hadn’t been mulling over the ingredients I have on hand to see what kinds of combinations I could put together.
Given how easy it was for me to do this week — both lunches and dinners — I’m going to try for next week, too. Admittedly I haven’t been eating the most exciting things (unless faux oreos as the main entree counts as exciting), but that’s not so unusual. And also, lunches were easy. Three days of PB&J, with bread from last week, and the last two Lean Cuisines. Next week I will actually have to think about lunch, but that should be manageable. I’m pondering some kind of couscous and beans thing, but I could also do tuna. We’ll see how I feel on Monday.
Of course, this week I get a craving for takeout pizza. Usually I get takeout once every six months, and I wait until I really, really want something. I blame Beckett and Ellen.