No Shopping: What We’re Working With

I recently visited a new friend’s house for the first time. She had just gone grocery shopping, and I helped her unload the food and put it away. When she opened her pantry, you could see the shelves. Everything was neatly organized. She could tell at a glance what she did and didn’t have.

My pantry is not like this.


This is most of what’s in the pantry. (You can’t see the top shelf, which is crammed with cereal, wine, and some bulky things like my pasta machine and a foodservice roll of plastic wrap.) On the door are all my child’s snack foods, dried fruit and nuts, and the plastic baggies I use to assemble lunches for my husband and son.

From top to bottom, you can see my condiment shelf–four different ages of balsamic vinegar, salsas, oils, Asian ingredients, etc. Then there’s the baking shelf, with regular and vanilla sugars, several types of chocolate and flour, sticky things like sorghum, molasses and corn syrup, and my decaffeinated iced tea bags. Then there’s the grains and beans shelf, where rice and pasta go to die. And then we have “everything else”–canned tomatoes, popcorn, Splenda for my tea and coffee, big jugs of vinegars, onions in a supermarket sack so the skins don’t fly all over the place.

Then there’s the side-by-side fridge and freezer.

Condiments and beverages in the door of the fridge. I like to segregate butter and cream cheese so they don’t pick up aromas and flavors from other stuff. My husband loves yogurt, but we’re almost out. The Ziploc coffins hold mostly leftovers from a recent tasting. You can see a locally raised brisket thawing on the bottom shelf for our Passover celebration this Friday. (We often have to observe holidays and birthdays around when they are “supposed” to be celebrated.)

The freezer door holds mostly ice packs and things like frozen corn and peas that we often use for quick accessories to my son’s meals. (He’s not that fond of salads.) The big bag on the top shelf of the freezer holds the fish sticks my son adores. There are duck demi, veal demi and chicken stocks on the top shelf, along with a loaf of garlic-studded crusty bread from Costco. I can see oxtails, chicken consomme in the big deli cup, frozen phyllo and puff pastry, frozen spinach, bagels, maple butter, and a few emergency Lean Cuisines that are a couple of years old hanging out in there. Who knows what’s behind all that?

Finally, the chest freezer:

You can see bagels and the flat cut of the same brisket (the point was in the fridge) at the top of the abyss. I plan to corn the flat. There are also chicken wings, lots of chicken stock, beef short ribs, some local “rose” veal bones I never turned into demi-glace, and some chicken breasts visible. Underneath I know I have some brownies, some onion rye bread from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, ground turkey, and a few other things. The thickness of the ice in here betrays how embarrassingly long it has been since I defrosted and cleaned this freezer.

So that’s what we have to work with. Clearly, nobody in this house is going to starve any time soon! We really need to cook it and get it out of here.


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