As you know, I love to cook and to experiment with new cuisines. Ethiopian, French, Indian, Thai, Russian, Italian, South American, Greek, Swedish—we often use our kitchen to travel around the world and to experience new tastes and cultures in our home. Just as often, we have our globe in the middle of our kitchen table; if our meal hails from a different country, we use the food as a way into discussing a new place.

Both children, though particularly Eric, are adventurous eaters. Katie tends to enjoy a handful of items over a fixed period of time—I describe her frequently as a “phase” eater—and Eric seems to savor anything put in front of him at any time, even sneaking bites of Play-Doh here and there before I can stop him. We love Thai soup, fish, lentils, goat cheese with basil and sundried tomato, blueberry Stilton, squaw bread spread with roasted red pepper hummus, tofu, olives, pesto, couscous…

Of course the drawback to being a foodie cook is that on more than one occasion I end up with specialty ingredients left in my pantry or freezer. Perhaps I needed only a couple of drops of Mongolian chili oil. Grits come in fairly big boxes. I only needed 3/4 cup of chopped pecans and have 1/4 left (nevermind that I probably should have purchased the big bag from Costco and chopped them myself).

Thus the stash of items in my pantry increases.

Given that Eric’s party has been approaching, and as I look at the collection of cozy recipes I am eager to try in Autumn, and also knowing that all products have limited shelf-life, I have been the last 2.5 weeks “stashbusting” my pantry and freezer. The parameters I set for myself to play this game: 1) No purchases of non-perishables allowed; 2) May purchase fresh dairy and produce; 3) Try to use up as many products as possible, no matter how odd the menus.

One last normal shopping trip before the stashbust. Katie is picking out Daddy’s favorite peanut butter.

I admit to breaking the rule a couple of times and buying something for the kiddos, and I also cracked and bought bread. Just cannot live without bread—although, I shouldn’t have cheated because I have all the materials necessary to make homemade bread and do so often. I admit that breaking the rule for the bread was an issue of time management. We were also fortunate to have a few packs of frozen proteins in the freezer.

So how is the stashbust going? Well, we’ve had a dinner of almond butter and honey sandwiches, bananas, and milk; a dinner of barbecue chicken, the rest of the frozen sweet potato fries, and a can of beans; red beans and rice; soups galore; breakfast burritos… in short, nothing too outlandish yet. Sometimes the combinations get a little funky, but for the most part it feels fairly normal. I think I am going to continue the stashbust for another couple of weeks after Eric’s party. I’ve made dents, but there is a bit to go. I need some creative time one night to sit down with some of the more rare items and figure out what to do with them.

The next major market trip is for Eric’s birthday food.

Has anyone tried to stashbust a kitchen before? What was your most outlandish meal?

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