Kitchens are where it’s at, literally. At least one of our basic necessities (food, shelter, clothing) is centered here. A friend just reminded me today that food is supposed to go bad! That’s right, real food isn’t made to sit on pantry shelves forever. If “food” has enough preservatives to last for years on a shelf, it isn’t healthy for our bodies. Freezer storage is generally only recommended for about six months before food loses nutrients and flavor.
Did you set some health goals for yourself in the New Year? If you decided that certain chips, cereal, mixes and sweets wouldn’t be good for your new goals, then donate those items to your local food bank, rather than leaving them in your pantry, waiting for you to slip back into your old habits.
Several times a year I get to work with families trying to fit their groceries in the pantry or cabinets, but what we discover is that the food on the back of the shelves is expired. Sure, some brave souls claim that they are willing to take a chance and eat it anyway…but they don’t eat it or they would have already.
Instead, we buy more, because it’s easier than figuring out how to put together a meal.
We get bored with making the same old thing.
We get frustrated that we aren’t a great cook.
We get excited about the latest fad diet or fad ingredient.
We expect that every day is supposed to be some kind of culinary experience.
We forget about those cooking gadgets that were supposed to make cooking at home easier and better.
We forget that making food from food (not from boxes) is better for us and for the planet, short and long term.
When you organize your kitchen this week, I’d rather you NOT throw out stuff. In fact, could we pinkie -promise each other that we’ll do our best not to throw out food this year? Stats say that the average household throws out between $640 and $2,200 worth of food each year! (Fool.com/2016, CNBC.com/2015) You can probably find better things to do with that money.
If you take a look at your kitchen, and you can’t find any shelf, pantry or counter space to put one more thing, maybe drop off a couple of bags of food to the local food bank. Food banks generally can’t accept expired foods, so donate the good stuff that hasn’t expired yet, and plan meals for yourself with food that might have just expired. Don’t know where the local food banks are? You can google “food bank near me” or drop off at your local church or place of worship, which usually offers social support in each community.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could organize without actually decluttering? Dealing with your excess food stock is the one place in your house where you can actually do that. Remember, I’m the organizer who wants you to stop decluttering!
Today’s post is really a two-for-one. It’s encouragement to sort through your food and make deliberate choices about what stays and goes, what should be eaten immediately and what can be donated before it expires. But I also want to give you a time-saving recipe that can be cooking while you are organizing your pantry.
Throughout this month, as you tackle your organizing projects, if you plan your meals just one day ahead, you can end up with plenty of time for those other organizing projects. To get you in the mood, here’s my favorite winter soup recipe that you can make in a slow cooker. You can also make it on the stove or in that shiny new Instant Pot that Santa brought you as well. Someone please check in with me and let me know how it turns out in an Instant Pot, okay?
Fish Corn Chowder for the Slow Cooker
- 2 frozen flounder fillets (you can substitute your favorite fish), still frozen
- 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- 3-4 small or medium white potatoes, peeled and diced into small chunks
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 2 cups water
- ½ tsp dried dill
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper (optional)
- Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.
- Cook on low 7-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.
- Do not stir while cooking.
- Stir just before serving to break up the fish fillets, if needed.
Fish Corn Chowder for the Slow Cooker adaptations for the stove top:
Put all ingredients in a pot. Cover. Cook on low to medium until done, about an hour.
Fish Corn Chowder for the Slow Cooker adaptations for the Instant Pot:
My research tells me that you would choose the Slow Cooker option set to “more” for at least 8 hours. If you try this in your Instant Pot, would you let me know if this works for you?
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