Culinary Surprises

In an effort to waste as little as possible, I’ve been focusing on eating the food we have. It doesn’t mean we don’t ever go to the grocery store, but when we have food in the freezer and pantry – why not eat that first?

In the beginning of this commitment, it was rather easy. I had frozen spaghetti sauce or lasagna to fall back on. Being that we had 3 kids, I only ever learned to cook in large portions, so we’ve always had left overs, even though they’re all off to school. Over time,  this decision has gotten more challenging.

I’ve made smoothies, from small remnants of frozen fruits, that even I had a hard time choking down. And Pasta ‘surprises’ that included some small portions of frozen vegetables and multiple types of pasta. I’ll concede it was a dish that was visually challenging. Then Pancakes for dinner – to use up some aging pancake mix. Jeff has eaten it all and rarely complained. Although, he’s cagey in his critiques.

‘Interesting pasta.’ he said, after one particularly creative dinner. ‘Are we having that tomorrow night too?’

‘Why? Did you like it?’

‘It was unusual.’

‘Unusual bad or unusual good?’

‘Neither – just different.’

”Different’ in Jeff speak is the kiss of death. If I bring home new shoes and he says ‘Hmmm. They’re different’ those shoes are going back to the store. Unfortunately, there is more ‘Different’ in Jeff’s near term culinary future – as we get down to the wire.

Tonight, he’s enjoying ‘Potato Surprise’, and later this week I’m making a multi-bean soup with mystery spices from packets, where I’m not quite sure of the contents. That should be fun!

In this process, I’ve discovered that we had stocked up on stupid things – things I don’t remember buying and never eat.  I’ve got so much chocolate pudding in the pantry, I’ve started freezing it in the Popsicle forms I had from my kids when they were little. Jeff has dubbed them ‘Poop Pops’ because he says they look like frozen poo. But he eats them for desert. What choice does he have, really?

By my calculations, we should be able to eat through our pantry, with very little left, by mid-January. Then we’ll only purchase food that we’ll immediately consume, but that’s a ways out. We did invite Jeff’s Mom over for Christmas dinner.

‘No ‘Surprise’ dinner that day, right?’ he asked. ‘I don’t think my Mom would care if you made lasagna or something like that – but don’t add in old random pasta or dried squash or something. Let’s just make it a regular food day, like normal people.’

I was a little offended that he would think I wouldn’t make our Christmas dinner special. I did have my eye on two old boxes of Rice-A-Roni and was wondering if I could conjure up something festive with the two cans Cream of Chicken soup I have left. But I’ll hold off on that. Rice-A-Roni Surprise will have to wait for another day.

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