When is a meal plan not a meal plan?

When you’re flying by the seat of your pants. When you’re planning NOT to plan. When you’re NOT SHOPPING. That’s when.

I mentioned last month that our usual week or two of pantry challenges, which we generally undertake in the run-up to the holidays to help offset our spending, would not be happening this year in quite the same way we’ve become accustomed to. Now it’s time to unveil the NEW RULES of the RRG Pantry Challenge….the mother of all pantry challenges.

For the month of December, we are not planning to do much grocery shopping. No, we will not allow ourselves to starve. Yes, we will buy staples, like milk and flour and some fruits and vegetables. However, instead of me deciding what we would like to eat and then buying the necessary ingredients, we’ll be looking at our freezer, refrigerator, and pantry each week, and deciding HOW LITTLE we can buy to supplement what’s already on hand without sacrificing our good health and nutrition unduly. In other words, I won’t be making any pot roasts unless the meat’s already in the freezer, and if I can either make alfredo sauce with what’s on hand or marinara with new items from the store, we’ll be eating alfredo.

It’s an odd, brave new world for me, since I’m a planner – I’m accustomed to waking up in the morning knowing exactly what’s for dinner not only that night, but for many nights to come.  Pantry challenges in the past have been both fun and exhausting for me because they force me to live day-to-day in the kitchen much more than I usually do. But now, doing it for a whole MONTH (okay…not quite, given holiday travel and all that), I’m both anxious and excited. Already I had a moment of panic this morning which has now largely dissipated in the wake of the realization that we have PLENTY of food on hand. It’s just a matter of me putting it all together in a way that makes sense.

I’ll be updating you all on our progress – what we eat, what we buy, how we manage – throughout the month, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m off to prep for tonight’s dinner. Wish me luck.

Please pardon the lighting...this is a hastily grabbed dining room shot!

Please pardon the lighting…this is a hastily grabbed dining room shot!

First Night:

DIY Salad Platter, baguette

Salad greens: Leftover from dinner with friends
Apples: Leftover from dinner with friends
Grape tomatoes: Leftover from picture pizzas
Pickled red cabbage: Leftover from schnitzel last week
Olives: Leftover from picture pizzas
Chopped scallions: Leftover from bibimbap
Dried cranberries: Leftover from dinner with friends
Carrots: Hanging out in the crisper
Goat cheese: Leftover from dinner with friends
Mozzarella: Leftover from picture pizzas
Pepperoni/prosciutto: Leftover from picture pizzas
Hardboiled eggs: On hand
Baguette and butter: On hand