Don’t stockpile food and leave it to go to waste; cook and eat it.
Don’t stockpile food and leave it to go to waste; cook and eat it. Thinkstock

Pantry spring clean to get rid of those 'mystery bags'

EVERY time I go shopping I buy the usual suspects most families buy. Bread, milk, mince, eggs and chicken. Nothing unusual.

But on checking out my freezer lately, it is chock-a-block full of mince, chicken, steakettes etc that have been purchased on sale during previous shopping trips and forgotten about.

Lost under loaves of frozen bread, bags of peas I never eat and garlic breads. Plus there are little "mystery bags" of frozen meat. Meat I separated into meal-size portions, wrapped lovingly, then shoved in the freezer without a label for me to now guess the contents.

The pantry is full - yet there is never anything to eat. So I go and buy more - and the problem compounds.

About six weeks ago, I decided we would no longer buy anything at the supermarket except for fresh fruit, vegies and milk - and we've been trying to use up all those items in both the pantry and freezer.

All those cans of soup in the pantry have been turned into casserole meals with the frozen chicken and the frozen peas. Canned soup, although high in salt, is a great sauce base for casseroles and bakes.

Two ingredient scones: Take any can of soup, add four cups of self raising flour, knead and bake for 15 minutes, and you have scones.

The 4kg of rice noodles that have been sitting there for eons have been turned into noodle omelettes, san choy bow (a fancy name for mince and noodles in a lettuce cup) and a very innovative rice macaroni cheese.

I've been making my own bread and pizza bases in my bread maker. So easy and delicious and, believe it or not, when it comes to multigrain and wholemeal loaves, bread mixes are cheaper every time.

Not only has my shopping bill decreased by over 60%, we are eating really, really well. It is so easy to get stale in the kitchen when there is too much choice.

So my challenge to you this week is to take stock of what is in your freezer and pantry. Design your nightly meals around what you can use up. Get back into the kitchen and get creative. You never know, it might be the perfect time to come up with a new signature dish.

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay At Home Mum:

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