Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fast Food Nation

My daughters (collectively known as TheMartianMidgets) have spent the past month at home from college for winter break. The biggest difference that I notice is the dwindling amount of foodstuffs in my house.Over the summer,I spent an inordinate amount of time stocking my deep freezer and two refrigerators with fresh veggies from the farmer's market and from my garden. I shopped every sale at the grocery store to put away bulk quantities of chicken, fish and beef for the main carnivore and chief grillmaster in our house, TheMartianMan. I truly thought that I had squirrelled away enough of the basic ingredients to get us through the majority of the winter. Apparently, I was wrong.

During the summer, there were more daylight hours to prepare food for storage and I was able to create my own convenience food items. My frozen containers of macaroni and cheese and pasta with sauce are far superior to any purchased in the freezer case at the supermarket. (If I do say so myself!) With shorter winter days and longer working hours, my convenience foods provide me with a quick way to start dinner and something healthy (and inexpensive) to carry to work for lunches.

Peering into my nearly empty cabinets , refrigerators and freezers, I determined a few days ago that I will again need to re-stock. I began by making cookie mixes. I know that cookies aren't really necessary to survival but they do make life worth living for, especially if there is chocolate involved! I filled plastic Zip-Loc bags with the basic ingredients for chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal(no raisins), chocolate chip peanut butter and sugar cookies. On the outside of each bag, I listed the additional wet ingredients that would need to be added to complete each recipe. It went very quickly and I soon had 12 bags of cookie mix assembled.Once the mixes have been used, I save the bags for re-filling.

I repeated the same steps to make cornbread mix, biscuit mix and a basic muffin mix. For muffins, any mashed fruit can be added to the mix to add flavor. Over the next few days, I will set about the task of restocking the freezer with main dishes like the aforementioned mac and cheese, lasagna, soup, chili, stew, and anything else that I can think of. I'm already watching the grocery store sales for meat. In this tight economy, a well-stocked pantry buys me some peace of mind. The kids will be going back to college in a few days. Then the countdown begins for spring break when my pantry will take another hit...

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