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Cooking for family makes more than food

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Kitchen Fasting

I have a friend that periodically fasts in order to clear out her system.  She drinks certain teas and eschews chewing for at least a day or so in an effort to rid her body of toxins.  Now, although I don't do this, I do see the benefit and I've started to apply this approach to my kitchen...yes, my kitchen.

You see, from pay period to pay period I collect food in excess of my family's needs and find myself with something like eight cans of French onion soup, twenty plus almost ready to expire snack bags, more Bisquick than I can shake a stick at and a freezer with half-bags of frozen veggies, one pork chop, three opened bags of French fries and a bevy of plastic wrapped chicken thighs randomly tossed about.

When this state of affairs gets to the point of storage anarchy I decide that I need to clear things out and go on a food buying fast.

This may seem easier than it really is.  One of the problems is that there may not be enough of a particular food to make a whole meal for the family.  Another is that a lot of what's left in the fridge is food that the kids either didn't want to eat in the first place (experiments) or grew tired of.

This is where the creativity comes in (either that or the dogs). For instance, I had about a half pound of frozen chop meat, a jar of mac and cheese sauce whose twin the kids didn't like, three partially used boxes of linguine and a dusty (unopened) packet of chili mix just sitting in their respective storage areas waiting for the grim chucker to send them on their way to the land fill.

Then I remembered a dish one of my friends at work mentioned: a chili-cheese casserole which he thought my kids would love.  Now, I didn't have the macaroni or twirly pasta that he recommended, but I did have linguini and I did have my quest for ingredient frugality. So I thawed and fried up the chop meat, added some water as per the chili package recipe, added the chili seasoning and added the cheese sauce.  After cooking the linguini, I put the pasta in a bowl and generously covered it with the chili-cheese concoction.  Along with a quickly thrown together salad of lettuce and cucumber and my frugal feast was a hit!

This is just one example of many creative combinations that I've come up with when pressed with the limitation of using only in-house ingredients.  It may not be haut cuisine, but it does take care of two important needs - feeding the kids and using up food that would otherwise would have been thrown out.

So I encourage you to occasionally put the breaks on that food spending compulsion, take stock of what you have in the house and push those boundaries of culinary coupling.  It's fun and it's good for your fridges digestion!