Armageddon Pantry Challenge still a go

Yes, we’re still alive. For those of you wondering how the Armageddon Pantry Challenge is going, it’s great.

Week one was pretty easy, considering we had quite a bit of perishable stuff to eat through in the fridge. I would like to pay homage to our one and only bag of marshmallows, which was sacrificed for some delicious salted caramel Rice Krispy treats for my husband’s birthday treat last weekend.

For those of you who missed out on the rules for the challenge last week, this is an experiment to see how long our pantry stores would last if we just ate stocked-up food. I decided to take inventory after beginning the challenge (possibly a mistake to wait until after we started, but I figured if we truly had a situation where the grocery stores were picked clean, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to grab things we were low on, anyway).

The results of the cupboard inventory startled me a little bit. Clearly, my husband and I have different ideas about “stocking up” on “essentials.” The fact that we have 23 boxes of cereal reveals my husband will buy anything with a coupon, and he fears running out of his favorite breakfast. There’s only two of us ... and 23 boxes of cereal? Really?

On the other hand, I have a penchant for buying pasta on sale. It never goes bad. If it’s two boxes for $4, I’m stocking up. And no, I can’t just have one kind of noodles. We have all shapes of regular pasta, whole wheat pasta, soba noodles, you name it. And this is why we had 26 boxes of pasta, with probably one-third of them partially used.

Overall, the carb family is well-represented in the pantry.

The inventory also revealed an awful lot of dried beans (and 10 cans of beans, too), various kinds of rice (jasmine, brown, Arborio and white), couscous, polenta and quinoa. Yep, we’re into grains and fiber. We have roughly 10 pounds of flour and sugar, in addition to other staples such as cornmeal and oatmeal.

A mishmash of canned goods, such as coconut milk, condiments and various mixes rounded out the pantry.

As far as other preserved goods are concerned, I clearly made WAY too much jam last year and I’m wondering how long our 30 quarts of home-canned tomatoes will last.

I’m realizing the real challenge here isn’t how long we can last on our storage, it’s how to match the ingredients to make something edible. There’s a very strong chance we will run out of a particular staple and be stuck eating one thing for a long time if I’m not careful with meal planning.

This week’s menu was pretty normal, but I’m sure that won’t last forever. We ate a Costa Rican beans and rice dish called gallo pinto, linguini and clams and leftovers. Our allowable food purchases (veggies and fruit) totaled just over $11 for the week.

Planning ahead and improvisation are already proving to be valuable behaviors in this experiment. If I hadn’t decided I was going to make beans for the gallo pinto from scratch at least a day ahead of time, I wouldn’t have been able to soak them and cook them in the Crock-Pot.

I’m already missing the convenience of picking up a rotisserie chicken from the store on my way home for dinner.

If you’d like a more frequent update on how the experiment is going, and photos of some of our meals with some recipes, I’ve set up a blog at for your amusement.

Erin McIntyre is a writer, master gardener and owner of the gourmet pickle company, Yum Pickles. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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