Pantry Challenge going ‘til the last rice grain

I’m pretty sure the Armageddon Pantry Challenge could last a few more months. On Day 65, I’m as surprised as anyone about this.

Seriously. I had no idea that the combination of our food-hoarding abilities, penchant for sale-priced dry goods, and knack for making a mishmash of ingredients edible would turn out this well (or awful, depending on who you ask around here).

Why has our food storage lasted so long? I’d like to take the opportunity to answer a few questions various interested parties have had about this.

No, we didn’t “stock up” on purpose before the challenge started. There was the ONE jar of mayonnaise that someone felt desperate to make sure was in the cupboard on Day 1. Hint: I hate mayonnaise.

And by the way, we’re nearly out of frozen turkey lunch meat in the freezer, so I don’t know what the hubster plans on eating with the rest of that mayo.

No, I’m not a “doomsday prepper.” I’ve realized that my tongue-in-cheek name for the challenge may have hinted at this for some readers who are familiar with the term. After receiving an invitation to tour someone’s homemade compound/bomb shelter I realized this special-interest group exists and I assure you, we don’t have stockpiles of food, toilet paper or ammunition. Just so you know.

Yes, my husband is still living (and eating) at home. Really. And as far as I know, he does not have a secret stash of snacks at work, he doesn’t eat lunch out every day, and the desk drawer full of potato chips is no more. I think. Unless a coworker is smuggling them in…

Why do I have so much beans and rice? Well, beans and rice are economical. Think of what people eat in third-world countries. They last, apparently almost forever. Lucky for me, there’s no expiration date. (Remember the pudding incident?)

Have we “cheated” on the challenge? We’ve gone out to dinner five times since the challenge started. Five times in 65 days. All but one of these times were with friends or on a trip out of town. I don’t think that’s unreasonable but I will admit to having a twinge of guilt as I perused the menus. I sort of feel like it’s been balanced out by cooking meals for neighbors (yes, using only pantry food) or having people over and begging them to eat our food so this experiment will be over sooner.

Am I tired of cooking all this stuff yet? Kind of. I prepared most of our meals before the challenge, which is probably part of the reason we have so many staples in the cupboard. Many of my friends who say they could only last a week or so on their pantry don’t really cook much at home, which is why they’re so shocked when they see my food storage. I actually enjoy making new recipes (which the challenge has definitely forced me to do). We’ve eaten some slightly-burned crepes and delicious tortillas that look rather like amoebas since I haven’t perfected rolling out a circle of dough.

It’s not so much the cooking that is getting old. It’s the lack of convenience and the inability to have my husband “cook” that night, which means get take-out, order a pizza or pick up a rotisserie chicken and a bag of pre-washed salad.

How long can this go on? Hmm. This is a point of contention. Hubby says we’ve proved our point and this nonsense should be over. I’m clinging to the challenge until the last grain of rice is consumed (or maybe when we run out of coffee?). You can check out our progress until our next official update at westlifegj.wordpress.com.

On another topic…

The Western Colorado Botanical Gardens will host its annual Bloomin’ Deals Plant Sale today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gardens are located at 641 Struthers Ave. in Grand Junction. For information, call 245-3288.

And the Montrose Botanical Gardens will host its annual plant sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11. They’ll have shrubs, veggies, annuals and perennials available at their biggest sale of the year. It just so happens that the Montrose Wine and Food Festival also is scheduled for that day at the Montrose Pavilion, adjacent to the gardens.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.

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