Na Na pinches her pennies

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Food storage clean out

A few days ago I was trying to decide what to make for my evening meal.  I looked at the food storage shelves which were filled but were in a disorganized mess.  It needed re-organizing.

I kept looking at all that food and asking myself why do I have so much?  There is only me and once in a while Ladybug.  Why am I keeping stuff I’m not eating?  Its difficult to come up with a meal when the food is so unorganized.  I started sorting through and organizing for quicker meal choices.  The commodity milk was way outdated by about six months. I have no idea why I kept it so long except that I haven’t cooked any recipe using milk for several months. I opened and poured out the clotted milk so the boxes could go to recycling.  Gee. it felt so wasteful.

I keep asking myself why am I keeping food I obviously don’t want to eat?  My appetite has changed.  I can’t give it away if no one wants the food even if its free.  I discovered almost all my spices were way outdated too.  I call them spice even though some are dried herbs. I had pickling spice but haven’t made pickles in a long time.  I had junket tablets but haven’t made ice cream or cheese for at least three years.

I had summer savory and Italian seasoning at least two years outdated.  These things don’t last longer than a few months so I ask myself why do I still have them taking up space?  Duh!  Its pretty obvious I was keeping them for show rather than actually using them otherwise they would not be so outdated.

I kept empty instant coffee jars because they are pretty and thought I’d use them to store dry food.  Again I ask myself so why are they setting on the shelf empty?  I have all those canning jars to store dry food which means the coffee jars are not needed.  I gave them away on freecycle along with some of the canned food.  Everything is much better organized now and nothing is outdated.  I hope I can keep it that way.

I still had way more than necessary.  There was a postal service food drive coming up in a few days.  I gathered up more of the food to donate being careful none of it was short dated or out dated.  What’s left is good food but I really don’t need so much.  I ask myself again, if I’m not eating it why am I storing it?

Actually I would love to figure out how to store my food in the kitchen instead of a bedroom.  There just doesn’t seem to be a good place because of how the house is built.  Apparently canning/food storage wasn’t on the mind of the original builder so space for it wasn’t included.  I probably will narrow the food more as I eat down the pantry.  I’m pretty sure that through the summer I’ll be eating more fresh veggies because there is a once a week farmer’s market opened close enough to walk.  I’m excited.  Anything will be better than carrots, cabbage, onions, and potatoes which I’m sure tired of eating.

23 comments on “Food storage clean out

  1. jestjack
    May 25, 2018

    You are an inspiration….DW and I have found as time goes on the biggest challenge is to keep food from going bad before it is consumed. We hate food waste and food certainly isn’t getting any cheaper. Just started our garden…and got tomatoes in the ground. Any more thoughts to a garden? Squash and tomatoes are pretty hardy and don’t require a lot of work. Our garden makes a big difference in the food budget….

    Like

    • Anita
      May 25, 2018

      Sure I understand. Because that was my problem until I realized if food is going bad then I simply had too much. So now I plan to keep much less. Just like my food storage I’ve had to rethink my garden wish. I won’t be having a regular garden because I can’t handle the physical work involved or the expense of getting it started. A few small plants in pots will be the best I can do. Being old is the pits.

      Like

    • catherine young
      May 25, 2018

      She is an inspiration! I wish she’d write more as I am struggling with many of same issues.

      Tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers. Bought some inexpensive raspberry bushes this year. Strawberries last year. That’s about it for me though Im looking at sugar snaps for future. I’d love some of those tiny round onions but no idea how they would grow in a garden

      Carrots, potatoes, onions and cabbage, I can get in abundance cheap or for free. They remain staples for me. Tonight pork slices from a huge cheap roast i bought (1/3 became a roast with mashed potatoes and glazed carrots—leftover for stir fry with carrots and cabbage, 1/3 cut into stew meat for a pork curry with onions, potatoes and carrot chunks—leftovers in freezer ). This last bit will be sliced into “chops”, pan fried and service with roasted potatoes chunks and steamed broccoli tonight.

      Like

  2. Margie in Toronto
    May 22, 2018

    I think reassessing our wants & needs every year or so is a good thing and helps to ensure that things don’t go to waste. I make it a habit now to go through my pantry about once a month and if anything is getting close to it’s “Use by Date” then I move it to the kitchen and make sure to incorporate it in to my next week’s meal plan.
    Our preferences change and our dietary needs as well so doing what you’ve done is a very sensible thing.
    We’ve all bought things and then never seemed to get around to using it – so if others can use it then great – I just try to remind myself not to buy it again!
    I know that my eating choices change quite drastically over the summer so some things need to be used up now and then others will be consumed over the next few months.

    Like

    • Anita
      May 23, 2018

      You are right Margie, I do need to make cleaning out the food storage a regular habit. Keeping food for only one person and not a whole neighborhood is a new experience for me. I have to remember I don’t need large economy sizes anymore either.

      Like

  3. T
    May 22, 2018

    My son grew up!

    Like

    • Anita
      May 23, 2018

      Oh I forgot about that. I didn’t realize its graduation season already.

      Like

      • T
        May 24, 2018

        It’s more about me Anita than him, he doesn’t seem much different to be honest! But I don’t feel responsible any more, he’s had a fantastic start in life finncially ( no debt so far ) and I have done without all sorts of things for a long time. He’s old enough to provide for himself now, and make his own choices and take responsibility for them.

        He’ll thank me one day : )

        Like

        • Anita
          May 25, 2018

          I should be taking lessons from you. My daughter is 36 with a house full of kids and still seems to think my name is Bank of Anita.

          Like

          • T
            May 25, 2018

            It’s not easy. The world has changed and so much in the US is run as a scam now- education, healthcare, church even, the young people don’t stand much chance at living life responsibly when everything they encounter encourages them to get into debt and service that debt!

            But as you have found, the longer you keep helping the longer they need help, and it makes my son anxious and angry to ask for or need help, a sure sign he needs to provide for himself. He won’t be homeless- he has access to student loans whilst he works it out ( and I can always pay them off later if I want to help more ) but for now I feel like we need a financial parting of the ways.

            It’s a very liberating thing to know you have skills and aptitude to go make a few bucks and not be dependent or beholden to anyone, not have to follow anyone else’s ‘rules’. At my son’s age and younger I cleaned- homes, offices, stores, when there wasn’t any other way to make money, I just needed the income and the independence. It gave me confidence to go knocking on doors and asking for opportunities and survive the knock-backs as well as develop stamina and a sense of honor about completing a job well.

            One of my friends said yesterday she worries constantly about the future- even though she’s received benefits for years and endless family support, and has numerous doctors supposedly managing her health. I worry about practicalities out of my reach ( becoming sick or disabled is a bit of a nightmare in the US ) but so long as I can work and budget and keep as much as possible within my simple lifestyle control strategy I’ll be fine.

            Bank of Anita…where do I apply for an account?!

            Like

          • Anita
            May 25, 2018

            Bank of Anita has gone out of business. 🙂 I told my daughter no more loans. Her budget is her own responsibility and not mine. I have needs too and no one is going to bail me out if I spend too much or fail to set aside money to pay a bill. I’m tired of standing in food bank lines when she’s having back yard cookouts for the in-laws. That’s an exaggeration but makes my point. Its time for her to grow up and become the new Bank of Mom to her own kids.

            Like

          • Teri
            May 26, 2018

            Way to go, Anita! I’m cheering for you for setting and keeping healthy boundaries with your grown daughter! How empowering for you, as well as for her, to learn that struggle oftentimes is our best teacher…we learn that we are capable of rising to challenges and being creative and resourceful in meeting our needs! Yay for Anita!!

            Like

          • catherine young
            May 25, 2018

            Some of your surplus food and stored items, thoughtfully selected might help your daughter and her children rather than cash which can too often make its way to purposes other than intended.

            I have become much more selective on how I help or gift my kids. They we’re becoming dependent and expectant of my assistance instead of purely grateful and considering it an extra. Wasn’t doing them any favors

            Like

          • Anita
            May 25, 2018

            My daughter does take what they will eat and it does help some. I don’t have an abundance of diapers or kids size shoes stored away so that I can offer them to her. There are times when a prescription needs to be filled for one at the same time as the utility bill is due and she’s about to run out of diapers and pull ups. So she asks Bank of Anita for a loan. A loan which didn’t always get paid back. I’ve told her NO MORE LOANS. Her budget is her responsibility, not mine. Its hard to watch but must be done because, like you said, she was becoming dependent and expectant of my assistance.

            Like

  4. Delorise
    May 22, 2018

    A couple weeks ago I bought a bag of onions and lo my sister was nice enough to give me fresh Vidalia onions so I passed what was left of the bag of onions onto a friend. She was thrilled and told me she would be using them in meal preparation that night. I went thru my cabinets and pantry just last week and found items close to expiration so I will be planning my meals around those. I hate food waste and have vowed to be more diligent in my purchases– it isn’t a deal if you throw it in the trash– just wasted money. Your rearranging/cleaning out of the shelves looks great.

    Like

    • Anita
      May 23, 2018

      So true, it isn’t a good bargain if its bought and ends up in the trash. I have to train myself to buy only what a single person needs which isn’t difficult since I have so little money. Going to the food bank is difficult. We aren’t given choices there. You take what you are given and then try to find someone who can use the excess. I have to figure out what to do with the excess if no one wants it.

      Like

      • T
        May 24, 2018

        I have recycled as much as I can manage for the library/church garage sale/ goodwill during this move, but I am at the point of stop spending and start tossing stuff without an obvius need/home.

        Think I will make July and August ‘no spend’ months to recuperate a bit! I have all my art and writing supplies and several free or inexpensive activities planned.

        Soon be fall, my favorite time of year, and I get a new energy then when the heat starts to fade. New place is way cheaper for electricity and I’m not installing cable or internet, at least not at first and not unless I really really miss it. I don’t think I will.

        Like

  5. catherine young
    May 22, 2018

    It’s not easy to keep extra food for emergencies. Most things do have expiration dates. So the trick is to store things that you can use now as well. And you replenish as you see good deals even as you then use what you have stockpiled.

    I have simplified my meals. I eat less, but better. Healthier and better things but less food.

    Like

    • Anita
      May 22, 2018

      My problem has been getting used to doing things differently than I did for many years. I was the neighborhood person to store food for everyone but I’m not anymore. I’ve gone from having a really large freezer and a whole room full of food for everyone who needed it to being the only one using the food. I eat very little and no one is knocking on my door for a food handout anymore so I’m having to re-train my brain to stop storing so much.

      Like

  6. T
    May 22, 2018

    Carrots cabbage onions and potatoes ( or sweet potato or cauliflower ) are almost always affordable here fresh, so I have stopped storing them too, along with many other foods. Just a few things in case of a storm or power outage.

    I’ve developed a taste for fine cheese so stopped buying cheap ‘cooking cheese’ and buy a nice piece of gourmet cheese instead. No big appetite here either Anita, but my diabetes is gone. If I feel the need for sugar treats I buy good German candies, so-called artisan yogurt or high cocoa solid chocolate from North America or Europe. The higher the quality the smaller the amount which satisfies I am finding.

    I’m having fun finding new ways to live, some cheaper, some spending a bit on myself now I have no financial responsibilities and can afford to!

    Enjoy yourself ( remember the song:
    ‘You work and work for years and years, you’re always on the go
    You never take a minute off, too busy makin’ dough
    Someday, you say, you’ll have your fun, when you’re a millionaire-
    Imagine all the fun you’ll have in your old rockin’ chair.
    Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
    Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
    The years go by, as quickly as a wink
    Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think…’ )

    ~Tracy

    Like

    • Anita
      May 22, 2018

      Those four foods are what I would get from the food bank week after week, month after month. I’ve eaten them so often the last few years that I’m truly burned out on finding new ways to cook them. I’ve had a strange craving for fettuccine Alfredo or gazpacho or just pieces of fruit for the last few days. I’ve been drinking a lot of lemonade too. Probably effects of the heat without AC. Given a choice I’d rather have veggies and fruit anytime. Did I miss something? What did you mean no financial responsibilities?

      Like

      • catherine young
        May 25, 2018

        Whttp://the99centchef.blogspot.com/2010/10/fettuccine-alfredo.html?m=1
        I have a budget faux penne vodka too that I love. And Aldi has a cheap pesto for that over pasta Gazpacho is basically tomatoes which is why my garden can never grow enough of them. When you cook for just one, you can splurge a bit especially if you keep portions small. Most of us don’t need extra weight. Save money on food and get healthier too. Avocados are cheap this year for some reason so I’m enjoying guacamole, usually a rare splurge. Roasting and grilling veggies give them new flavor too.

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        • Anita
          May 25, 2018

          I’m finding the happiest part of shopping and cooking for one is the “smaller” portion sizes. Like you said, I can splurge a bit and buy single vegetables I might not buy in large packages.

          Like

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This entry was posted on May 22, 2018 by in DOWNSIZING MY LIFE, ORGANIZE.

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