With our recent PCS pack out and our impending move to a remote location, the issue of efficiently utilizing our resources has been on my mind. Because of the location of our new duty station, we will be ordering our food from the commissary through an order form and it will be delivered in three-month intervals. While I am not exactly sure of all the details of how it will work, I recognize that preparing, organizing, and being aware of what we consume will be very important. With a PCS move almost always on the horizon for most of us, learning to use all of the food that we bring home can save us that last minute rush to find friends to take our leftover food (not to mention save money!) Completely using what resources we do have will allow us to not waste food and money and will make sure that we are completely conscience of what we consume so that we can make good decisions on what we bring home in the future.
Whether you are making a conscience effort to become aware of what you consume so that you don't run out of your food supply, are preparing for a move, or are just working hard at not being wasteful, one of the best ways to to become a prepared consumer is to take stock and learn to "shop from home." Taking a week every month or two to use up food in your own pantry is a great challenge that can teach your kids important lessons about not wasting food and will encourage creativity in the kitchen. Here are some practical tips to put the "shop at home" challenge to work for you:
- Take stock of what you have. Make a list or merely reorganize your pantry so that you can clearly see what you have in your home inventory.
- Think outside of the box when you menu plan. Don't have any ground beef but all the fix in's for taco night? Try a vegetarian recipe. Still have too many canned beans on the shelf? Try making a dip instead (or how about black bean brownies?) One of our favorite things to do: breakfast for dinner!
- Play a game (and teach a lesson!) Issue an Iron Chef-type challenge to your teen to create a meal using an unusual pantry ingredient. Have your child pick a food and have them research where the food is grown and how it is cooked in different countries. Getting kids involved in the food preparation makes it less likely that they reject unusual recipes or foods.