Cooking for myself in the month of January means a major cleanse for my freezer and pantry, while hopefully boosting my wallet. After the excess of food and spending during the holidays, I like to issue myself a challenge in the New Year to only shop for perishable items like skim milk and fresh produce. Other than that, I try to go the entire month using all of that random stuff that builds up throughout the year.
If you're like me, then you have a few boxes or bags of whole-grain pasta that have less than one serving remaining. When combined with that random can of water-packed tuna and some white beans and fresh veggies, it becomes a hearty pasta dish. If there are leftovers, then you can serve them cold as a filling salad.
The four cans of fire-roasted tomatoes that I bought on sale in September are still sitting in the pantry, unused. When combined with the tiny amounts of frozen vegetables that have accumulated through the year, they'll make a great vegetable soup. For added protein, I can defrost that chicken I bought on sale or toss in that can of garbonzo beans sitting at the back of my pantry (for the hummus I intended to make, but never did).
Remember all of those frozen portions of soups, stews and casseroles you made and froze with great intentions of taking them to work for lunch? Well how about doing that now. Pair them with a simple salad for a satisfying lunch and clean out that freezer!
The chances of you making it to the end of the month on this plan might not be realistic. If you run out of pantry and freezer stuff before the end of the month, you win too because that means you're using what you buy and not letting things go to waste. But if you're like me, you're probably going to get close to the end of the month without any major spending and a clear picture of the things you tend not to use (like that can of sardines that seemed so healthy at the time, but which you just can't bring yourself to eat). By paying attention during the cleanse hopefully you'll carry some of the lessons with you throughout the rest of the year.
So, are you up for the challenge? What's in your pantry/freezer and how are you going to prepare it?