Eat Local Challenge #1

Let’s Start With Your Pantry

There is nothing like a pantry purge for getting a fresh start in the kitchen.

Quick question: What do you rely on most when cooking dinner? Perhaps it’s a well-stocked pantry. Whether you have a “Tiny House” sized kitchen or an enormous walk-in pantry, you undoubtedly have a place to store your staple ingredients. The trouble is that some of those long-lasting ingredients can linger in the back reaches of the cabinet… way too long. And even if your pantry doesn’t need a purge, now is a good time to identify any ingredients that need to be consumed right away or moved to the back of the shelf until after the Eat Local Challenge.

It may not be the most exciting project that we have in store for you this month, but it will make each day in the Challenge so much easier when you can access what you need in your pantry. Being able to quickly see your local ingredients will encourage you to cook with them and you will be well on the way to lots of healthy eating at home. Let’s do this — your assignment awaits!

Today’s Assignment:

Purge Your Pantry

You can do this assignment in about 30–60 minutes. Here are some tips:

  1. Clear off each shelf or section at a time. Toss any ingredients that have gone bad or expired, and wipe down each shelf if it needs it.
  2. Put any items that are good but need to be consumed within the next month up front so that you can use them. These might not be local but to keep from being wasteful it’s perfectly acceptable to use these up. Alternatively, you can give them to a friend or donate to a food bank.
  3. Identify any non-local ingredients that are shelf stable and will be fine to use in a month. Put these in the back of the cabinet or hide these in a box if you think you will be tempted!
  4. Identify any local ingredients and put them right up front, where you can quickly get to them. How to tell if it’s local? Is it produced within 100 or 200 miles? Is it a local company from our county or region. If it’s difficult to decide, think in terms of concentric circles: try to source the easier things like fruits and vegetables from as close as possible (our backyards, cities and farmers markets); harder things like dairy, meat, grains and condiments can be regionally produced; for really difficult things like spices and tropical ingredients, try to source a local company, i.e. locally roasted coffee or locally packaged spices.
  5. Now that your risotto and your dried porcini mushrooms are in the back of the cabinet and your local jam, vinegar and honey is up front, it’s time to make a list of some pantry staples that you need. You might be able to do without risotto for a month, but you’ll probably need some local olive oil and other ingredients to replenish any imported ones that you are saving for later.
  6. When you are done, celebrate with a local beverage of your choice!

Click below to check out the video related to this project:


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