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your fridge and pantry-anything to eat in there!?

Depending on when i get my groceries (I live alone)....I can have a blocked pantry, spice cupboard and at least a half full fridge...and not one damn thing to actually eat !! lol.

I seem to be a condiment, spice, ingredient etc...hoarder.....Not one shelf in my fridge is empty right now...but it's filled with several different mustards, pickles,olives, dressings, curry pastes, minced things, interesting relishes and chutneys, antipasto's, sauces , jars of artichokes, pestos, etc etc etc. Many are unopened. I tend to find something "interesting", buy it, and stick in the fridge or pantry....just in case....which does work, when i need it !! I can hardly see into my pantry. I have a double door spice/seasoning blends/rubs etc cupboard that is blocked with those as well as soy sauces, oils etc.... Varying specialty sea salts, veggie rubs, peppers etc...line the top of my stove.

I do however, use these all. And i'll mention that i live in an area where many of these things are not easily found.

Most of my space seems to be taken up with stuff that is not actual food !! I just need someone to show up with some pasta or something, lol.

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  1. Hmmmm...
    I used to have the same problem. I tended to buy the "value sized "jar/box/bag, and I never used the whole thing. I recently changed my shopping habits (Not easily done)
    I now buy the smaller or individually packaged size. It has turned out to be a much better and more ecnomically intelligent way to go and I always have good stuff to eat!I've also noticed that if I "magic marker" the expiration date on multiple use refrigerated items, like condiments,I tend to actually use them. When it comes to leftovers, unless it's from the night before, on Trash Day, I also will now throw out pretty much everything that's still hanging out. If you stock your freezer with individual use microwavable items, I promise you'll always have something good to eat. :-}
    PS" Toss those 2 yr old bay leaves... You're never going to use them!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Tay

      sadly....with the exception of the olive oil, or when i can get them, the artichokes....none of the above are usually "value sized" anything....just a very wide variety!

      some go very quickly....like my red and green curry pastes....my garlic and ginger etc etc..........some tend to hang around a bit longer...unopened of course.....and as for leftovers...i freeze stuff...but i'm a veggie, so day old, would never be thrown out in my world.

      again, thing is with me, i can't change my shopping practices to have these things on hand only when i need them. Alot of stuff is about two hours away from me.

      1. re: im_nomad

        Hmmm... I see
        You have all sorts of interesting things in terms of spice/condiments. Maybe you just need to find stuff that you can have on hand in the freezer for those, "There's nothing in here to eat!" moments. EG: Pictsweet brand has Deluxe Steamers: Many varieties of veggie combinations that you just toss in the micro.in the self venting bag. In 6 minutes, you have a very satisfying portion of tasty steamed veggies. Poured over mac 'n cheese, rice or over any sauced pasta... Delish!

    2. I have the same problem with an added mental block about canned beans. I seem to buy canned beans of all types all the time. I get to the store and think I need [insert type of canned beans here] which is kind of random anyway since I have an actual store list but then I come home with 2 more cans of beans to add to the 26 that's already on my pantry shelves. So, all that to say, at least I have beans to go with all of my hoarded spices/ingredients/condiments.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Boudleaux

        Open a can of beans, dump them in a strainer and rinse them, dump them in the food processor (or in a bowl) add whatever seasonings--salt, hot sauce, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, whatever--pulse/mash, scoop out and presto! you have a dip or spread, you can even eat it for breakfast.

      2. I have the same problem! Every now and then I'll go to a recipe search engine and choose a few ingredients I have that peak my interest..then I'll make a point to try something new!

        1. oh man the same is happening to me right now . all you need is some rice/pasta/couscous and just mix it all together and eventually something amazing will happen

          1. Hello Kindred Spirit!

            I almost posted something just like this, I was going to title it "Do I need two refrigerators or more self control?".

            I counted how many condiments, pickles, olives (3 different jars!), jams and jellies, and other interesting goodies were in the fridge - there are 47, every one is open. The pantry is in the same condition, I have to be careful when searching or I'll knock over another jar of olives, an interesting vinegar or the truffle oils.

            Apparently, I'm prepared for any eventuality - bring it on! :-)

            7 Replies
            1. re: Cookiefiend

              a common thought when visiting various cities , markets and such "ooooh,...i've never seen THAT before...must buy !" And then sometimes i'm afraid to use it, because then i won't have any more until i visit said city or market again, haha. I have similar issues with candles, lol.

              haha, reading this post i went out to the fridge, had a quick poke, and found several items that factor under the "oooh i forgot i had that!!" category. I am now wondering how to use the horseradish jelly i just found out there.

              1. re: im_nomad

                When we travel, business-wise, while Mr CF is in meetings I am driving around checking out grocery stores, farmers markets, wine stores and book stores.

                Last year in Minneapolis, at their FABULOUS farmers market downtown, I nearly cried because there was a man selling amazing cantaloupes. They smelled so goood!! But I knew I couldn't get it on the plane... damn, damn, damn!

                hummmm horseradish jelly.... I'm thinking appetizers...
                I should eat lunch - maybe I'll have a few olives...

                1. re: Cookiefiend

                  Why couldn't you get it on the plane? You mean it wouldn't fit in your bag? Because there's no reason not to carry on fruit, and I've often done so. Last time I flew home from the East Coast it was October and I bought about five pounds of Macoun apples at the farmers market on the way to the airport -- they were a pain to carry, but no problem otherwise.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I didn't think airport security would let me carry it on... since I can't even take a bottle of water though security - I figured a large, ripe cantaloupe wasn't going to make it either.

                    I would have loved to have taken it home! Maybe next time we get to Minneapolis that guy will be there!

                    1. re: Cookiefiend

                      The rule is no liquids. Water is a liquid, cantaloupe is not. Although the rules are stupid (IMHO), they aren't a mystery.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Ahhh, but the rules are subject to interpretation of the individual TSA agents at the different airports. What is acceptable at one airport is not at the next. And, I've found that when unsure of the rules, the TSA agents will err on the side of caution and can become belligerent if questioned. (cause you know, there is some liquid in that cantaloupe and you'd never see that needle mark from where you injected that explosive gel)

                          sign me "followed the rules but got screwed anyway by TSA"

              2. Count me in. I am in the same situation. I don't buy "value" sized things, but lots of condiments and things I think I should buy because I might want some some day. I can usually put together a meal but sometimes it takes real creativity.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Candy

                  I've been experimenting with not buying anything beyond my every other week Boston Organics vegetable & fruit delivery, and I have actually started getting good at cooking from the pantry. I'm amazed. And more importantly, I am slowly opening up surface area on my pantry shelves and in the freezer.

                2. This thread really stikes a chord with me. I am definitely a "hoarder" of great magnitude. As someone has already mentioned one of my greatest pitfalls is canned beans. I have every kind of canned bean on hand that is available where I live, and several of the same kinds of some beans. And, as another poster mentioned I do use these often for dips or spreads(very healthy and versatile). I am as bad if not worse when it comes to canned tomatoes......whole, diced, crushed.....plain, with cilantro, with basil and garlic, with chilies, etc., etc., etc.,......and God forbid I should find them in a "discount" bin!!!!! LOL!!! Other things on my "hoarder" list are pastas....of every size, shape, flavor, available. Then, there are the numerous flavored cooking oils. Then, because, I stay on a very high protein diet, I have so many cans of tuna and salmon it sometimes blows my mind when I come home with more because it's "on sale"! I do "rotate" things as newer items are added to the pantry, but dang I LIVE ALONE! I'm sure I could eat very healthy for at least 3-4 months without ever setting foot in a grocery store. I LOVE to grocery shop though. So, that just adds to the problem! I eat lots of fresh veggies, meats, and fish, but it seems I'm way over attracted to things with a long shelf life.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Deepster

                    do you belong to a gourmet cooking club? good way to use it up.

                    1. re: Deepster

                      well, where I live having lots of canned beans (which I do) is considered being prepared. 'Earthquake supplies'. And, when the earthquake does come, canned beans will be more useful than the dried ones hubby hoards (that is his version of the disease) because they don't need additional water to be edible (or even cooking for that matter: just a can opener and a splash of one of the many :-) hot sauces I have in my pantry...

                      And you even have canned protein.

                      Reasonably tasty, nutritious. Hey: no reason to consider it a problem; move to San Francisco and you can consider it a virtue! :-)

                    2. I can travel around the world........just by looking in my refridgerator! hehe. It's all good.

                      1. Geez I was thinking I had an illness... I do buy pastas, any shape and size, I got it. Every condiment. I am always worried that I won't have everything that I need should I decide to make a recipe I stumble on. I really use my things though, I look at my pantry almost daily, and I rotate items using the oldest first and I make a list of what I've used and when I'm down to 1, I buy another.

                        I have tons of dried beans, legumes for that matter. I love anything Asian, so I have tons of noodles, made of egg, rice, bean thread, & wrappers. I like to be able to whip up a meal on a whim, from any cuisine. Yes, my pantry is a point of discussion... often. My neighbors call it the "store" because I always have whatever they run out of or that odd thing they need to complete what their cooking.

                        I don't think that I'm wasteful. I don't shop Costco, buying the large packs of stuff. Well except chicken, I use a lot of chicken breasts.
                        I have a ton of jams even though I make my own. I love the pretty jars! But I use them!
                        Oh well I guess things certainly could be worse, I have no vices, so I consider myself lucky!

                        1. Don't know what to tell you about the refrigerator. For years I've wished someone would manufacture a multi-shelf glass door one-jar-deep refrigerator to mount on a wall that would let you see all of the mustard, pickles, and exotics you have to dig through every time you open the refrigerator to look for FOOD! Maybe some day.

                          I licked the spice problem years ago by building myself a 5' tall by 28" wide spice rack with 8 shelves in it. The top 7 are full of spices and dried herbs, the bottom shelf is for vinegars. But now I'm going to build a new one that will be much wider and have room for all of the oils I use and a salt section. It really takes a huge burden off the cupboard space, and while I like the look of those special drawers with the little tilted racks for spice bottles, who can afford to give up a drawer to spices? Not to mention being limited on container shape.

                          The new spice rack will be a "built in" on a blank side wall adjacent to the island with smaller corbels that match the larger ones on the island. That's where the old "take it with you when you move" rack hangs now. Both the old and new racks are only 3 3/4 inches deep (built from what the lumber industry calls "1 X 4s"), so they don't stick out very far, but they sure do hold a lot of stuff that otherwise would be cluttering up my cupboards! And every one who comes into my kitchen loves browsing through my spices. One friend who doesn't do a whole lot of cooking says it's like going to the library. It gives her ideas, whether or not she follows through.

                          Now if someone would just build that condiment refrigerator for me, I might be able to find something to eat!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Caroline1

                            makes me wish I had some wall space. my kitchen has literally none. Just a bunch of inefficient cabinets.

                            1. re: toodie jane

                              Same here. No wall space, very little counter space. I do have a small pantry, but it makes looking for things very difficult! I'm constantly having to shove the front row of things aside to see what's behind.

                              My house was originally our "weekend & vacation house" so I didn't place a lot of importance on the kitchen. Sigh. I also did a lot less cooking in those days. Oh well, when I win the Lotto I'll build a bigger kitchen. Heck, I'll build a bigger *house*!

                              1. re: Catskillgirl

                                My 8 shelf/five feet tall spice rack (that I'm about to replace) has been with me for decades, and that includes some nightmarishly small kitchens! Even big houses can have tiny kitchens. Sometimes it's more of a challenge to the imagination to find a solution than it is to have actual wall space.

                                In one house I mounted the spice rack on the inside of the door to the garage. Made finding the door to the garage a challenge for friends, but it worked! I've hung it on a louvered heater closet door. I've hung it on a laundry room door, and on a passageway wall near the kitchen. It does a lot more than free up cupboard space: It makes cooking a lot easier when it comes to finding spices and seasonings.

                                Another thing I did in every house I've lived in for the last forty years that I cannot do here but sorely miss was to make a pot rack that was hung from the kitchen ceiling. I can't do it here because I have one of those big ceiling-mount hoods over the island with the cooktop, and there just isn't another appropriate place. But oh my god, getting the pots and pans out of the cupboards really expands your cupboard space!

                                In one house, my dad made me a custom cast iron pan rack that was 8 feet long and four feet wide and had room for every pot and pan I could ever want! It went with the house when we sold it. In the next house I went to the lumber yard and bought some redwood 2" X 4"s and some lag bolts and bolted the wood into a long frame with cross bars, then used huge nails hammered into the vertical sides of the wood to hang pots and pans from. And chains to hold it to the ceiling that were screwed into ceiling joists. In the last house before I moved here, I bought some cheap metal wire shelves designed for hanging from a garage ceiling, wired two of them together to make the system long enough, then bought "S" hooks to hang things from it.

                                Every system worked great, and every system gave me more cupboard space in small kitchens than I have in my large present kitchen that has thirty (30!) double door full sized kitchen cabinets that I have to store pots and pans in.

                                Kitchen space is very often a matter of using your imagination to build space where none currently exists. Good luck!

                          2. I laughed when I saw this post! I live alone, and you should see the looks on guests' faces when they come over; most of them open the fridge and see a quart of milk, maybe a container of leftovers, some ice cream in the freezer, cereal and bread on the counter. Total overload. The problem isn't so much the condiments for me, it's the variety of cuisine and cooking experiments. But I like the accessibility (like having a pool around, just in case).

                            I cut myself off recently when I restacked everything in the fridge... horizontally. And seriously questioned whether or not soy milk *really* had to be refrigerated. It's like trying to pick a favorite sibling. I recently got on a baking kick and then had to get the measuring spoons, baking sheets, all the spices, extracts, flours, butter, etc. There are a couple of pans hanging in the coat closet to make room for all the dried mushrooms, furikake, oils, spices, nuts, seeds, flours, beans, salts... canned tomatoes... pasta and noodles... and I still find some excuse to go to the store or the farmer's markets.

                            And still, we just end up opening a can of tuna sometimes, don't we?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: link_930

                              Oh, im nomad, you are so not alone. I also have the habit of picking up any condiment/pickle/olive that catches my fancy at the moment. One trick I have is to pick one that I have and google recipes for it (or epicurious.com recipes for it) and build a meal to use it up. Can't let anything go to waste (although I am known for throwing out entire dishes if they come out badly), so I will usually start with whatever has been in there the longest. If it comes out yucky, well, at least I tried.....

                              1. re: diablo

                                lol...I have to laugh: I just moved into a house that has a HUGE pantry. The last time I lived in a house with a pantry anywhere near that big (actually, ours is bigger) I was a teenager with multiple siblings. It is just the two of us in this house, but somehow I feel obligated to fill that pantry. The shelves just look so bare, you know??? So I am buying stuff I don't really need to fill it up........

                                I'll use Susan's earthquake excuse. After all, earthquakes have been known to happen here....

                                1. re: janetofreno

                                  Nope. It's all because of Homeland Seciroty! Reading your post I just remembered I have a BIG box of food, water, and emergency supplies at the back of my entry hall closet. Well, Homeland Security *and* tornado warnings. <sigh>

                            2. Just curious. Do you use your condiment, spices, sauces, etc., for cooking or for jazzing up takeout? If you do cook, then why not throw in the freezer some sort of meat, or in the pantry some pasta or couscous? That way you will always be able to make a meal.

                              1. tonight i made mushroom and walnut risotto, and remembered that i had a fantastic mushroom olive oil in the fridge (Torre Real Al Boletus)...that i had purchased at the Jean Talon market in Montreal ...i had almost forgotten about it ....I drizzled some over the final product.....and using it, brought me right back to that trip.....
                                ...I love the treasures in my kitchen!!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: im_nomad

                                  Put me in the hoarding camp! My husband is the opposite of me so he keeps me in line. He calls me the condiment queen. I just cleaned out the condiment fridge last month. I threw out a huge hefty bad full of expired foodstuffs! What a waste. So my new years resolution is to keep the fridge clean and have some space for fresh things. How nice it was just to open up the fridge and be able to put something in it without rearranging and shoving it in. My pantry is the same. I have a fetish with different types of canned tomatoes and the like. Pasta, rice, beans (I don't even like beans that much) of all types are there just in case. And I love to grocery shop too! So I am very glad there are others out there like me. But I am trying to stick to my resolution and buy only what I really need for the next few dinners.....it is very hard. Don't even get me started on the baking necessities I have for "just in case"-they get their own special cupboard. But I have to say, I do keep the supplies fresh. I just went through the spice rack last month and alphabetized them in my lazy susan cupboard. :)