How do I love thee? The bare pantry.


It all started when we were still in our early 20s. We knew we planned on having kiddos, but we weren’t expecting any just yet. Ceaseless planners that we are and always have been, we made the decision to live on only his income, even though we were both employed.


Honestly, this was a big adjustment because it pretty much cut our allotted funds in half. My income wasn’t just a “drop in the bucket” like it is now. Still, we hoped that I’d be able to stay home with our babies one day and, if that was ever going to be reality, we needed to test out this new (significantly smaller) income.


Part of this process was, of course, tightening the purse strings and establishing strict budgets. We had a very specific amount set aside for our groceries and we were determined to stick with it. (I kept a 12-column leger. I’m not kidding.) That worked pretty well until, inevitably, that one month arrived when, whether due to poor planning or unforeseen circumstances, the pantry grew close to bare before month’s end.


He pointed out that we certainly had the funds if we needed to buy more food. Truly, we grew a rather nice little nest egg over that time by just banking my salary.


But, oh, I am stubborn. And determined. I stuck my obstinate chin in the air and declared that I would figure it out.


I stared at 2 eggs, some milk dregs, half a leftover chicken cutlet, some sad broccoli stems, a sprouting onion, and some stale bread. I was young. And, honestly, I wasn’t too used to having to concoct things on my own. This was also back before the days of handy-dandy recipe sites that allow you to search by ingredient.


No matter. I danced around the kitchen and sang as I chopped, blanched, mixed, and preheated. I served a chicken and broccoli crustless quiche for dinner that night. It wasn’t anything special. I wouldn’t add it to my recipe repertoire, certainly. But it filled our bellies.


And my husband raved.


He told me, again and again, how good it was. He bragged about my ability to make something out of nothing to friends and co-workers. He openly displayed admiration for my determination to “make it work” even when it seemed we had nothing.


Over the years, the pantry has run pretty bare from time-to-time. We’ve been without meat, milk, eggs, flour, etc. before. And, always, I throw open doors and try to stare at it with new eyes. We always manage to eat.


Those meals are not my greatest. They are not ones I would desire to live on day-in and day-out and we know we are very blessed to always know that grocery replenishment is just around the corner.


But my husband? He loves it when that happens. He always says that some of his favorite meals are the ones I create out of “nothing.” He never complains about the odd combinations or lack of preferred protein. He eats, and eats heartily, and then heaps on the praise.


I do NOT waste food. When I see those statistics about how much food Americans waste, on average? I shudder. But I also take comfort in knowing that my numbers would come in much, much lower. A big part of why that’s possible?


I have the best cheerleader you can imagine in my corner when it comes to using up food.


Hmm… wonder what I can make with this 1/4 cup of rice… :)

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