The Lean Larder Challenge. What is it?
The MamaBake Lean Larder challenge is all about taking back control of your food stores, your budget and your family meals. Our larders become crowded. We forget what we have in there, often because we can’t see it, so we buy more. The Challenge encourages us to take stock (literally) of what we have and break the cycle of food shopping out of habit (the weekly shop), when you may not actually need anything (other than fresh foods) that week. By investing some time and effort looking at our food stores with honest eyes, recording what we have, storing it correctly and disposing of anything no longer useable, we are reducing our over consumption, not only of food but of packaging also, and therefore reducing our food waste and saving money.
The Challenge is not about using everything up and emptying your food stores, that would be a false economy as you have to then spend a fortune re-stocking! For one month, it’s an exercise in being frugal; in creating nourishing family meals with what you already have. It provides an opportunity to get creative in meal planning as you are forced to invent or look for meals that use what you have on hand. It’s a chance to learn about different ways to use unusual ingredients, that may have otherwise sat in the cupboard, forgotten, only to be discovered 10 years later when you move house! (so far, juniper berries have proved a popular one off purchase for an exotic meal that never happened, and now sit, unused in larders everywhere!)
The Challenge will also ensure that the foods you do keep in your pantry are stored appropriately to ensure their longevity. No open bags of rice, or paper flour bags barely folded over shut to encourage weevils and other pantry pests. Along the way, we’ll share tips on how to best store your dry goods for ease of use and longevity.
The Challenge takes the ‘Visual Noise’ from your larder (isn’t that a great term for clutter? A very tanned and snazzy therapist on a British hoarding show coined the phrase!) as you organise and tidy a space that is so often piled with goods because, let’s face it, getting home from the supermarket and neatly placing everything in exactly the right spot is not something easily done! What it does though, is provide a clean slate; ordered shelves which are then easier to maintain (even if they eventually become piles again, the original template is there and it’s generally a quicker once over to tidy it up!)
The Challenge is not a form of judgement. It is not a ‘who has the messiest pantry?’ competition. It is not an excuse for finger pointing and snide, “Can you believe how much she has in there?” comments. It is not a grand statement saying the we must all live organised and efficient lives and resemble unobtainable expectations of Motherhood, domesticity and relationships.
What we hope to achieve is a sense of sufficiency, that we are capable of feeding our family healthy, creative meals with what we already have. In true MamaBake style, it’s about time liberation. Instead of staring blankly into your pantry at 4:30pm every afternoon wondering what the hell to cook, you’ll have a plan and, more than likely, a meal already prepared (the slow cooker is the Lean Larder challenge’s best friend) and in the freezer, ready to pull out when needed.
Michelle and I are both undertaking the challenge, in fact, all the recipes I’ve posted in the last two weeks have been made with items from my stocktake. I’ve extended/adapted the challenge to my freezer and fridge too; using up the odds and ends in the vegetable crisper drawers that I would probably have otherwise chucked, and turning them into a delicious meal. Other than milk and bread, I haven’t spent a cent on food for two weeks!
All meals and snacks are to be based on food you already have in your pantry. If you are missing an ingredient, it’s time to get creative with substitutes or make something else! The only money you’ll spend will be on perishables like fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, eggs, bread (unless you’re making your own from your larder list!). No-one’s going to disqualify you if you shop to refill your child’s favourite pre-packaged snacks or dried fruit, but we will encourage you to create lunch box meals and snacks from your pantry (there will be recipes!) to help with the money saving. You can, actually you’re encouraged, to get together with your MamaSisters and join forces. Share or swap what you’ve got in your pantries.
We’re not big on “RULES” here at MamaBake; so that’s it! Use only what you’ve got in your pantry for the duration of the challenge. Easy right?
Are you ready to join us?
You’ll find all you need to know to kick off, here.