I am not a great maker of new years resolutions. Not because I easily give up on them. I simply believe that you can create a new habit anytime throughout the year and consider myself relatively immune to peer pressure. However I mostly start the new year with some kind of ritual: making an inventory of my larder and deciding to use it all up in the first few months of a new year.
It’s something that started out of sheer necessity: many years ago I was working freelance. The job situation for the coming months looked bleak, I had to pay off a loan and still wanted to go on holiday that summer. I took a deep breath and focused on ways how to save money. I realised how much food I had in my larder and was relieved to be able to save quite a bit of money that way. January is the now the month where I go through my cupboards and clear them out. After the gluttony of the holiday season it’s a great opportunity to step back and shift gears.
It works well for me, because I love the power of decluttering, creating space and becoming aware of the abundance in my life. I clear the cupboards, look if there is anything that has really gone off, get excited about forgotten delicacies (often shoved to the back of my larder), start planning meals and simply enjoy…the focus! Like all kinds of clutter, a disorganised larder can take up a lot of energy. I occasionally end up buying some ingredient I believe I don’t have, only to realise later that I have plenty of it left.
And I tend to buy delicacies which I want to save for that special occasion…only to find them years later and kicking myself for not having used them for some of those „special occasions“ that have passed. There is that packet of celery seed and chestnut biscuits that I bought to recreate the recipe, but never gotten around to make. The sun-dried cherry tomatoes I brought home from Sicily, that were intended for that gorgeous summer evening on the rooftop…however now they don’t look so appealing anymore once they have spent three years in the back of my cupboard. Oh, I could go on!
You hear a lot about food waste these days and I love that people are becoming more aware of ways how to avoid throwing away so much food that is still good enough to eat or could have been saved had it been used in time. But it’s often about produce, dairy and meat. You hear less concern about less perishable foodstuff such as preserves, flour, legumes, nuts…things that have a longer shelf life, but can also taste off or rancid. Why not make the most of it, while it is at it’s best?
So I open all the cupboards, pen and several sheets of paper ready, take every item out, one by one, and start creating a list. I roughly note the quantities and sometimes make notes of things that should be used fairly soon.
I have to say it produces a little bit of anxiety, because it is a commitment. It’s not the inventory process that creates anxiety, but making the decision to cook primarily out of my larder for a while. I am so easily inspired by what’s in shops that I forget what I have at home. And let’s face it: an opened packet of even the most exquisite pasta in an unsual shape isn’t that appealing anymore once the package looks dishevelled and there is only about 100 grams left.
Even though I am a fan of Marie Kondo and have had great success with her method (albeit, I think I only put half of it in practice), I would never hold up that leftover pasta and ask myself: "does this spark joy?“ and then throw it. Speaking to your foodstuffs might actually not be such a bad idea…Instead of saying goodbye and “thank you” to that package of leftover pasta (which Marie Kondo might encourage you to do), I thought to literally ask the 100 grams of pasta what it would like to have done with it…or to it? Whatever! I think I should start speaking to the leftovers in my pantry. So now I have created that list some things have already spoken clearly to me, while others I need to listen to more intently. I AM EXCITED! Do you want to join me on that journey and hear some of the stories my leftovers have to tell?