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A New Twist on Home Shopping…


We had a new set of roommates (my brother and his wife) move in and they requested space in half the freezer and half the pantry.

Let me make something clear, I am a very tidy person. Bleach and Windex are more pleasing to my nose than fine perfume. I actually get physically uncomfortable in disorderly places but…

The back of my pantry hasn’t seen the light of day since about 2007.

I figured I’d throw it all away… until I discovered loads of canned goods and boxed foods that weren’t set to expire for a few more years. In my bottom of my box freezer, I discovered frozen chicken and ground beef only a few months old.

I created a spreadsheet of foods and categorized them by meal type and location. Want to know how many meals we have stashed in the backs of cabinets and the bottom of the freezer?


Yes, some of them are a stretch to be called a meal (example: the combination of boxed noodles and canned black beans I pretend to be soup or the egg flower soup with no eggs – which I guess is just technically broth) but we can survive the next 37 meals for free.

I know what you’re thinking – ‘I can’t possibly have 37 meals stashed around my house’. Clean out that pantry and freezer before you laugh at me. See if you can beat our 37 meal score. You’ll save some money this season by shopping in your pantry.


  • Reply brooklynchick |

    That is awesome! I bet my number is close to that, if I’m honest. Its more the creativity – what to do with all the beans and canned pumpkin………

  • Reply Caitlin |

    I’m more curious to hear the “why” story behind the roommates!

    I only wish I had such a thing as a pantry, let alone one big enough to forget stuff in. My kitchen was totally not built for food storage. 😛

  • Reply mv |

    Consume the 37 meals before they expire, but don’t forget to replenish. It’s a must to have backup supplies, in cases of natural (or not-so-natural) emergencies.

    A better term for these ‘roommates’ would be housemates…that is, after all, what they are.

  • Reply Cynthia |

    I probably have mid teens in our house. We actually keep our cupboards pretty bare and don’t have a standalone freezer. When it’s time to go to the grocery store in our house, it’s really time!

  • Reply Deby |

    Amateur 😉
    I have at least 100 meals for 4 people each in my freezer alone, not counting any leftovers (and that includes 2 full turkeys). My pantry has easily another 100. Other than milk, produce and other perishables, I don’t need to buy another food item for most next year. Not that I won’t, I think I may have some sort of hoarding issue when it comes to food. But if the worst happens we won’t starve.

    And I believe keeping a spreadsheet is vital to keeping track of food supplies, especially when you have as many supplies as I do. I keep mine on my PDA, so I can check it at the grocery store to tell myself no, we really DON’T need another chuck roast, no matter how good the sale 🙂


  • Reply Money Beagle |

    With our pantry and freezer, I generally try to place the newer items in the back so that we’re in a ‘first in, first out’ system. It doesn’t always work as we’ll still find stuff buried, but it has definitely helped avoid forgetting all about stuff and having to deal with the decision on whether to use something past its expiration date or throw it away and feel wasteful.

  • Reply Georgie |

    We live in an apartment, so we don’t have a standalone freezer or a pantry. I am sure we could squeak out some meals out of our 2 cupboards and the freezer compartment of our fridge, but there’s really not a lot. We have to be careful when we go to the store because we’ve bought too much before and had to squeeze things in rather precariously 🙂

  • Reply Tara |

    I thoroughly enjoy both Beks posts and the inventive comments of all these readers! So I’ll add my own… I love meatballs and I’ve started making batches just to freeze… you can thaw them out for meatball sandwiches ($2 loaf of french bread, tomato sauce and a pinch of cheese), Spaghetti (add pasta you’ve probably got lying around and tomato sauce) and Swedish meatballs with boiled potatoes (I add a little red onion, vinegar, dill and olive oil to the potatoes). A $4 pound of ground pork stretches to at least 6 meals!

  • Reply emmi |

    I fear with the age of our fridge that we may lose a whole load, so we’ve been creatively plowing through some very mysterious old things from in there. Feels good to have a month of “eat it or compost it” to clear things out. Kicked us out of recipe boredom too.

    I’m aiming to empty the freezer completely (well, except maybe for the egg roll wrappers) before we drive to visit family at christmas.

    We do have a lot of beans, canned and dried. We could live on those for weeks if necessary.

  • Reply Mona |

    Make a dinner plan. If you take 3 of each weeks dinners from the fridge or pantry, your extra meals will last for 10 weeks. This will keep your food budget low in January and February.

  • Reply mary kate |

    love this post! – you inspired me to do a freezer inventory. we have a chest freezer in our garage filled with lots of things (mostly ice cream and veggies!). I bet we could go 3 weeks on food in this house, though i would be very crabby from cooking for 3 weeks straight! 2 adults, 3 kids – goal $300 month grocery budget

  • Reply kate |

    That is fantastic that you are so organized. I WISH I could be so organized that I could put the cupboard and fridge contents on a spreadsheet! Good for you!

    I know the feeling having nothing extra as well. I look around at other people at the grocery store throwing stuff in their carts with not a care in the world. I need to pre-plan my trips, and count the running tally in my head as I go. Cash only for me at stores.

  • Reply ellen |

    For possible meals I would say no more than four however creative I get, but I can always bake up a storm with whatever is in the cupboards. If you get down to the scrambled egg meal there is no suffering as long as there are biscuits!

  • Reply Mrs. Accountability |

    I’m sure we have at least 60 meals, but I’m not organized enough to tell you exactly what those meals would be. My husband does the shopping and he can’t pass up good sales and loves to stock up – just in case.

  • Reply Nicole |

    Nice job! Oh, I know I could find about 3 months of meals in my freezer and pantry! My mom taught me well to keep long shelf life foods in stock at all times : )

  • Reply Michelle H. |

    It’s just my husband and I now – kids are grown and married. I could probably get at least 10 out of my freezer/pantry. More if meatless.
    Merry Christmas all!

  • Reply Jenn |

    We could skip buying meat and most pantry goods for probably 2 months. We’d only need to pick up milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt each week. The canned & frozen fruit and veggies would run out after 2 weeks. Starting after New Years we’re planning to follow this plan as much as we can. We have 3 BDs in January, but other than those special meals we’ll be buying fresh only to suppliment what’s already on hand. We’re long overdue for a good pantry and freezer clean out. Every winter we eat our way through the accumulation in the freezer and then set the last few things outside and completely defrost and clean out the freezer. It’s a job best done when we have a natural freezer outside.

So, what do you think ?