Not Your Mother’s Goulash- Managing Your Pantry

Managing your pantry, fridge/freezer and liquor cabinet is one part of planning and executing on your move. I managed mine in a few steps.

Step One: Determine how much time you have to before your move. Can you consume all of the items during that timeline? Is the timeline very quick? Are you moving locally and will have the same type of space for food storage in your new home? This step is critical, because it will help guide you through the following steps.

Step Two: Go through all pantries, refrigerator and freezers and dispose of all items that are beyond their recommended use by date or that you haven’t used in the last six months to year. The freezer can be a bit tricky so use your judgment and if you see freezer burn or haven’t used a vacuum sealer, you may want to dispose. I also found a lot of condiments that were still usable, but I had bought them for a recipe I made once and never would recreate. I also threw those items away.

Step Three: Start planning your menus around the use of the food already in your possession. Meal time got very creative and I found myself on a mission to only purchase fresh food and dairy items when at the grocery store. Like most people I know, we had a lot of unused canned, frozen and boxed foods in our pantry and freezer. Be realistic about how much you can actually consume before the move. As packing begins and you are busy with this process, you may not want to be cooking. My husband and I have a joke right now that “we will never eat pizza again”. We ended up ordering in a number of times and pizza was the easiest choice–maybe not the best choice, as we are both a bit burned out on pizza now. One thing that I did was keep my crockpot handy and not packed so I could make some home cooked meals in the midst of the chaos of moving.

Step Four: Determine what you will do with the excess food, etc. After a bit of research I found that there are a number of charities out there that will not only accept the traditional canned and boxed goods for donation, they will also accept frozen items. This type of donation requires you to set up a time for delivery, versus just showing up. One example of this is, Second Harvest Heartland who have locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Another option for dealing with excess food is to share with family members or friends. This might be as simple as giving the food away, or if you have enough time, you may choose to have parties with friends/family to have help using your food and liquor.

Finally, you may want to physically move some of your food etc. with you to your new location.

I did all of the things listed above to varying degrees. We only had about thirty days before our move, so not a lot of time to use the massive amount of food we had accumulated with our Costco membership. In the end, I did move some canned goods, frozen food and dried pastas with us to the duplex. Additionally, because my husband writes a cocktail blog (Summit Sips), we have an extraordinary amount of alcohol products in our possession and that collection was also moved to the duplex.

Now we are living in a much smaller space, with a less workable kitchen and fewer kitchen tools. I have decided to continue my quest to use all of the food and alcohol items that we moved to the duplex before our bigger move to Portland, OR. Last week I created a goulash using only items that had been moved–my husband and I agree it was a success. Here is that recipe.

Not Your Mother’s Goulash (Makes 6-8 servings)

1 lb. of ground beef
½ of an onion chopped
1 large garlic clove chopped or through a garlic press
2 -14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1-2 beef bouillon cubes
1 can of Guinness Beer
3 stalks of celery
7 oz of macaroni
2 tsp. ground pepper
½ tsp of cayenne
Salt to taste

  1. Fry the ground beef in a cast iron pot or large skillet on medium high heat and season with salt and pepper
  2. When ground beef is cooked, push to side and add your onions and celery
  3. When your onions become translucent, turn your heat down to medium and add your garlic and cook for about 2 minutes more
  4. Next, add your 2 cans of diced tomatoes and make sure to scrap up all of the browned bits from the bottom of your pan
  5. Then add the can of beer, beef bouillon cubes and cayanne
  6. Now add your macaroni and bring to a boil and then turn down and let simmer
  7. Let simmer for about 20 minutes

After 20 minutes check to see if your pasta is cooked. Add additional pepper, salt or cayenne to taste and serve!

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