Taking stock

The great thing about returning from holiday with no food in the house is that it’s really easy to do a stock take.

The day after getting back from Dorset I zipped around with a pen and paper, checking the contents of my kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer.

The list was distinctly shorter than at the end of May, when I started a month’s store cupboard challenge, determined to eat as much as possible of the abandoned, forgotten and uninspiring food stashed away in my kitchen. (See here if you’d like to find out how I got on).


…just wait until you see the excel version…
OCD? OTT? Maybe…

The great advantage of doing a stock take is that it reminds me what we already have, so I can use up food that might otherwise go off, or has lingered too long. I can then focus food shopping on the stuff we actually need, avoid buying duplicates and cut food waste. That’s the theory, anyway!

Despite my best efforts during July, there are still some items I’m keen to use up.

These are the top 10 candidates for consumption during September:

1. Assorted bread flour. Various part-used bags remain pushed to the back of the cupboard, from strong white bread flour, to the freshly ground flour we bought when visiting a working windmill (cough) two summers ago, to the buckwheat flour purchased for a long forgotten recipe. I need to clench my teeth and either get baking or consign it to the bin once and for all.

2. Remains of the Quorn mountain. The PRs at Quorn were kind enough to send me enormous quantities of Quorn products (blog post here). We’ve tried an assortment in different recipes, from the mince in chilli (fine, almost indistinguishable from beef), burgers (OK), chicken pieces (slightly odd texture in a give-it-a-whirl coconut noodle laksa soup) and the sausages (unfortunately not a family favourite). However, I still have many fine packets remaining, ready to be curried, fajita-ed, chillied, grilled or whatever else.

3. Fennel. I bought a couple of bulbs from the reduced section in the Co-op, ignored them for a while, then bunged them in the freezer before disappearing off to Dorset. Hopefully they can be resurrected and consumed. Suggestions welcome!

4. Curry pastes. I need to tackle the huddle of jars in the fridge door, from green thai curry paste to tahini, rogan josh paste to harissa.

5. Dried borlotti beans. I reckon dried pulses are a faff, due to the soaking, and they certainly don’t look very inspiring. Maybe it’s soup time.

6. Lasagne sheets. Again, lasagne always seems like a lot of faff, with all the different components that could so easily make other meals. Despite my husband’s enthusiasm for lasagne I only seem to get round to making it once a year, for his birthday. Maybe veggie lasagne is the way to go?

7. Chickpeas. I bought four cans on offer in a fit of economy and enthusiasm, and now I feel guilty about not using any of them. The four pack of baked beans, which involve minimal effort and cooking, have long since disappeared…

8. Condensed milk. A calorie fest in a tin. Think it was originally bought either to make millionaire’s shortbread, or an attempt at home made ice cream, neither of which I’ve managed since. I don’t tend to cook many puddings, which is probably why the custard powder, black treacle and tin of rice pudding are still hanging around too.

9. Burgers. Currently we have several left over burgers in the freezer, from a couple of quite hideous Findus versions, to a fancy pork and apple burger and more Quorn ones. One meal with many burgers is on the cards.

10. Jam sugar. I was seduced by Aldi Specialbuys one week into buying not only a couple of kilos of jam sugar, but even a Maslin pan and a jam thermometer, with the dream of making my own jam. I still have great intentions, despite the best efforts of the birds and gravity at decimating our plums while we were away.

Any weird and wonderful ingredients you need to tackle, but never quite get round to it?


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  1. 10th September 2015 / 5:13 am

    I'm in the middle of working through my cupboards and freezer at the moment, so I'm down to the random odds and ends in the freezer, some brown rice (I never seem to think about it in time to cook it) and half a pack of quinoa that the family weren't at all keen on. I'm thinking of hiding it in a sausagemeat stuffing for one of the many free marrows that are on front door steps at the moment.

    You didn't ask for suggestions, but for what it's worth:

    Your burgers I think I'd make into a burger casserole- just brown and chop (or vice versa) and then use as pieces of meat. Should disguise any that you don't want to eat straight.
    Chickpeas- definitely hummus (peanut butter is cheaper than tahini), easy with a stick blender (or processor) or add to leek and potato soup instead of half the potato. Puree or not, according to taste. Add parmesan-style cheese and olive oil for best results.
    Or put in curry.
    Borlotti beans- cook all of them (use Tamar Adler's advice and don't swamp with water when cooking, add some olive oil and salt and they will taste a hundred times better) and then freeze them in portions. Less faff than having to soak and cook them again next time.
    Condensed milk- I'd make this HFW dessert http://theediblecraft.com/2013/05/13/when-life-gives-you-lemons-its-time-for-dessert/ which just adds cream, lemon juice and ginger biscuits (it's delicious!) or make fudge for Christmas presents 🙂
    And you could make chutney in your jam pan! No trying to find the setting point, just cook it down to a pulp. Again, Christmas presents?!

    I have a bowl of plums I must do something with now…

  2. 10th September 2015 / 11:29 am

    Hi Hazel – Thanks so much for the fabulous suggestions. The HFW pudding sounds wonderful and you've inspired me to have another go at hoummous, after my previous attempts have been rubbish. Good luck using up the brown rice and quinoa – I rather like brown rice nowadays, like the nutty flavour, but it does take rather an age to cook.

  3. 10th September 2015 / 5:48 pm

    I like brown rice, I just seem to be a bit last minute!

    With hummus, blitz for longer than you think, add salt and if you're used to shop bought try adding a little apple juice. If not, add some of the water from the tin. Natural yoghurt is a good addition too- it makes it much lighter. Good luck!

  4. 14th September 2015 / 8:10 am

    For the fennel – I use it in Jamie's Bloke Pasta ((?) instead of the fennel seeds and also in a gratin (fry the chopped fennel with chopped onion then layer with potato slices and cream and cheese). Both are delicious!

    • 14th September 2015 / 9:54 am

      Wow. The fennel gratin sounds delicious. Will have to work out a way to shoehorn potato/cream/cheese into a low cal regime…

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