Let's play Pantry Survivor

Are you committing the seven supermarket shopping sins?

Let’s play Pantry Survivor – are you committing the seven supermarket shopping sins?

Because I’m both a procrastinator and a multitasker I recently found myself avoiding work by cleaning the pantry while listening to a recording of the Hobbit. Unfortunately, owing to my overactive imagination, as I cleaned and found packets of things I don’t remember purchasing, I could hear the small but persistent voice of Gollum quietly hissing:

“What has it got in its cupboards, hmmm?”

I don’t want to admit to Gollum that we have eight different kinds of flour.

“Is saffron the precious, hmm?”

We have two tins of saffron. Clearly we were feeling rich when we bought the first tin. And just as clearly we were feeling insanely rich when we bought the second. Or forgetful. Or drunk. Hard to tell.

Gollum’s voice became louder and more insistent as I worked my way up the pantry shelves. We have five different kinds of rice – one for every occasion? On other shelves unrecognisable legumes in jars consort with each other – and I only managed to identify these by Googling ‘legume images’ and making uneducated guesses from legume lineups.

We have clearly fallen prey to the seven supermarket shopping sins:

  • Greed – shopping hungry
  • Gluttony – shopping without a list
  • Pride – product snobbery
  • Lust – buying what you can’t afford because you want it
  • Envy – coveting your neighbour’s fancy cheese and buying it for yourself
  • Wrath – becoming furious because you know you’ve forgotten something but you can’t remember what it is – and buying wine to make up for this
  • Sloth – not comparing brand prices because you can’t be bothered

By committing all of the above, we have an out-of-control pantry and overdraft. We’re overspending on items we don’t need because we don’t know what’s in our cupboards while also falling prey to marketing and its shiny, shiny promises that are nearly always terrible, terrible lies.

It has become apparent that our pantry is the place we hide many of our financial errors. The cupboards contain evidence of panicked shopping, enthusiastic shopping, forgetful shopping and possibly even slightly boozed shopping because we own a bag of curry leaves that neither of us have any recollection of ever purchasing, much less putting away in the back of the pantry to be ignored for 18 months (time determined by when we moved in and clearly would have noticed said bag of leaves as it is very large). In addition, for people who rarely use paprika, we are flummoxed by the fact we own three packets of it.

Possibly you’re rolling your eyes at the shambles in my kitchen because you’re the type of person whose cupboards have only the essentials and no items of shame like beetroot-flavoured oil, marmalade hummus or salt from places that don’t even exist. However, I’m willing to bet there’s a good chance that just like us your pantry contains bottles of expensive exotic sauces used once that now have use-by dates older than MMP.

The discovery of what lurks in our cupboards has made us consider that this month’s financial challenge might have to be a round of pantry survivor. We reckon we could live off what we have in the cupboards quite easily – allowing for a weekly fruit’n’vege run – and stop spending so much at the supermarket each week on things we think we need but don’t eat.

Cheating will result in being voted out of the household and into the naughty corner up the back of the garden, next to the compost where the cat likes to hang out because of the less than delightful stench.

We are also aware that pantry survivor will mean we cut back on the delicious but overall quite expensive purchasing of wine that somehow always becomes part of any dash to the supermarket.

Given our pantry is the dumping ground for items that time forgot, items we doubled up on and ingredients that failed to live up to expectations, I don’t think we’ll starve over the next week.

And if I can do this, so can you. Take a break from practising the seven very naughty supermarket shopping sins and live off what you have in your cupboards for a week. Because you know what’s precious? Saving money and silencing your inner Gollum.

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