Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March Madness, Pantry Style

March Madness. You may think it's all about this:

And it is. We are die hard NC State fans and we made it in. So did Duke, Carolina, and Davidson. Here in North Carolina, with a bunch of teams in March Madness, folks are watching at work and creating office pools, heading to sports bars and watching their phones A LOT.

But there's another kind of March Madness going on in our house. Spring fever! I am in a clean out mode.

I tend to use all fresh veggies from this point on. Local produce is more plentiful at our grocery stores. Our farmer's market friends have been busy in their greenhouses.
My friend Clay who I knew in another work life. Now he's an organic farmer and I buy the best veggies from him!
 So, it's time to revisit my canned and dried goods. There are things on the shelves that were bought in a winter storm induced moment. Things that mean winter weight gain and now I'm looking at a warm weather diet. Ingredients that will be great in summer dishes but others great for donation to the food pantry. I take like items off the shelves and determine what will work best for spring and summer dishes and what heads off to our local ministry's food pantry. 

For instance, rice and bean noodles face off:
Rice was great in soups and casseroles this winter. But that meant weight gain. Who's better? Pretty much a no-brainer for this time of year.  Black bean noodles have protein, fiber and hardly any carbs.

Peanut butter versus almonds?

Okay, I'm out of natural peanut butter. BUT almonds led all winter long and they are perfect for hiking. Almonds for the win.

Then there's tuna up against beans.

Whew. This game, I mean comparison, was tougher than I thought. Tuna is a power packed traditional diet food but it does have issues. Mercury levels, sodium in some brands, price. Canned beans are the underdog since they are considered a survival of the cheapest food. But beans of all kinds have a great blend of fiber, carbs and protein and the price is right. They go great as a side dish or cold marinated salad ingredient. Beans pulls ahead.

Lastly, we're moving out of hot cereal season. 

One team from the North and one new addition from  South America made this an interesting bracket face off. Oatmeal and quinoa are so close in protein, iron and carbs, flip-flopping on percentages and even gluten-free. Quinoa can be used in salads and sides while oatmeal is great for granola bars and cookies for hiking. I had to call this one a tie.

So, do you spring clean your pantry? Are there staples you consider fall/winter or spring/summer musts? What are winners on your ingredient list? And lastly, are you paying attention to that other March Madness that involves a ball?      


  1. I'm not a huge football fan. It's more about hockey in our household. "March Madness" for me is the annual #wipMadness writing challenge (much like Speedbo) that I participate in. You'd think daily check-ins with both groups would keep me well focused on the writing, but I'm still just crawling along.

    One big distraction is the mini kitchen renovation that's just getting under way in our household. I have to keep taking breaks to check what's happening. One advantage to the work will be a grand emptying out of all the cupboards -- very timely for making some spring food changes. :)

    1. That's so exciting. We did the same a few years ago. And oh, the cleaning out of the cupboards.

      Good luck with that and your writing as well. Such fun.

    2. I can only imagine how disrupting that would be, Carol. But won't it be wonderful when the kitchen is done!!

    3. (How did I manage to mention football rather than basketball? Heh!!! Just shows you what I DON'T know about your March Madness.)

      We have a fairly small galley-style kitchen at one end of our family room, so the changes will impact the whole area. Yes, I'm really looking forward to seeing the end result.

    4. You will have to show us pictures!

  2. Peanut butter loses?? What?? Send that stuff right down here. My guys know what to do with it! A cute idea!

    1. It might have won if it had been natural peanut butter packets I could squeeze in my mouth!

      And I look forward to following Georgia State btw!

  3. There will be LOTS of basketball on around here during March madness! At least as long as Duke is still in it. :)

    But I won't be clearing out pantry items. I'm not really a seasonal eater as far as the pantry goes. I love my peanut butter and oatmeal year round. :) But I'll definitely be buying more produce!

    1. Grandboy just told me he picked Kentucky over Duke for the championship game. Great-granddaddy is not ever going to find that out!

      ManO tends to only eat oatmeal in winter and isn't a big fan of oatmeal cookies so the weather gets warm and he's back to cold cereal.

      Do you have a Farmer's Market near you?

  4. Now that we no longer live in Kentucky or Kansas with all the insane March basketball stuff going on with UK and KU, I don't pay much attention to college basketball.

    And yes, we did live in both states that started with a K. In fact, we moved from Kentucky to Kansas. And don't think that wasn't confusing when it came time to change addresses and REMEMBER which K state we lived in!

    But I love your pantry face-off :) And we all know who is going to be the final winner in your house: anything fresh!

    I go through our pantry on a regular basis - about once a year - to make sure I haven't missed any cans lingering in the back. I use the "store what you eat, eat what you store" system, along with FIFO (first in, first out), so I'm constantly rotating the food and using it up. And replenishing the pantry is always a section on my grocery list. So no spring clean-out here.

    I'm with you on the fresh veggies, though! They're so hard to get here during the winter. OTR truckers have laws they need to follow, and being 6 hours from the nearest distribution center means that the trucks drive here one day, sit overnight, and then are unloaded the next morning (don't ask me about the particulars of the laws - I just know it works that way). Even in refrigerated trucks, if the temps are below 20° or so, the produce suffers. So on a bad day there's very little available in the store. On a good day you know the produce won't last more than a day or two in your home fridge. :(

    So we use a lot of canned and frozen veggies to make sure we aren't spending good money on spoiling produce. And I'm so glad we have those options!

    All this means that I SO looking forward to fresh greens this spring!!!

    1. I'm a big fan of FIFO but sometimes I overbuy or grab a can with a too close due date. So those things go off to the food pantry. Checked my current can supply and most everything is mid 2016 and 2017 now.

      I threw away too much good produce last year and am adopting the European method of only buying what I need for a day. Fortunately I can walk across the street or go to the nearby weekend farmer's market for that.I'm also pledging to freeze more farmer's market produce this season.

      I have no choice about basketball in my family. I have to pay attention or be left out of all conversations.

  5. Wait -- isn't March madness another term for Speedbo?!

    I am so diehard boring -- my pantry stays pretty much the same year round though obviously fresh produce makes its way into my kitchen more often. I even eat oatmeal in the middle of the summer! And I make crockpot soups and stews because they're cheap and nutritious and don't heat up the kitchen the way the stove does.

    Wait -- there is a diet switch for me. Love yoghurt with fresh fruit in the summer. And fresh blueberries and sliced banana with some half and half cream. Sometimes if it's really sweltering I'll have one of those for breakfast instead of the oatmeal.

    I'm so envious of your warmer temps. We've dipped into unseasonably low this week. -19 C. today. The wind chill is something fierce too. But it's sunnier and the days are longer so surely to goodness the snow and ice will melt soon.

  6. Whew. That's something. The sun is shining more here too.

    That is a good way to consider soups that they don't heat things up. I am going to have to remember that. Making summer soup with my produce leftovers.

    Hope things continue a warming trend.

  7. Our pantry doesn't change too much from season to season. We've just started eating oatmeal for breakfast (again) upon recommendation from the dr. (Mike's cholesterol), so I think that will be a pretty steady breakfast food. The rest of it? We just eat it year round. I thought you might be publishing your bracket... Our UTEP Miners bit it in the NIT tourney last night. :( But I do think Kentucky's going to win it all.

    1. Grandboy has Kentucky beating Duke. Sniff. I have Georgia State versus NC State because I am all about being competitive with Piper. Lawboy asked me if I knew bracket rules. I told him I go by intuition, loyalty and flipping coins.