Living Off Your Pantry Is A Lesson In Creativity And Zombie Preparedness

04.23.16 2 years ago
Pantry jars

E.S. Huffman

I have this perfect not-for-profit proposition: Pantryholics Anonymous. It would meet weekly in the basement of churches around the country. All the members in a meeting would sit on metal folding chairs arranged in a circle, and one by one, each member would go around giving an introduction to the general effect of, “Hi, my name is E.S. and I have a quart-sized mason jar full of cheap za’atar.” And then everyone would say, “Hi, E.S.” And then the za’atar would be distributed to interested members, and everyone would go home with their hearts, as well as their pantries, unloaded onto caring strangers.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Hi, my name is E.S. and I have a quart-sized mason jar full of cheap za’atar that I haven’t touched since I purchased it two years ago. I also have a multitude of dried beans, more wheat bran than I know what to do with, and about five pounds of neutral-flavored whey protein that I bought back when I was into macros and bulking. Among other things.

My pantry overfloweth with cooking and baking riches that I never use. I’ve packed it up and moved it to three different states in the past four years. And still—and still! I find myself exceeding my not-insubstantial grocery budget each month.

The Elon Musk Challenge is this slightly nutty thing modeled off of something the Tesla CEO dared himself to do for a month when he was seventeen years old: live, foodwise, on just $1 a day. Musk’s rationale was that $30 was not too difficult to earn in a month, and so if he could keep himself alive for just a dollar a day, he’d do fine as a starving entrepreneur.

A couple months ago, Kathleen Elkins over at Business Insider tried the challenge for herself, adjusting for inflation and coming up with a $60 budget for the month. She succeeded, but it involved an awful lot of pasta and peanut butter.

Me, I want to go in a different direction. I want to spend no money on groceries for an entire month. Why? To see if I can do it. To extract myself from the food-based economic system for awhile. And because I’m pretty sure the Zombie Apocalypse is coming and I want to know that I can survive if I have to barricade myself indoors.

The other thing is, I’ve been trying to save up for a trip to Norway. A month of no trips to the grocery store means that I can get that much closer to the fjord tour of my dreams.

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