Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pantry Shame

I recently received a text most parents would be ashamed to receive from their teenager - lucky for you I have no shame.  Here is the transcript for you to enjoy:

Sent from school at 12:36 p.m. (lunchtime)

The Redhead: My ceral had a bug in it 

Worst Mom Ever:  sweet!  now u&daddy have something in common.*

The Redhead:  It was sooo gross and I found its shed in the ceral!!!!!!!!!!!!

Worst Mom Ever:  awesome.  now i have material for my next blog!  thx, Red!

The Redhead:  And i was halfway through it

The Redhead:  It was sooooo nasty

I laughed so hard I snorted.  And please notice that I get extra points for not texting the correct spelling of the word cereal to my child in his time of distress.  And I was duly impressed at his use of the scientific term "shed". 

*Aquaman loves to tell the story of how I neglected to throw out sour milk from my dorm room's mini fridge in college so that he ended up, in the dark, unknowingly eating cereal with chunky, sour milk.  Yum. 

Happens to the best of us. 

The offending cereal. Notice I am careful to buy gluten free. Just not careful enough to throw it out when needed.

And it happened in this instance because it was the end of the month - also known as "That Time When We Have No Money Left to Go to the Grocery Store" or "Can't You Just Hold Out for 10 More Days?" or my favorite refrain, "Surely that cereal is still good that we bought 6 months ago?"   

Money is tight.  When the cash I've set aside for the month's groceries is gone, it's gone.  And every month I try and explain this to our three growing boys.  I warn them not to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting.  I lecture them on how it might be smarter to parse out the granola bars in their lunches rather than trying to sneak two or three each day.  I remind them that when the applesauce and mandarin orange cups are gone, there won't be any until next month. 

They don't listen. 

They're just hungry.  All the time.   

So they instead eat with wild abandon at the beginning of the month and then we're left with pantry staples like rice and canned black beans.  Pasta and canned spaghetti sauce.  Pancakes for dinner.  Ramen.  Soup. 

I even feel a sense of pride when the pantry gets gradually more bare as the month progresses.  Waste not, want not! 

But one might argue that I took things a bit far.  In my quest to encourage the boys to eat the "pefectly good" things that are always in the pantry, I ended up feeding The Redhead bugs.  Or so he claims. 

When he came home from school after "the incident", he vowed that he would never again eat cereal.  "Good," I thought to myself.  "Cause you sure can't spell it."  He acted as if it was my fault.  A failing in my role as mother.  I am supposed to make sure and protect him from the world's ills, after all.  A bug.  In his cereal.  The horror. 

To make up for this lapse, I threw myself into making birthday cakes for Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Having twins is a lot of work when the birthday rolls around - especially when they request very specific, custom-made cakes.  This is no one's fault but my own for indulging them since infancy in any cake request they had.  But, in my defense, it was a necessity for me to make them myself to guarantee they were dairy-free, nut-free, and wheat-free.  Food allergies complicate matters. 

So I baked and I frosted and I came up with these: 

Birthday cakes with almost rancid icing. Okay, it was rancid. There. I said it. You happy? 

Pretty nice, huh?  Only when I tasted the icing, it seemed off.  Just slightly.  I couldn't put my finger on it at first.  The sleepover party went off without a hitch.  The cakes were mostly demolished.  I helped myself to a piece the next day.  Again, the taste was slightly off.  More of a smell, really.  And then I became suspicious.  I pulled out the enormous tub of shortening that I had used, opened the lid, and inhaled deeply. 


That was it.  That was the smell.  That shortening-that-is-just-starting-to-turn-rancid-smell.  I looked at the bottom of the tub for the expiration date.

July 11, 2011. 

Over a year expired. 

Oh, the shame of it all. 

I had now successfully poisoned all three of my children in less than 24 hours. 

I dove into the pantry, checking dates on every item.  I threw out expired cocoa, creamer, grits, cookies, more cereal, dried fruit and seeds, yeast, balsamic vinegar and a candy apple kit from 2008.  2008! 

Then I moved on to the refrigerator.  I was a woman possessed.  Out went salad dressings, salsas, jelly and mustard.  Mustard expires, people! 

I now feel cleansed.  I know that I could only have done this purging with Aquaman at sea.  He cannot see things go to waste.  Even if they are four years expired. 

So I'm on a clean pantry high.  It's a new month, and I've got a new budget for groceries.  I have vowed to never again let food stay around for so long.  We will only buy what we can eat within a few weeks.  We will not waste!  We will not overspend!  Waste not, want not! 

The Redhead and I went to the store last night and stocked up.  He even picked out some cereal.  And I bought some shortening.     


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