SPEAKING OF FOOD: Grocery shopping comes to a halt

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

I got an e-mail last week from my children’s orthodontist, Frank Hodges. Frank is a self-proclaimed foodie and, in fact, I featured him last spring as a Cook of the Week.
The good doctor wanted to tell me about an experiment he and his family had been trying successfully at their home. The idea, he said, was not an original one. He found it on some Web site and decided to try it as a way to save money.
The premise: Stop grocery shopping.
“For as long you can, do not buy any more food,” Frank wrote. “See how long you can make it without restocking your pantry with your favorite snack while that 3-year-old box of rice goes unnoticed. Stop replenishing your fridge with Lunchables for the kids while that frozen Christmas ham in the freezer goes to waste. You will be amazed at what you can do, and be a little richer for it.”
The only rule is that you can’t stockpile food before you begin. You have to start right away – tonight – with what you’ve got on hand.
Instead of buying Oreos, the Hodges family made homemade cookies from one of four bags of flour sitting in the pantry. They fashioned croutons out of old hotdog buns. The only thing they’ve bought at the grocery store in the past eight days is milk.
“And believe you me,” Frank wrote, “the pantry’s still full and I haven’t found the bottom of my freezer yet. I don’t know how much longer we can make it, but I can tell you that one week was way too easy. We are richer for it as well. Not only have we saved a few hard-earned dollars, but we have afforded ourselves a life lesson of how truly blessed we are.”
I was intrigued by the idea and mentioned it to my husband, who is a HUGE fan of eating out of the freezer. He agreed it was something we could do – needed to do – but with a Super Bowl party on the horizon, the timing wasn’t good for a long-term experiment.
However, for two days in a row, I didn’t set foot in a grocery store (and sometimes I’m in three in one day). One morning, I stuck two large frozen chicken-breast halves in the Crock-Pot and when I got home that evening, I boiled up some angel hair pasta and made a basil cream sauce to go over the chicken from ingredients I had in the cabinet and fridge. It was delicious and easy and liberating.
Now, I’m certainly not advocating a boycott of grocery stores in Northeast Mississippi; the folks in those stores are near and dear to me. But I am advocating the realization, as Frank pointed out, of how much we have and how much we waste.

Basil Cream Sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon butter
12 cup chicken stock
12 cup half-and-half
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
Salt to taste

Sauté garlic and onions in butter for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken stock and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add half-and-half and fresh lemon juice. Cook until sauce thickens a little. Add fresh basil and salt.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.