March 14, 2020


Food Hoarder Maybe, But Not for a Pandemic

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Okay. Honesty time. It’s official. I have a food problem and it’s not got anything to do with how much I eat. I am going to swallow my shame and admit, I’m a food hoarder. Oh no, not a pandemic hoarder. I haven’t shopped for that at all. Why? Because I have two fridges in my kitchen loaded with food. Ever since we had the triplets, we’ve had two fridges. Actually, that’s not true. We’ve had them forever, since we used to can and freeze a gardenful of organic veggies. There’s a newer one, the older one, and in the barn, there’s the oldest one still good enough for drinks and excess holiday leftovers. There’s also an ancient freezer in the barn with some backup items that don’t fit in the house. Who needs to buy more food?



Apparently, I do. Feeling unusually productive, I decided to check the dates on the foods in the barn freezer. Ah ha! There were those five loaves of garlic bread I couldn’t find so I kept buying fresh frozen ones for each Italian meal. No problem. It was a beautiful day to handle old icy meats and veggies so I grabbed a few empty grocery bags, filled them with ease and chunked those old ice blocks into the roll out trash bin. Realizing the next day would be trash and recycling pickup and still feeling energetic, I continued my purging project in the house starting with the second oldest kitchen fridge, a side-by-side. The one where you’re supposed to be able with a glance to see what you have. Right. Except for those items in the back that haven’t seen daylight since the last solar eclipse.7624D839-A344-445D-9DD6-830A979B843E_1_105_c


This is really embarrassing but since I’ve started confessing, I’ll keep going. Have you ever cleared out your freezer and hit six-year-old “best by” dates? Even if you’re standing in front of your freezer staring at the sell-by 2014 date on the stirfry vegetables and no one else is around to know, you can still feel shame. That well of embarrassment digs deeper with each ancient family size glacier-like bag of yellow squash and broccoli. Wedged beside the no longer healthy food section, I found four-year-old boxes of waffles in both glutenous and g-free varieties. I kept digging. Oh yeah. Jackpot. Boiled peanuts and cooked collards. Yay. Those are in unlabeled Ziplock bags so they’re probably still good. I wonder if Pillsbury biscuits will still rise if they’re over a year old? Might as well cook them and see what happens. I shoved them back in for a later decision time.


Here’s the thing:  I despise grocery shopping. Therefore, when I finally go, I buy enough to last through a Boston blizzard. I stock up a bunch of food for special occasions, for when the kids come home, for holidays. Then I ask the hubby to pick up fresh foods on his way home from work. You know. Milk, bread, eggs, salad stuff and fruit. He can get in and out with the items on my list and not get suckered into all the buy-one, get-one free deals that suck me right in on every aisle. If I went shopping regularly, our fridges would explode along with our credit card.



But Houston, we have a problem. By the end of my purging fridges and freezers, I’d filled our tall kitchen trash can three times, not to mention the boxes and bottles in the recycle can. Heck! After my numerous trips to the rolling bins outside, it was all I could do to tilt the heavy cans and roll them down the long hill that is our driveway. Who knew cleaning out old food could add up to steps and an aerobic workout?


There you have it. I’ve cleared my conscience and my fridges. I’ve added far too much to the landfill in my haste to get the bins down the hill before dark. I should have composted most of that frozen food and I’ll have to live with that big icy chunk of guilt. I’m a Southern woman so I know how to gnaw off a big bite of guilt and chew on it for a good long while. I’ll do that. It’ll make me feel better about all this embarrassment. I vowed to use all the food that is now remaining in fridge and freezer and stop buying like I did for a family of six. This nest only has the two of us now. Oh, wait. What am I thinking? I need to shop for the kid’s upcoming breaks and when our local daughter’s family comes over. That means I need to restock the gluten free items and food for the grandbaby. And about that pandemic thing. Maybe I should start hoarding a few canned items. I’ll have to make sure to get a good sell-by date.


25 thoughts on “Food Hoarder Maybe, But Not for a Pandemic

  1. Haha. In a word, yes, that’s me. Well maybe not 6 years but who knows? Today I threw out frozen stuff of indeterminate age. No labels, no markings – just meat put into bags and shoved in the freezer. Oh and a packet of bacon. Dated 18 January… definitely not this year and probably not last year by the look of it. Note to self: must try harder to organise and rotate.

  2. LOL! I’m really a food hoarder, but I do have issues with toilet paper, paper towels, Wet Ones, etc. Actually my stockpiling ways are serving us well these days. 🙂

  3. My grandchildren have caught me out on this. They regularly groan as they look at an item before eating it! For them 2016 is incredibly old, while I think it is fairly recent!

  4. When I cleaned out my spice rack, I found something that expired in the 1980s. LOL

  5. I’m the opposite. There’s seldom anything other than milk and eggs in my fridge. I’m doomed.

  6. ouch having lived in India for years, seeing the starvation first hand I cannot waste food! I only ever buy what I will eat and if I do buy something I don’t like I will always find someone to pass it onto … good on you for the clean out and confession 🙂

  7. LOVED This! I think my best friends are honest and not perfect! My house is also getting organized and a good cleaning and I think I may take some before pictures too! lol.

  8. “Those are in unlabeled Ziplock bags so they’re probably still good.” HAHAHAHAH!!! Great post! I just did the same with my freezer (small chest freezer) and actually only threw out 2 items. (freezer burnt buns and a pack of really old ground chicken) Then i inventoried the whole freezer contents before repacking it.. so i know what’s in there, and will use it when meal planning, cause I’m totally hunkered down for 2 weeks.

    I’m from the great white North (southern Ontario, Can actually) but this: “I know how to gnaw off a big bite of guilt and chew on it for a good long while.” applies to us Canadians as well… 🙂 Happy shopping!!

    • Thanks. I did go shopping for this shelter in place in NC. With two sons home from college with big old appetites, I stocked up with fresh food. I’ve been a cooking machine for my three men. No wasted food here.

  9. I find clean-outs like this – be they food or otherwise – are always humbling. And usually instructive. And also cathartic. Don’t you feel like you got a new lease on life (of sorts)? Maybe you should put one of the freezers out there, too! LOL.
    Hope you’re doing OK in all this craziness.

  10. When we moved house in 2017 I tried to throw away anything too old in the cupboard and found things that had gone out of date in 2008… the worst thing about that was – we moved into the place we were moving out of in 2011. This means that I moved food that was already 3 years out of date, put it into the back of the cupboard and then ignored it for another 6 years.

  11. I feel better now. I’m always stocking up, or cooking large batches of stuff to freeze and eat later…if I can Figure out what’s in the ziploc bags!

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