Alright, so here's a pretty big update. I've been entertaining a fair bit, and cooking nearly everyday. Coupled with my negligence in going to the store until I absolutely have to, this has been the perfect recipe for using up a lot of stuff. So much so, that I am down to only having two bins of food in my closet. Can you believe it? That means half the bins are gone and I actually have space in my closet for things not food related!
Since I don't know exactly what I've used, I will simply tell you approximately what's left:
30 pound of pasta
15 pounds beans max
most of the dried mushrooms (I've actually started working those into my food recently, though)
maybe 4 pounds white rice
1 pound maybe of red rice
1 1/2 pounds medium rice
1 pound brown rice
1 pound barley
1 pound bulghur
1 pound whole wheat berries
1/2 pound lentils
roughly 5 pounds of tea (yeah, seriously, I've used up that much tea that that's all I have left)
I've used up all the pastry flour, whole wheat flour and self-rising flour. I've stopped keeping track of all-purpose, cake and bread flour (and matzot) since I only keep one bag (box) in the house of each at a time and don't buy more until it's nearly gone.
Most of the dried fruit is gone. I've got 4 dried angelina plums left, a half pound of prunes and a half pound of golden raisins. Oh, and the cherries I eat with my oatmeal (that I haven't been eating since November, except to bake with).
I've made no dent yet in the rice pasta or seaweed, but that's on my list for what to start attacking next. I don't keep an excess of sugar, baking powder, soda or the like anymore. I'm also no longer keeping track of dried tomatoes, rutabega or the like, as I'm running through all that stuff at a reasonable rate at this point and no longer keeping an excess of any of it. Even the jams and jellies are starting to be used up. There's still a lot of those, but I can see the progress.
It's weird having "so little" dry storage remaining. My goal of course is to keep at it, without replacing stuff, until all the dry storage is gone and I'm left with a well-stocked but reasonable in quantities pantry and no food in my closet. As I've started to view my home as having very little food (which obviously is a relative thing, since to nearly everyone I know I have more food than people can imagine what to do with), I've been thinking more and more about food storage. I really do believe that people, if they have sufficient and appropriate storage space to do so, should try to keep a year or two of dry storage in their home. I think that if I were the type of person who wants to always be living in one place, without the weird nomad "gene" that tends to complicate my life so very much, I'd already be seriously restocking since I've only probably got 6 months of food here.
I've found, thus far, that keeping so much food in the house is really helpful to me in a lot of ways. First of all, I actually CAN go a couple months without shopping for food. That might ultimately result in me experiencing some food boredom, but it's okay because it's all about safety nets. If I'm broke, I won't starve. I've come to view all this food storage as being similar to the 6-12 months of cash savings most financial advocates recommend we keep put back for emergencies. While food obviously needs to be rotated in and out, unlike cash savings, they provide the same potential relief if something goes wrong. If there are food or power crises (as, for example, we had some issues with during Ike), I don't need to rely on disaster relief to keep me fed. If I lose my jobs (such as during the last year when I didn't work), I still get to eat. If I'm ill for an extended period (like last semester, when I couldn't get out of bed for a week because my fever was so high), I still get to eat. All in all, it's a safety net and "savings" plan I think I will always keep as part of my life (so long as I know where I'll be living for the next year or so), simply to add an extra layer of security.
Since I think it's relatively easy to build up food savings without breaking the budget, simply by adding a few extra items to the grocery cart when they're on sale, I can't see a logical reason not to do so, given that adequate space for storage exists. Just something to think about, I guess. Something I've been thinking a lot about, anyway.