The Fish Sauce Postulate:
If a cook is adventurous, the contents of his fridge and pantry will always be crowded with arcane, unused ingredients unless he has,
a.) a good recipe that uses each ingredient, and
b.) a means for reminding himself to cook that recipe regularly.
Call it, "a use for everything and everything in use."
I've recently embarked upon a quest to have a clear use for everything I have in my kitchen. So far, it's yielding good results. I try a lot of different recipes and am always experimenting, so there's a constant influx of interesting ingredients. The fresh ones that don't get used get chucked pretty quickly, but the long-lived ingredients just end up taking up space. For instance, I picked up some tamarind paste at Dual Quality Products to try out this recipe. The results where not awesome, but I am totally down with cooking eggplant in the microwave and have done so to good effect since, just not south Indian eggplant. But I still have that tamarind paste in the fridge. And unless I get a recipe that uses tamarind paste, it's going to be there until it goes off (a year from now!) and gets thrown out.
So the pantry list is now more of a whole-house food inventory. I've added all of these recipes to Bubbalup, my organizational tool (forthcoming soon, I promise), and it's working just brilliantly. I keep black sesame seeds on hand, and every now and then zakkokumai cha zuke will bubble up on my list, ensuring that the sesame seeds have a chance of some day not being in my pantry.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Of course, I may be totally insane.