Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting fat from eating scraps

Welcome to the first day of 2010's Food Waste Reduction Challenge!

As I went through all my posts from last year's Food Waste Reduction Challenge, I remembered how kinda gross I felt after the month-long experiment. I pretty much felt forced to eat more than I normally do, just to prevent having to throw out food. And I think I gained weight over the month.

And, do you know what I finally just now realized? I'm fairly certain that we buy more food each week than we can possibly eat. Now, by Friday or so, it seems like the fridge is looking fairly empty, but we have a bad habit of overbuying just so we have a couple options on hand in case we don't have time to make some of the things we have planned. Meals with ingredients that will keep are generally punted first, but inevitably, you end up with more food in the house than you need.

Over the weeks, this sort of adjusts itself since I take into consideration food on hand that didn't get eaten the previous week, but it only really works for dry or frozen goods. Fresh food will only keep so long. So, we tend to buy less fresh broccoli and the like on the off-chance that it doesn't get eaten. I've noticed that we've done that more as a result of trying to eat local during the winter months - there just isn't a huge variety and we tend to stick to things we froze last summer or local vegetables that we can buy frozen.

Anyway, this time around, I'm not going to overeat just to keep things out of the compost. But, instead try to plan better to keep things from going bad.

One last thing, if you find foods or leftovers of things you don't know what to do with, feel free to ask for suggestions on the Food Waste Reduction Challenge posts. I'll try to offer up some recipe ideas as I'm sure will other readers!

And, if you still haven't signed up yet for this year's challenge, you can do it here.


Marino said...

I'm probably doing the food water reduction challenge by default anyway. Not much food tends to go to waste in this house. lol. The old bit might end up heading for the pig bucket but usually if there's anything leftover after tea it's put in the fridge and eatten for breakfast or lunch, or just sometime during the next day. sometimes the following night.

i won't sign up for the challenge but it would still be interesting to see some of your suggestions for dealing with leftovers.

Madz in NZ

thesimplepoppy said...

I know what helped me a lot was menu planning. I know it sounds corny, but I plan my dinners out 2 weeks ahead of time and make my grocery list from that. I also noticed that since my car's transmission exploded (damn you, automatic transmissions)and we are down to one car, so I go out less, that I'm more careful about what I buy because I can't just run out and get more. I think I might just sign up for the challenge this year. Maybe after I make sure my fridge isn't harboring anything disgusting.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Crucnhy - instead of over eating use those little bits to makes something. You can use most scraps in a soup, a casserole, tacos, pizza or salad. There are so many uses for those little bits. Little bit of mashed potatoes left over? Like less than 1/2 c? Freeze it and the next time you make a casserole, spread it across the top to crisp, add it to a creamy soup (that you are going to puree) for a delicious creamy mix.

Almost any small scrap can be frozen for later use. Don't over eat just to prevent waste.

Local veggies. If you didn't eat them durrng the week, blanch and freeze them so you can use them when you want.

I am with you and I will be working my best to use out of my pantry and freezer and just supplement with my co-op shopping.

Anonymous said...

I find that planning menus for 3 days with a leftover day on day 4 is much more efficient than the 7-day route. So many times our plans change or we have more of something leftover than I thought we would. It does mean an extra trip to the store each week but the store is close and I usually forget something when I try to go for longer stretches, so I was making that extra trip anyways. I also eat lunch or dinner food for breakfast sometimes.

Brad K. said...

I would like to see how others balance reducing waste with unexpected guests for meals and unplanned invitations out. I would hate to see the food waste challenge interfering with using shared meals to exchange hospitality, or intrude on dealing with the unexpected.

Billie said...

I know I am a bit of an anomaly here but I only make two meals for the week. One meal is almost always a soup and the other is something that is non-soup. At the end of the week, I take the left-overs and divvy them up into meal-sized portions and put them in the freezer. If some recipe didn't make 7 meals - out comes a meal from the freezer. At some point, I get 7 or 8 lunches or dinners saved up and I simply don't cook a lunch or dinner that week. I get it from the freezer. There is absolutely no waste from food going bad. I presume you could also do the same thing even if you made multiple meals each week.

I shop to my meal plan. Occasionally I get stuff I don't use in the meal (say that cabbage that I forgot to put in the soup this week) but my next batch of soup always takes care of those left-overs.

I have almost no waste food. I also eat less junk food because I cook on the weekends which prevents me from snacking while I am preparing my supper.

I might be falling apart in other areas of being eco-conscious but I got this one down.

Greenpa said...

" Now, by Friday or so, it seems like the fridge is looking fairly empty, but we have a bad habit of overbuying..."

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. :-)

ah, habits.

Greenpa said...

Just a quick suggestion- no warfare intended-

but maybe this would be a good time for some of the folks doing this challenge to - unplug their fridge.

Give it a try. It forces you to plan more tightly; and it also means you are a good bit more likely to err on the low side of purchase, not the high side. Which can be a really good thing.

Not everybody is ready to do that; as we've established many times. :-) But SOME have thought about it. I think this would be a GREAT place to try it- and talk about it, and compare stories. hmm?

Crunchy Chicken said...

Ah, jeez, Greenpa, is it that time again? Time for the annual refrigerator warfare?

Cave-Woman said...

I've found that my freezer keeps me from wasting food.

If a banana is about to turn bad---I freeze it. It makes better smoothies that way, anyway.

Soups and casseroles seem to be my "save it" foods. I take all of the odds and ends from previous meals and make many yummy soups this way.

When dealing with unexpected guests---I recommend the "freezer meal" plan.

Once a month I make about 4 pie crusts and put them in the freezer. I may freeze a soup as well. If I'm very organized, I will pre-make a lasagna and put in the freezer.

If you have any last minute guests, pull out the lasagna and put it in oven. If you want a lighter meal, warm up the soup and toss a salad.

The pie crust is easy to fill---take a bag of your favorite frozen fruit ( we pick the mulberries on our tree in the summer---and it provides LOTS of berries for pies, pancakes, muffins and oatmeal for the year), mix it with a little lemon juice and a little agave---then bake. Great, simple dessert.

Greenpa said...

Crinchy- no war desired! :-) I'm already living in curgatory at the moment; don't need any more stress.

And for the Cave lady- I DO have a freezer. Off the farm, but we have one. Just no fridge.

There shouldn't be any pressure anywhere- just- for any folks here who've thought about it; it might make sense to fold it into the "reduce waste without getting fat" thing. YOU are the one who pointed out your habit of buying too much!

The fridge is the enabler of that very widespread habit. :-) The freezer- not so much.

knittingwoman said...

I'm interested to read the comments here but I won't sign up for the challenge either because we already try really hard not to waste anything. I also rarely plan ahead and shop on almost daily basis with a weekly shop at the farmers' market. As for the fridge wars, I am very attached to my fridge:)

dee dee said...

knitting woman and I are on the same page on husband and/or I shop almost every day. But it's very convenient for us with the store so close by and actually on my way to and from work. The big advantage we have, though, is that it's only the 2 of us. So much harder to reduce waste when you've got kids to feed.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I would love to turn my fridge off from Late November through late March (because its cold enough here to put cold storage on the porch. When our fridge died I put off the repair an extra week and a half because I had everything on the porch (until it froze) and then in coolers. Something to explore more before next year. :)

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

We don't have food waste because we shop and eat according to what we have on hand. It took a bit of trail and error but we now know how much fresh food to buy that we will eat in time before it spoils. Eating leftovers for lunch also cuts down on food waste and it a huge time saver! It's much better for us than those frozen microwave meals.

Greenpa - I admire your dedication to living a freezer only life. But it's not the only way to save on electricity in the kitchen. I keep my non energy star rated refrigerator running efficiently by making sure the seals are tight and keeping it and the top mount freezer full without wasting food or by overeating. Milk jugs full of water fill both up in-between monthly shopping trips.

Lise said...

I think I got a good start on the challenge today! More here:

Ashley said...

One thing we're trying is planning two or three big things that share ingredients. We tend to make large pots of things and have leftovers for days... but when we make meals that share ingredients, then what is leftover from one meal goes into the next. Like tacos and spaghetti. The leftover chopped onion and ground beef go into the spaghetti sauce, and the leftover lettuce, cheese (I like cheese), avocado, tomatoe... form a sort of salad.