Getting Wasted

I can’t believe I’ve been so blind.  This is really a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

On the one hand–the “right” hand in this case–I’ve been shopping wisely, comparing supermarkets, clipping coupons, turning off lights and appliances, making my own laundry detergent, washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar, even wiping with re-usable toilet cloth for goodness sake!

On the other hand, I have been letting food rot and throwing it in the garbage! That’s like taking cash money and throwing it in the garbage.  It doesn’t matter if I took the bus to Price Chopper and got those asparagus for $2 instead of for $3.50 at Hartman’s. If I let them sit in the fridge for 2 weeks and then throw them in the garbage once they get too smelly to ignore, all my frugal good intentions fly out the window when I waste food like this.

Sigh.  I feel so guilty.

But to combat this bad habit that has been plaguing me (without my really acknowledging it) for too long now, I am setting a new challenge for myself: to waste less food!

I realize I should create a measurable goal for myself, like “waste no more than $5 worth of food per week” or “reduce food waste by 50%” but to be honest, I don’t even know how much I’ve been wasting, and so I don’t know exactly what’s reasonable to expect of myself.

But I do have some strategies to achieve “my” goal, and here they are:

– calculate the cost of the food I throw away.  This will mean recording what I paid for it (in my Ottawa Grocery Price Book), and then weighing or estimating the value of the waste.  Hopefully this will sink into my consciousness that throwing food away isn’t just “cleaning the fridge” but “throwing money in the garbage”.

– not buying anything perishable unless I have a specific plan for it.  This means tinkering more carefully with my meal plans and making sure I can work what I buy into the meals I’m planning.

– cleaning out the fridge and freezer (and recording what I’ve wasted) so I can see what’s in there.  Also, not storing anything in opaque containers in the fridge, so I can easily see the food I’m storing.

– checking the fridge, freezer and pantry before I plan my meals and/or go shopping, so anything that’s about to go bad can get included in the soonest meal possible.

– probably make more soups, into which I can throw my miscellany of nearly-spoiled vegetables.  And then eat them.

I’m hoping this will also help me to be better organized around lunches.  There are many days when I forget to plan and then finding myself taking a peanut butter sandwich to work.  It’s not really that bad–freshly ground peanut butter on home-made sourdough–but my partner finds it isn’t quite enough to sustain him for the day.  Planning my meals more carefully to avoid wasting might force me to make sure I’ve got lunch stuff planned too.

I will report back with my progress, and let you know which strategies work and which don’t.  And in the mean time, I’m going to give that asparagus one more sniff . . .

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6 thoughts on “Getting Wasted

  1. This was our #1 food goal at one pont. Since becoming more concious of how much we waste, we have gotten a lot better (and groceries have been cheaper!). We eat almost all of our leftovers now, and I sometimes make it a point to plan meals around what may be going bad soon. It’s made me more creative and also more careful with what we buy in the first place! But, it happens- you can’t always be top of things (actually, I feel pretty good when I manage to stay on top of ONE thing). We bought beautiful asparagus almost 2 weeks ago and i found them last night in the crisper, sad and somewhat mushy. I found that only the tops (spears?) of some were icky, so I snapped them off and rinsed them (and cooked them at that moment!). The only downside to rescuing and eating asparagus is, well, what it makes your pee smell like!

  2. We plan our menus so that perishables get eaten first and meals later in the week use more root veggies or come form the freezer. I like to make extra on the weekend and then Wednesday or Thursday (if not eating with friends!) pull something out. That is what works for us!

  3. I try to roast a whole chicken every week or so. I use the carcass to make a stock and throw in all the veggie left-overs (asparagus stems, wilting celery etc.) that I have stuck in the freezer. Then I freeze the stock which I use for cooking quinoa or rice or making soup!

    Other Green Points I’d like to share:
    I have been trying to throw my garbage in the kitchen garbage can “raw” without a plastic bag (since I don’t have anymore from grocery shopping). I then dump the raw garbage into the big garbage bag out on the balcony. With the heat I find it kind of challenging though since the veggies and stuff start rotting pretty quick.

    Learned from a magazine recently that if you nuke your sponges in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, it’s enough to kill all the bacteria on the sponges and makes them last a lot longer! I’ve been doing it now with my sponges and it totally works. That musty stink goes away totally and then seem like brand new! OH the sponges need to be moist when you nuke them!

    1. Thanks Roshell!!! You’ve made my day 😀

      And thanks for sharing your green tips. I do the same thing with chickens & veggie clippings, and currently have a freezer full of delicious stock just waiting to be used!

      I’m also struggling with the lack of plastic shopping bags . . . I’ve been doing okay by occasionally shopping at places like Bulk Barn and Grace Ottawa where they still give away a bag with purchases. Otherwise, I really don’t feel like buying something that is just going to go in the garbage!

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