I've signed up for The Food Waste Reduction Challenge being sponsored by The Crunchy Chicken blog. Here's the funny thing: I had decided to go easy on the challenges this year, especially if they were things that involved other household members having to get on board with me to do them. Just because I'm interested in something, doesn't mean I should be twisting their arms to do it too.
But right after the holidays I had begun thinking about how I could get back to some of my old habits of frugal cooking, both to save money, and to show my daughter how to do some of it before she moves out. She's a good cook in her own right, but it's been a while since she saw me serve some of the very basic cheap meals I used to make when I was feeding the whole hungry tribe. She might benefit from a review, and I would like to save money towards some home improvements, etc. So, this challenge just kind of dovetails with some thinking I'd already been doing.
The main purpose of the challenge is to make sure you don't let things spoil, or wind up throwing food out. Crunchy has some statistics on her blog that I had seen before that are kind of appalling. If you click on the button in my sidebar you can read the article. Americans throw out so much food it's ridiculous! We are so fortunate that we can generally afford to do this, but isn't it just kind of immoral, in a way, when there are hungry people in the world? If we were more careful, and spent less on food, we could be giving more to those less fortunate, even those right here in town. Our church has a food pantry, and makes deliveries to hungry people all the time. I could give more to that, if I spent less on our own food.
Even though the challenge doesn't start officially until February, I'm ready to get going on it. Today, I went through my big pantry cabinet and made a list of every single thing in there, including the approximate amount of each item. How did we wind up with three open boxes of graham crackers? Or that can of beets? (Now that one will be a tough sell. Why did I buy it?)
I also looked through the fridge and found a few strange orphans in the very back- a big jar with one large pickle, several yogurts that have been there a while because they were too hard to see behind other things. I did some rearranging. Fortunately, nothing's too spoiled to use, if I get busy.
Then I sat down and, using the list, came up with some dishes that could be made without having to go to the store for more ingredients. It's a little bit of a strange mixture of things, but we really could eat pretty well for almost two weeks with out grocery shopping at all! After that, there would be a few items needed to complete ingredients for a few more dishes. I'd like to eat it all up, until the cabinets and fridge are basically bare, and then start from scratch to restock with a better mix of things. I'll keep you posted on how this goes.
So, look out, family! You may be seeing some "Dinner Surprises" coming your way! Keep the groaning to a minimum please.