Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking On The Food Waste Reduction Challenge

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.


Jena said...

I know what you mean about feeling like you're "twisting arms". Lucky for me most of the challenges tie in with our values anyway, and my husband has kind of gotten used to my crazy ideas and scheming. Good luck with the latest challenge, I am pretty excited about this one!

Donna said...

You know those canned food drives? That's what stray cans of beets are for. :) Seriously, what do people who go to food pantries do with all the oddball foods we donate?

Good for you doing the challenge. I looked at it and we really don't waste much food (I think!). I decided to watch what I throw out in the next week or two and see if I should do it after all!

Green Resolutions said...

I'm excited about this challenge, too. But I'm not a good cook and I'm picky, though I'm working on expanding my food horizons! So if you have any recipes that you're sharing with your daughter, I'd be interested!

Joyce said...

Jena, my family are pretty good sports, but I don't want to be nag or a dictator. But this cahllenge was too good to pass up!

Donna-we've done that, where we've given the strange items to the canned goods drive (oh, the guilt!).

GR-I'll try to post some of my more successful recipes for you. The disasters I'll keep to myself (except that my family will have a good time broadcasting them to everyone;)

Green Bean said...

So glad you are doing the challenge. I too had thought I'd sit out most of the challenges this year but this one was too much on my mind not to pass up. Looking to you for inspiration. No pressure. ;-) But it better be good.

matt said...

How 'bout some beet borscht? Boiled beets, little bit of cream, and a hardboiled egg...

and I was the only one who liked it in Latvia.

Rose said...

First, let me say thank you for posting the video of Dr. King. I've always thought of him as a hero and remember all too well the tragic day he was assassinated.

Now, for today...I don't even need to check the statistics to see how much food we waste. At our house, it is shameful! I feel better knowing the spoiled lettuce at least goes on the compost pile and the expired package of deli turkey might be eaten by the cats outside, but we waste far too much.

I cleaned out my fridge last week, too, and discovered three different jars of sweet pickles, two opened jars of grape jelly, two bottles of chocolate syrup, and on and on.

I keep vowing to eat from our freezer until it's empty, but then I go to the grocery store and buy more meat for the freezer. Meanwhile, a couple packages of hamburger slip to the bottom, eventually becoming victims of freezer burn.

Sorry to go on and on, but you've struck a nerve! Now if you can come up with some recipes for fish sticks and sweet pickles or chicken breasts with pickled beets, I might be able to meet this challenge!

Joyce said...

GB-Hey! I thought I was getting insiration from you? What's up with this?
Seriously, we need to cheer each other on with this one. that bread pudding recipe you posted was awesome.

Matt- Blech! I don't think so. The Latvians can keep that one.

Rose-LOL! I'm so glad I don't have a freezer; who knows what would be in the bottom of it! We comppost the limp lettuce, too, but that's expensive compost, considering it's hauled in from CA. I really need to get better at keeping this stuff organized.

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