Monday, September 15, 2014

Waste not Want Not: A look Into My No Food Waste Commitment, Week 1

As explained here, I've made a public declaration to not waste any more food.  I feel the food I've been wasting is one of the shoddier parts of affluence.  How can I possibly throw anymore food in the garbage when there are people going hungry?  It's something I just can't stomach any longer. 

The benefits of the No Food Waste Commitment:

*Creativity 

I've come up with some inspired dishes as of late.  As a creative person, this really feeds that corner of my brain the same way poetry or art does. But you get to eat it.  'Nuff said. 

*Money Saving

This doesn't need much explanation.  The organic broccoli I tossed out (on two separate occasions mind you) because I didn't get to it in time,  $4 each.  I certainly wouldn't toss four dollar bills in the compost, would you?

*Mindfullness (both a side effect and an important element of  doing this successfully).  

You must take stock EVERY DAY.  Being mindful and in the moment is a great way to relieve stress and feel grateful.  

*No guilt from food waste 

(Who am I kidding, I went to 13 years of Catholic school LESS guilt from food waste).

Yep, that's an abandoned breakfast apple my daughter left in the back seat of the car.  And yep, I ate it after work.

*Gratitude 

There's little question that to do this sort of thing out of anything but necessity means you have it good in the food department.  Being aware has a wonderful effect on my sense of gratitude. And gratitude = happiness. 
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But, as with any sort of behavior change, there have been some unexpected challenges:

* Eating when not necessarily hungry so something doesn't go bad.  "Oh, I'm not hungry but there are two grapes left I should eat them."

* More cooking time and more mess.  To be honest, I really don't mind this part.  Because if I'm having fun creating anything, the result is usually time consuming and messy.  I'm ok with that. Most of the time.  Although cleaning my kitchen 6 times this weekend was a bit much...

A few recipes born from this commitment:

Scrappy Soup:

Zuchini guts and seeds, a few carrots, several tomatoes a day away from becoming compost, half an onion, garam masala spice (I think that's what's in that container!), a spoon full of leftover butter, a dash of olive oil, kosher salt, a dash of red pepper flakes, a gnarly looking piece of ginger, a dash of cumin. Everything finely chopped and simmered for half an hour.  The flavors and taste of freshness were divine!  The third time I made it I even threw in half of a green apple that needed using up.


The start of "Scrappy Soup"

This is delish with a little yogurt with honey and lime or coconut milk swirled on top. If I had cilantro I would have plopped some of that on top.  Add a side of gluten free soda bread, and you have a delicious meal. 


It's not the prettiest thing you'll ever eat, but it's freaking delicious.

I made this soup 3 times this week and everyone (I experimented on 8 people) except my daughter and my guy liked it. You've got to be a fan of the spices to truly appreciate this soup.  Tastes extra good when served in a pretty vintage dish given to you by your sister-in-law. 

Tangerines with citrus, kefir and honey dressing:

I had a tiny bit of kefir left in the bottle (mainly clinging to the sides).  Normally I would have thrown it own by now, but with my new found commitment I refused. I warmed up some honey, added it to the kefir and shook up the bottle.  I took some past prime tangerines and peeled and sliced them and drizzled on top.  Little girl suggested adding a squeeze of lemon to it - and boy was she right.  The only thing to have made it more perfect was a chopped mint leaf or two. She loved it so much she declared my favorite words after eating an at home creation, "Mom, you should open a restaurant."

Tangy and Sweet Lemon, Apple and Plum Kefir Rice Pudding

A flopped batch of lemon rice (too much water so it got gummy) turned into the inspiration for this treat.  I added kefir, a couple of plums, a green apple sliced up, some turbinado sugar and cinnamon.  The result is out of this world. And nephew Liam approved.

Some things I've found helpful so far:

1) Taking stock of the fridge every single day and planning around that.

By taking stock I was able to use up a bag of raspberries given to me by a coworker recently.  She grows the BEST raspberries. They were slightly freezer burnt because they were last year's harvest, but I cooked the bejeezus out of them with orange simple syrup from the last time I made Orangettes.  I had 2 pie crusts in the freezer from the last time I thought I was going to make pie (months ago).  The result was fantastic and I served it with a cheesecake inspired topping (cream cheese and powdered sugar).


Raspberry Pie!

Leftover gluten free bagels that my daughter no longer likes (sheesh, kids) became mini pizzas for my niece and nephew. 

Sadly, when taking stock this weekend I found 2 packages of sausage in the freezer from 2012 that were no longer good.  In addition, four pieces of moldy bread went in the trash along with a way too old jar of pickled asparagus.  I'm confident that as I go along if I stay on top of this this these wasteful moments will occur less. 

2) Use-up the food that is on it's way out first.  Sweet stuff can be tossed together in the freezer and used a few days later in rice pudding or some other concoction.  Veggies can be put in a plastic bag and used in scrappy soup when you have a few extra moments on the weekend.  Any leftovers become lunch, eaten in the order of how quickly it will go bad.

3) Feed people.  To be honest, I love feeding people.  I'm of the schmarmy sort who thinks you can taste the love in food. Share your extras with friends and family. Much better to see your labor enjoyed by those you love than to see it in the trash. 

What I hope to accomplish in all of this is simple: Stop wasting food, stop overbuying, get my food budget down so I can put more in savings and give some of the difference to food banks. 

Do you have any tips to share to successfully eliminate food waste?  Please share in the comments!