I don’t know about you, but we waste a buttload of food up in this house. Whether it’s unfinished meals that we scrape off our plates into the trash, forgotten leftovers, or ingredients that I bought for a single recipe and never used again, I’m ashamed to admit how much we throw away.
I recently cleaned out our cabinets and tossed so much food, from a bag of faro that everyone hated and I never cooked with again, to expired boxes of noodle soup and saltines that I bought when one of us was sick. I clean out the fridge about once a week, and throw away a lot from there, too.
And we’re not alone: The Environmental Protection Agency says 20% of what gets dumped into municipal landfills is food, adding up to a whopping 35 million tons of food in 2012, says a new NPR article.
Not to get all “starving kids in Africa,” but seriously…there are starving kids in Africa. And America. And everywhere.
Still unmoved? OK, let’s say you’re a heartless megalomaniac and don’t give a shit about starving kids. Think of your wallet, then: If you spend $100 a week on groceries, that’s $20 a week you’re chucking in the trash…and $1,040 a year.
Our waste-not week begins with a refrigerator/pantry audit. We have (among other things):
- A mostly unused tub of ricotta cheese leftover from our broken noodle dish
- Carrots and onions leftover from making chicken pot pie and chicken noodle soup
- Half a box of baby spinach leftover from making spinach and artichoke pizza
- Several nubs of Parmesan cheese from various recipes, since I’m forgetful and often forget that I already have Parmesan cheese
- A box each of fresh sage and fresh thyme, leftover from making chicken pot pie and chicken noodle soup
- Chicken broth leftover from making chicken pot pie and chicken noodle soup
- A bowl of cooked rice
- Half a spaghetti squash
- Cherry tomatoes, apples, a banana
- The usual pantry staples: Rolled oats, rice, pasta, flour, baking ingredients (like sugar, spices, peanut butter chips), canned tomatoes, olive oil, breadcrumbs, vinegar, etc.
- Cans of salmon (Chloe’s vegetarianism doesn’t extend to fish).
- Sandwich bread
- In the freezer: Mostly frozen meat, including a pound of ground beef, and some cuts of pork from a pig that my cousin and his wife raised.
As you can see, there’s a lot of food just hanging around in this house! This is all without doing the week’s grocery shopping. Without much thought, I already see a few dishes shaping up:
- Homemade raviolis stuffed with ricotta, Parmesan, spinach, and sage
- Pasta and meatballs with homemade sauce from canned tomatoes and meatballs from the frozen ground beef
- Pork chops in a vinegar-thyme brine and served with rice and cooked carrots
- Peanut butter oatmeal cookies
Admittedly, this is a lot of cooking from scratch, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly swimming in time. I have a full-time job and a kid (who happens to be home sick right now). But it’s a challenge that I want to take, and I’ll spend the week blogging about it.
Wish me luck!
Wish me luck!