I read several blogs that are focusing on reducing the amount of “stuff” in their life and I’ve been very inspired. This year, I decided to try and focus more on not wasting (particularly food). My dad has always hated wasting food and apparently so does Bart’s mom, so for both of us, it was a change that made us feel good.
It’s been really gratifying for me to watch us use up the things we buy, rather than let them go to waste, in the name of convenience.
In the past, I’d open up a can of tomato sauce or evaporated milk, use half or a quarter of the can and throw the rest away because “it only costs 45 cents.” (I generally only use part of a can because I almost always half recipes, seeing as there are only two of us). Now, I’m making an effort to pour the other half in a tupperware because it’s not just the money – it’s the extra waste. (You would maybe not think that you would feel good about yourself for week about saving 13 cents of adobe sauce, but you would be wrong).
And, one of the things Bart and I have never been super awesome at is eating leftovers (unless it’s coconut chicken, but let’s be honest, in that case, the leftovers are non-existent). But now? I think we’ve only thrown away one leftover this year so far (and it was after we’d eaten it a second time – we just had SO SO much of it). I take the leftovers to work most days and if there are a lot (like the spinach sausage lasagna from last week), we have it for dinner a second time. I’m am ultra-proud of us. Also, Bart said he liked the spinach significantly better the second time around, so that was a victory too.
The other major change I’ve made is making the week’s menu (and shopping list) based on what we have left over from previous weeks, whether it be a spice, meat, or a sauce. The adobe sauce, for instance, that I bought two weeks ago, is being used again this week. I am making a pasta dish with eggplant in it, but I can’t buy a small eggplant at my grocery store, so I searched for a recipe that I could use the other half in (and it was a recipe that needed the other half-pound of sausage left over from the lasagna). This helps me keep my grocery bill down and use up the food I’ve already bought.
And really, I’ve found that not wasting is far more convenient. I can cook less (because leftovers = instant meal), I have to grocery shop less often, it’s easier to make up a menu since I already have some ingredients to go off of, I can shop faster, and I spend less time cursing myself when I discover that I have no more diced tomatoes, when I know I threw away a perfectly good half a can just a few days ealier.
Win-Win-Win-Win (unless the thought of eggplant twice in one week makes you wish for a quick death, in which case, you may not want to come over for dinner this week).
[Update: Here’s the Coconut Chicken Recipe of Happiness].