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  • SC = Store Coupon
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  • RP = Red Plum
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  • WYB = When You Buy
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  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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organic living journey, buy less waste less

The following is part of an Organic Journey guest post series, written by Amy a long time helper behind the scenes of Southern Savers.

Week two of the great experiment is in full effect, and I am encouraged.  We decided after determining our budget, that our mindset with food is going to need to shift more than we originally thought.  You see, a typical Monday morning for me has the nasty job of cleaning out my fridge.  By Monday, there is plenty of food that needs to be thrown away.  That squash that I forgot about molded, we just didn’t get around to eating salad or the leftover meatloaf has passed its prime.  I HATE throwing food away.  I think about the starving children in the world each time and just feel guilty (might sound melodramatic, but it’s true).  I don’t think I have ever really stopped to think about why I have all of this leftover waste.

I am thinking about it now though.  In the process of thinking about how to make our dollars stretch, it hit me like a freight train.  Why don’t we spend the same amount of money buying less of higher quality food and use it all?  Seems so ridiculously simple that I feel a little silly sharing this with you as transformational thinking from our family to yours, but I think this might just be a smidge counter-cultural.  We live in a country where we like options, and lots of them.  We are spoiled rotten (or at least to the point that our food is going rotten!)  I am reading a book with my eight year old about a girl named Katie who is living in Uganda and serving the orphaned children there, and as we read about their diet, well, the contrast is shocking.  They have just 3-4 options of what to eat.  I have 3-4 choices of salad dressing in my fridge.  Maybe, I need to learn to be content with the choices I can afford instead of feeling this need to present my family with 10 different snack options.

The past two weeks, we have attempted to use all that we buy without wasting a bit.  Now, for this stockpiling queen, the shift to not overbuy has been a challenge.  I don’t think that buying less and wasting less doesn’t work with the whole stockpiling concept.  I think they work perfectly well together when I rightly use my stockpile.  I have seen this idea play out more in my purchasing of produce and in my cooking meals for the family.  Canned goods don’t typically go bad before I get to them, but cucumbers mold faster and taco meat only lasts so long.  (I’d love to look at stockpiling produce when it is in season in the future.  How about you?  Canning, dehydrating, freezing…so much to learn!)

Here are a few things that we have begun to implement, buy less of higher quality, waste less:

Offer fruit and veggies as snacks.  When I see the mound of beautiful produce I picked out deteriorating before my eyes and I hear, “I’m hungry!”, I am far more motivated to go and pull out fruit for the kiddos to eat.

Get creative.  Our peaches were mush, but they were organic and cost more than I had ever paid for peaches before, so I got creative.  Into the blender they went, and peach smoothies were enjoyed by all.  Another favorite might be peach cobbler…

Be diligent.  I also had purchased organic potatoes (never in my life have I paid that much!) and noticed they were starting to get a little soft.  I had plans for half of them on the menu that night, but honestly, I was exhausted.  It had been a really long day.  If they were cheap potatoes, I would have just chunked them in the trash and gone with something simple for dinner that night (like cereal!)  But there was no way in a million years that I was going to throw away those nuggets of gold, I mean, potatoes.  I made a double batch of mashed potatoes and froze half of them.

Google is your friend.  If you need help thinking creatively, use the internet to get ideas.  My Facebook friends are brilliant, Pinterest has lots of fun recipes (as does allrecipes.com) and Google taught me how to freeze and reheat mashed potatoes where they taste good.  (I figured if they sell them frozen in the grocery store, surely I can freeze them too!)

Repeat after me, “Leftovers are my friend.”  There are so many great things you can do with your leftover food besides let it sit in the fridge for a week and then throw it away when it has gone bad.  You can take them to work for lunch, eat them on the weekend so that everybody has a favorite meal to revisit and you don’t have to cook, freeze them immediately after dinner for later (again, Google is your friend) or get creative and turn last night’s tacos into nachos later in the week.

So after a week of trying this out, we didn’t have any food to throw away.  Happy dance!!  Again, please remember that no one is perfect, and next week, I might wind up throwing away gobs.  This is just a new goal that we have set, and it is helping us to think differently and be better stewards of the earth.

    • Mrg_wakefield

      Another option…instead of freezing mashed potatoes, make potatoe pancakes.  My husband’s family would have them as the main dish of a meal.  I like to serve leftover ham or some polish sausage or something along with them.

    • Aastrick

      Thank you for sharing your great journey with the rest of us. And thank you for being so transparent in the process. It is a wonderful reminder that I can even freeze mashed potatoes and look up how on google. Because we too buy organic potatoes and it makes me cringe to throw any out at the end of the week! BTW, we have a local Kroger that sells LOTS of free range, organic meats. It is an older Kroger and because of where it is located in town they sell more of their other meat options vs. the free range. So I asked the meat person one day when they mark them down and he said about 2 days before the date on the package. So when I go in I always check the dates of the free range chicken, Laura’s Lean ground beef and the Bison beef. I then make a mental not of the dates and make sure I am in there a few days before. If they have not marked them down I asked the meat person about the dates and they do not hesitate to mark them down. I typically scoop them all up and freeze them. That has saved us TONS!

    • Hctavares

      Love this, we need to do better at this in our home too, as I often have modly leftovers way back in the fridge on the top shelf that we forgot about.  We are pretty good with fruits though as I immediately freeze them for smoothies when they are getting mushy/overripe.  I have 8 containers right now in the freezer with “bad” bananas, just waiting for cooler weather to come to bake  my favorite banana bread and muffins.  :) 
      I also have a composter in my kitchen, so veggies and other leftover food at least does go into that which goes into my garden, so at least it’s not going down the drain and contaminating our water supply or going to a landfill and creating methane gas.  However, I do still feel it’s wasteful when we can’t eat it all in time and find that moldy whatever in the back of the fridge.  Thanks for writing this post and glad to hear I’m not the only one thinking about how to improve this issue in our home.

      • amysanders

        composting…i’m wanting the benefits of this without the initial learning curve!

    • Tina

      Love this article and appreciate your sharing.  Practicing what you have printed enables us to save money…and eat better.  We’ve been practicing this with diligence for a couple of months.  I reduced my grocery bill by $200 this past month….in part, because I’m shopping from my pantry more often and not giving into the desire to buy just because it is on sale (unless of course it is a REALLY good sale!).

      • amysanders

        that’s amazing! 

    • dksteng

      What a nice post.  My family is 95% organic, grass-fed and pastured.  While I do spend sometimes 50% more, we waste 100% less.  Why?  Because our grass-fed and pastured meat tastes 200% better, therefore every last bite is consumed.  If you really want delicious chicken, you can’t get it for .99 a pound.  Trust me, there IS a difference.  Same for beef, pork and eggs.  Please don’t get me wrong, I clip coupons and shop sales religiously.  Just not for what I put out to eat.  I encourage all to look into a meat and produce CSA.  

      • Mckdolan

        Where do you get your chicken?  I am in Suwanee and would love to find a farmer who I can purchase chicken from for .99 a lb.  My farmer’s market has them for $5 a lb!  Thanks :)

        • amysanders

          hey friend…i think she said that you can’t get it for 99¢/lb.  sorry!

      • Dforlaw

        I am also in suwanee and would be interested in more information as well. Thanks

      • Dforlaw

        I am also in suwanee and would be interested in more information as well. Thanks

      • ZJ

        I want to know where you get your meat as well.  I also live close to Suwanee.  I’m getting to the point where I just don’t know who to trust to buy my meat from!

      • ZJ

        I want to know where you get your meat as well.  I also live close to Suwanee.  I’m getting to the point where I just don’t know who to trust to buy my meat from!

      • amysanders

        i have noticed a huge difference in the taste of our eggs!  and i feel more full!  is there a link for meat CSA’s out there?

        • dksteng

          I had typed up a detailed response for those who commented on this post.  I’m not sure why the moderator did not approve it since my original post went right through.  Anyway, I get my locally grown, organic veggies through Riverview Farms –  grassfedcow.com.  There is also a meat CSA through them.  However, I drive to Ellijay and get my meat from Mountain Valley Farm.  Both are on Facebook as well.  I will be ordering chicken from 
          http://carltonfarms.internet-farmer.com/.  But I buy Rosie’s Organic Chicken at Whole Foods.

          • amysanders

            thanks!  that is super helpful.  I have talked to the guy who runs carlton farms (a fellow Berry graduate!), and he was super helpful.  love riverview’s mobile market.  that’s a great idea.  

    • lana

      I am loving this series!  We are headed the same direction as your family and wasting less because it costs so much more.  I started a soup container in my freezer and into that goes all small amounts of leftovers that I know will not get eaten because it is a small amount.  I also keep an eye on the leftovers in the fridge and if they are not eaten in 2 days into the soup container they go. Small amounts of fresh produce gets cut up into the container as well as produce that is starting to get soft.  When it is full I simmer the contents with some homemade chicken broth for wonderful soup.  It does not matter what is in the container as it all combines into wonderful flavor and it is always different and delicious.

      Here is a neat trick for potatoes–peel and cut into chunks about 1 inch.  Boil for 10 minutes and drain.  Pour out onto a baking sheet to cool and then package in zip top freezer bags in meal size amounts.  I keep the bags flat until they freeze.  When you want fried potatoes just add a bag to a skillet with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until the potatoes are thawed and then uncover and cook and stir to brown them. These are delicious and you would never suspect that they were frozen!   We are empty nesters and it is not easy for us to eat a bag of potatoes before they go bad so I always have these potatoes in my freezer.

      • amysanders

        those are great ideas!  i have a friend who does the soup container in her freezer.  it is so good!  she puts a dash or two of tabasco sauce in hers with tomato juice for a different base.  
        love the potato idea too.  do you think you could use it as a base for mashed potatoes? hmmm…so many good ideas.  :)

    • Janice

      Amy,
      I would add the “disclaimer” you made on the first post to each of these posts, as we’re all joining you at different points. It would help keep the tone you desired all the way through the series.

      • amysanders

        thanks for the feedback.  sorry if the tone got lost here.  truly i am.

    • Frances

      My son loves when I peeled cucumbers, slice them, and put them in the leftover bread and butter pickle juice.  If you let them soak in the juice for a day or so, they taste just like bread and butter pickles.  It seems to preserve them longer although we eat them so quickly! 

    • ab

      Don’t forget to use your Spring Mtn Farms Chicken coupons before they expire! SMFC is grain fed, no hormones. It is sold at Bilo, Publix, Food Lion, and Earth Fare! 

      • amysanders

        is it organic?

    • Vikie504

      We made the (sudden overnight) transition to whole foods about a year ago.  As a stock piler and major couponer, I thought we would spend a ton more money eating organic whole foods.  We probably spend about $25 per week more to not eat processed foods. It does require diligence though.  I am constantly looking in the fridge and making lists of what needs to get eaten first.  Often those items go in my husband’s lunch.  sorry honey:-)

      • amysanders

        yeah, my hubby gets garbage disposal duties too.  so grateful that he is willing to eat what nobody else wants to!  what has been your biggest trick to keeping your budget to a mere $25/week increase?  that’s phenomenal!

    • http://www.supercook.com helps you find recipes based only on the ingredients you have on hand. I use it to help me figure out what to do with any random ingredients I need to use up or to help me figure out an interesting things to prepare with what I have before I’m scheduled to go grocery shopping again.

    • Ucmba97

      I too am starting down this road. Having recently read several books by Michael Pollen (The Omnivores Dilema) and reading Forks over Knives, we are planning a garden for the spring, buying local and organic, sourcing grass fed meats (while transitioning to less meats altogether), and trying more vegan recipies.  I have also begun making bread again, in an effort to declare war on High Fructose cron Syrup.  Thanks for the great series and the candid comments.

      • Vikie504

        We don’t have cable so we often watch documentaries as a date night.  Forks Over Knives prompted us to immediately rid ourselves of all processed foods.  I filled huge bags with all the food from our shelves, fridge, and freezer–amazing how much junk is in the food we buy even the expensive stuff.  It’s always nice reading that others are making the transition since I am definitely the weird one in my circle.

        • amysanders

          when people look at me like i’m weird, i just tell them i completely get where they are and that i used to eat oatmeal creme pies for breakfast.  seems to make the whole thing a little more approachable.  :)

    • dksteng

      In response to ZJ, Dforlaw and Mckdolan:  I get my Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef and Heritage Pork from Mountain Valley Farm in Ellijay (grassfedgeorgia.com).  Their ground beef is $5/lb compared to Publix Greenwise at $5.99/lb.  Stew meat is $6/lb, Publix $6.29/lb.  Just remember, the Publix Greenwise beef is not certified organic nor grass fed.  Mtn. Valley’s Heritage pork is by far worth the money spent as opposed to grocery stores.  Center-cup chops are $7/lb while Publix is $4.29/lb.  I could go on, but there is really no comparison here as far as quality.

      You could also look into a meat CSA at grassfedcow.com.  I get my organic, locally grown produce through this CSA.I buy Rosie’s organic chicken at Whole Foods.   Another source is 
      http://carltonfarms.internet-farmer.com. I am placing my first order this week.

      Hope this helps.

    • dksteng

      In response to ZJ, Dforlaw and Mckdolan:  I get my Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef and Heritage Pork from Mountain Valley Farm in Ellijay (grassfedgeorgia.com).  Their ground beef is $5/lb compared to Publix Greenwise at $5.99/lb.  Stew meat is $6/lb, Publix $6.29/lb.  Just remember, the Publix Greenwise beef is not certified organic nor grass fed.  Mtn. Valley’s Heritage pork is by far worth the money spent as opposed to grocery stores.  Center-cup chops are $7/lb while Publix is $4.29/lb.  I could go on, but there is really no comparison here as far as quality.

      You could also look into a meat CSA at grassfedcow.com.  I get my organic, locally grown produce through this CSA.I buy Rosie’s organic chicken at Whole Foods.   Another source is 
      http://carltonfarms.internet-farmer.com. I am placing my first order this week.

      Hope this helps.

    • Dhall2451

      whenever i cook and have leftovers, i immediately put an individual serving size in a container and freeze. this always gives me a fast dinner for my hubby in case i am out in the evening. by doing this, he actually has a few choices!

      • amysanders

        that’s a great idea.  how do you freeze things to keep them from getting freezer burn?

    • Dhall2451

      whenever i cook and have leftovers, i immediately put an individual serving size in a container and freeze. this always gives me a fast dinner for my hubby in case i am out in the evening. by doing this, he actually has a few choices!

    • Rh

      When we have lots of leftovers I tell my family  that we are having an “All You Can Eat Buffet” and I lay everything out.  Each person chooses their own dinner.  (If they don’t eat it all, we have it the next night.)

      • amysanders

        we do the same thing!  love it!