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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.