Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bring Back the Clean Plate Club: Shopping for Food

When shopping for food:
It is the 21st century.  Thankfully we live in the USA.  We are not experiencing famine, nor are there food shortages like in Soviet Russia.  We don’t live in remote areas waiting for the Wells Fargo Wagon.  Don’t shop as if you won’t have another opportunity.  Buy what you need, not what you imagine it might be a good idea to have in your pantry.  Those good idea purchases often sit so long they outlive their appeal.
Buy a smaller refrigerator and get rid of any older second refridge.  They are inefficient, and the extra storage encourages you to accumulate more food than you can realistically consume.  Likewise, limit yourself to a refrigerator freezer and skip the freestanding unit, unless you grow so much food it makes sense to store it frozen. 
Schedule a No-Buy day or week.  I attempt to consume all the food in our freezer and pantry before Passover. This is extreme, but makes me mindful of how much surplus I accumulate, even being careful.  Try a week of no shopping and see what you learn about your habits.  We have an ingrained fear of deprivation; learning to identify and ignore that voice is very helpful in cutting back on waste. 
Plan meals that use what is actually in your refrigerator and pantry.  Google is great for this.  Once I wanted to use up a partial container of ricotta, along with a can of pumpkin.  Voila! A wonderful ricotta pumpkin pudding. 
If you are a parent, don’t permit children to heap food on their plates and not eat it.  Serve very small portions and let them take more.  I actually enforced this rule with our children’s guests as well as our own kids.  They quickly learned that I expected them to eat an apple if they took one, or to finish the cereal if they poured it into the bowl. 
Once my children moved out of the house, I discovered I never drank a quart of milk before it spoiled.  Now I put half of it in the freezer as soon as I purchase it.  It is fine for cooking and coffee.  I keep powdered milk in the pantry as a backup, which eliminates special trips just to purchase milk. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since I started to plan my meals for the week and write a shopping list I have been throwing away much less stuff, but I do hate those recipes that only use a small portion of a pack of perishable items.