On a cold February night when I was home from college, my family and I enjoyed a venison meatloaf dinner; mashed potatoes, broccoli, all the good stuff. As my sister and I were cleaning up, she dumped the remaining meatloaf in the trash can. “What are you doing?!” I cried, “that’s good meat, we can eat it for lunch tomorrow” I chided her as I scooped the meatloaf out of the trashcan (for the record it was just sitting on top of some crumpled napkins. I realized this still may not decrease the grossness factor for some). Her fiancee looked on in horror, water dripping onto the floor from the dish he was drying- “you just picked up that meat from the trash can, that’s disgusting.” So then I was peer pressured/shamed into keeping it in the trash rather than rescuing it for meatloaf sandwiches the next day.
I should tell you, before you think I’m totally nast that I have an extreme disgust of mold/rotten food. A bad incident with some fruitflies/limes/cornona bottles in college produced me seeing a hotpocket once more than should have been viewed after I caught a whiff of the mold. I have a gag reflex sometimes when I even think about mold.
With that said, I also hate wasting food. When we came home from a conference last week I found some yummy tamales I had meant to put in the freezer still sitting in our fridge. The conversation with my husband went like this:
J: do you want some tamales for lunch?
D: Ummm, aren’t those like 6 days old?
J: Yeah, but I’m sure they’re o.k. I’ll just make some guacamole to put on top of them (like this would help?)
D: Jess, they have chicken in them. Meat goes bad after a few days.
J: Well, let’s just look it up. (This is how we usually solve our fights. The iphone is a tremendous boon to our marriage) Typing in “how long does meat keep in the fridge” ensues on the search engines on both of our macbooks. Dave finds a site that says no longer than 2-3 days. I find one that says 3-4.
J: See, it’s only been 5 days since I bought the tamales! I’m sure once I microwave them, they’ll be fine!
D: We have enough going on this week that I don’t really want to take the risk getting food poisoning. If you want to, go ahead. Since when did you become the person that wants to eat old food?
Scowling, I threw away the tamales and grumbled about it the whole time.
So, now you might think I’m nasty AND cheap. And, yes, part of the reason I hate wasting food is that I feel like it’s throwing away money. And I think about the people in the world who don’t have the option to throw away even the things I compost. Though it sounds cheesy and trite like when my mom said it after I wouldn’t finish my lasagna “there are starving children in the world” it’s still true today, just like it was back in 1985.
One of my friends in Philly has gotten creative about not wasting food. When we visited his community house last summer, he pulled open his freezer & proudly showed us his gourmet selection of meat, bread & other items. “all of it was free!” Dave, always one for a bargain, asked “what do you mean free?” Our friend timmy then explained how he and his housemates are “freegans” (here is the wiki link for a longer explaination: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeganism) and basically collect food that stores in the area are throwing away that will expire the next day. So none of it has actually gone bad, but the stores will be liable if anyone buys it and it goes bad a few days later. I give them props for being creative about not wasting even though I don’t think I could get up at 2am to dumpster dive for about to expire english muffins.
So, what do you hate wasting? Food? Time? Water? What has been the most creative way that you’ve used up leftovers?The most creative thing I did lately to not waste food was to use quinoa from dinner the night before for breakfast the next morning. We were leaving for a trip that day, so I just heated the quinoa and ate it like oatmeal with raisins and milk. It was actually pretty good & really healthy!