November 18, 2017 by Amy
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Today’s prompt asks me to look in the fridge, and I thought I’d go with it since the only thing I typed today was a grocery list. I don’t usually type my grocery lists, but I was on my computer anyway looking up recipes and started a Word doc because I was too lazy to get up and go get a piece of paper. I ended up liking the Word doc because when my list was complete, I cut/paste everything into the order that I walk through my grocery store, which made a huge difference when I was actually there. I just went down the list, and I didn’t have to stop and scan the entire thing over and over to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. This is revolutionary, because I am a huge dork who gets really excited about efficiency. I’m pretty sure I will never, ever hand write a grocery list again.
Because of my current work in agriculture, I’ve become keenly aware of food waste. Really smart people are working hard to combat food waste on a global scale in an effort to feed more people, but we can all do better to consume what we purchase. The statistics are staggering: 30-40% of the food we produce in the United States is thrown away. This means farmers are spending more money to produce food that’s wasted, using more resources (land, water, fertilizer, equipment, etc.), and then all that food ends up decomposing in the landfill, generating greenhouse gas.
Intrigued by this, I became determined to reduce the amount of food we waste in our own home. And I’ve succeeded. It’s been an incredibly interesting experiment, too. I started by cleaning out the fridge, pretty much almost down to empty save for condiments. I also hit the pantry, throwing out expired food and donating food that was still good that I knew we’d just never eat (tastes have changed, or we didn’t care for it the first time we had it). This gave me a clean space to start, allowing me to easily see what food we have at all times.
Each week, I sit down and create our meal plan. The plan keeps us from repeating favorites too often, and allows me to be better prepared for tricky nights like Monday, when we have to be finished with dinner by 6:30 for 6:45 PSR, Tuesdays when I needed to serve dinner twice (once for Zoe before volleyball practice, and again for M when he gets home late from practice), Wednesdays when piano lessons go 5:15 – 6:30 p.m. In addition to eliminating food waste, this plan has also eliminated an incredible amount of stress from my week – I no longer panic every evening trying to figure out what I’m going to cobble together for dinner.
I hit the grocery store with my list, generated off that meal plan. I buy only what we need for this week’s meals, and very rarely make an impulse buy. This has also done a lot to keep us eating healthier. I buy so little food now that our giant fridge looks half empty, even when fully stocked for the week. By the end of the week, it’s truly empty, which is hugely satisfying for me. We discard very, very little any more. What goes into the trash, besides food scraps like egg shells and potato peels, are perishables that I can’t buy in smaller quantities, like celery. I cringe when I buy a package of celery now, knowing that there’s just no way I can use it all before it goes bad. There are only so many recipes that call for celery, and it’s not exactly the most satisfying snack. And I think the celery multiplies while it’s in the crisper, because I feel like no matter how much I use, there’s always a full head of celery in there. Stupid celery. I’m seriously considering composting because of the damn celery.
We just went to the grocery store today to prepare for the week, so our fridge is looking pretty stocked with good, fresh, healthy food. In honor of my new pledge to eliminate food waste in our home, and in honor of Thanksgiving which is my most favorite holiday because of the food, here’s this week’s meal plan and grocery list. Also, I need to hit one more store because my store didn’t have shallots. It never has shallots. I don’t even really know that the hell shallots are. I think they’re kind of like onions. Or a type of onion. I don’t know. I just know that my discount grocery doesn’t stock shallots so whatever they are, they’re the fancy version of it.
MEAL PLAN 11.19.17
Sunday – lasagna
Monday – chicken pot pie
Tuesday – Mexican casserole
Wednesday – soup & grilled cheese
Thursday – California Greens Salad w Baked Goat Cheese, pecan pie
Friday – shepherd’s pie
milk (skim & 2%)
Shop ‘n Save
potatoes for mashed (x5)
1 lb chicken breasts
1 lb ground beef
1 12 oz pkg corn tortillas
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Ricotta cheese 1 ½ cups
Mozzarella cheese shredded
milk (skim + 2%)
3 9-inch unbaked pie crusts