I really try but we still end up wasting a lot of food in my house. Last week I challenged myself to reduce food waste and clear out all the perfectly good food I wasn’t using. I spent $80 on perishable essentials (and a few rolls of paper towels) at the grocery store (that’s it — $80 — ?I have 3 kids!). The family and I got by on what was in the freezer, pantry, CSA box and garden.
The recap ….
Resist the temptation to this “this is great Dana, but I could never do this.” YOU most certainly CAN … it was way easier than I thought it would be. Here are some highlights…
- Sunday dinner was the kick off – a roasted chicken with CSA veggies – leftovers turned to chicken stock for soup and sandwiches for later in the week.
- Day 1 – I dug into the freezer and found pancakes for breakfast and rolls for sandwiches (BLTs with tomatoes from the garden) – bread freezes beautifully – just toast or pop in the oven to defrost.
- Day 2 – I make pizza every friday night – homemade dough is a big money saver – I used the leftover dough to make mini pizzas for the kids’ lunches and garlic knots for a dinner side dish.
- Day 3 – No onions, no problem – scallions from the CSA work in sausage and peppers and can even hold up in Ina Garten’s Guacamole Salad
- Day 4 – If you can stuff it in a quesadilla, my kids will eat it.
- Day 5 – Pizza Fridays NEVER get old.
A few things I learned …..
- Smoothies SAVE breakfast – all kinds of ingredients get new life when a Vitamix gets involved (and leftovers make great popsicles).
- I buy too many salty snacks – my kids survived just fine when the goldfish supply ran dry – we opted for trail mix, hummus, olives and unopened boxes of whole grain snacks hiding in the back of the pantry.
- Saving food saves money — I knew this already but it felt so good to really stretch my dollar and I saved more than 300 bucks!
- A whole chicken is the way to go – between soup, salad and sandwiches, I got more than 6 different meals for my crew out of a 5lb bird!
- My freezer game is strong – chicken sausage and pesto came out, over ripe bananas went in – utilizing the freezer is KEY to reducing food waste.
- Think outside the (cereal) box – when you’ve got a bunch of boxes will scraps of cereal – make my Unicorn Cereal Treats (recipe below)
Unicorn Cereal Treats
A bunch of mostly empty boxes of cereal and a partially eaten bag of marshmallows were the inspiration for this tasty treat #reducefoodwaste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups marshmallows (about 3/4 of 10.5 oz bag)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 cups assorted whole grain cereal
2 tablespoons colored sprinkles
Canola oil cooking spray
Spray a 9 x 13 x 2 pan with cooking spray – set aside. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add marshmallows and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until melted. Add cereal and sprinkles and gently fold until cereal is well coated. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press down to flatten using parchment or wax paper. Allow to cool; cut into squares to serve.