June 12, 2009

Food Waste Friday

Drumroll, please...

No waste this week! Yay! So you will be spared photos of rotten lettuce, onions, and grapefruit. If you're new to this blog, on Fridays I post a photo of the food that went bad that week. And hopefully there isn't any because I'm trying really hard to use up everything I buy.

I've been working on reducing our food waste for the past couple of months, since I answered The Frugal Girl's waste-no-food challenge. We have very seldom had zero food waste, but we're wasting much less than we used to.

For the benefit of my newer readers, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my journey. Sometime back in February or March, I started reading Jonathan Bloom's blog called Wasted Food. He's writing a book about the food we waste in this country, its effects, and what we can do about it. So I was inspired to start thinking about our own food waste.

My first effort was to label our leftovers so we wouldn't forget about them. That worked brilliantly and you can read that post here. It even turned out to be fun. My next inspiration was to create an "Eat Me" shelf in our fridge and that post was noticed by Jonathan Bloom himself and mentioned on his blog. Thanks to my husband, the "Eat Me" shelf has been a big success and it's the first place he goes whenever he's hungry. He's much better than I am with eating all the food that's about to go rotten.

Since we've been labeling our leftovers and using the "Eat Me" shelf, our waste has dropped dramatically. One other thing I've done is to be very careful about food shopping. I buy less than I used to and we still have plenty of food. I used to buy a lot more produce than we actually needed. I like to think that's because I'm an optimist. But it feels great not to throw so much food away.

If you want to find out more about the devastating impact on the environment of all the food we're wasting, check out Wasted Food. And if you need another incentive, I've cut our grocery budget from $100 a week for 2 people to $80 a week. I'm pretty happy with that, but The Frugal Girl feeds her family of six very well on that amount. Check out her blog if you want to get inspired to spend less on top of reducing your environmental impact.

So how did you do this week? Please leave all your food-related tips, questions, and musings in the Comments section. Next week I promise to bring you my findings about the nutritional value of leftovers. I think I'm avoiding that, because we eat A LOT of leftovers.


calimama @ compactbydesign said...

Congrats on the lack of waste.

I think there are two key elements in the $80 budget to remember.
1) living in Southern California things are just more expensive.
2) what is considered grocery?
We try for the same budget but often don't meet it. In part, I believe, because of the prices here, because we include all toiletries (except make-up and medicine) and paper products (toilet and towel), and because we buy organic milk and eggs (spendy!).

But I love having the budget as it's a great starting point and goal. Good luck with it!

Angela said...

Hey Calimama- Good point, as far as what's included. I am NOT including paper products, cleaning products, etc. in the $80 total. I DO buy organic milk and eggs, but that's 1/2 gallon of milk every week and a dozen eggs every 3 or 4 weeks. Also, I do buy organic produce, especially now that we're in a CSA, but I can usually find good prices on fruit and vegetables in CA.
So I think a lot of it is simply WHAT you buy- we eat a lot of leftovers, I purposely make them with chili and soup and such.

I've seen your budgets and you're very close- believe me, a lot of people spend A LOT more. Ever wonder "who buys this stuff?" when you see all that packaged food and convenience food- cut up fruit and such? Some people do, or they wouldn't offer it. I'm convinced that some people don't know how to shop, I've shopped with friends and I've seen it. They don't even know how to do the simplest price comparison. Or they'll shop for something they have in their head, never mind the price, instead of what's in season or on special. I'm convinced education is the key to shopping on a food budget- the whole reason I want to stay healthy and organic on $80 is because that's the Food Stamp budget and people say it's not enough. I say it is, it's just that you can't buy frozen pizza and all that crap. I think I'm on a rant- I have to post about this soon.

I think the budget is good because you start to notice what you spend. Even before I ever did the Compact, I would never buy packaged or frozen items - they just cost too much. And that's how a lot of people shop. Also Trader Joe's has it's problems- mainly packaging- but they do have some good prices.

Mrs Green said...

Hiya, congrats on a brilliant week with zero food waste. We managed it too this week.

Like you we have a shelf in the fridge which holds the things that need eating up right away. That's the top shelf. As you get down the fridge shelves, the stuff will last longer. We find this works well for us.

Like you say though, the real key is buying less in the first place and I love the challenge this presents me with, with creative reuse of leftover food.

Here's to another great week!

mrs Green

Ellen said...

$80/week is the food stamp budget? I would love to hear more about this. Angela, please expound soon....

Angela said...

Mrs. Green- Thanks for your comment. Yes, buying less in the first place is actually hard sometimes, but always works. I have yet to be confronted with a day without produce. At the least, there's always potatoes or frozen peas.

Ellen- yes, I'll look it up at The Crunchy Chicken. Basically, someone was trying to show how hard it was to live on the Food Stamp allowance. They ended up eating junk food and saying, "see- it's impossible to live on this amount and you have to eat junk food." I think their conclusion was wrong and happened because of a lot of factors, which I won't go into. I don't remember that blog. Then the cruncy chicken did a challenge- live on the food stamp allowance, PLUS do it organic and local. Stacey at My Friend Oprah was doing $80 a week for 3 people, and eating local and organic. So I was inspired by that. Here's the sustainable food budget challenge from The Crunchy Chicken: http://www.thecrunchychicken.com/2009/03/sustainable-food-budget-challenge.html
And the budget for 2 people is $323 a month, which I've been able to do for the past 3 months. I'll blog about this soon, in case some people missed this.

Kate Sommers said...

Did anyone see last weeks Oprah show on consuming?
She was talking about the same things that all of you here at The Compact are up to.
I mentioned The Compact in my blog yesterday, giving kudos to all of you that are doing what it takes to make a difference.
Thank you all for caring, for taking the steps towards a better world and for paving the way for others to do the same.

WilliamB said...

Calimama -

IIRC, the frugal girl does include toiletries and paper goods in her weekly $80. She does it by working CVS' Extra Care Bucks (a rewards program) very, very hard and, as a result, getting most of her drug store goods for $0.

Also her weekly food budget is $80-100 although she seems to be under $90 most of the time.