Want not , Waste not

24 Sep

I feel awful saying this but here goes – I waste a good bit of food each week.

It all stems from the fact that I absolutely love grocery shopping. Well, I think its not just the act of going to the store to buy groceries itself but the whole planning recipes, looking up ingredients, going to different stores for the best deal, ordering in bulk. You would think maybe it was the whole getting a good deal thing that I enjoy – but no, I don’t get the same high from clothes shopping or furniture shopping. In fact, I often have buyer’s remorse after those, but with groceries I seldom do.

All this is okay if I actually utilize what I buy . Sadly, I think I get carried away in the idea of putting together a meal rather than the actual cooking itself – so I do end up wasting a good bit of what I buy. Produce that looks green, fresh and inviting at the store often meets its end in my fridge a few weeks later. I have millions of recipe pins on pinterest. I read a minimum of 6-7 food blogs every few days or so. My head is buzzing with ideas on what to cook and how to prevent wastage. I cringe every time I throw something in the trash but yet I follow the same cycle each week.

Part of this is the fact that the husbadoo has decreased his consumption of food in general in the  last year or so. Its not that he doesn’t like the food I make, he is just being careful about his portions , which I guess is good. But of course, I haven’t reduced my cooking quantities. I have tried – put away bigger utensils, forced myself to use the smallest ones, but the fact remains that I think its a waste of my time and effort to cook for just one meal. I make a mimumum of two meals worth in quantity. So if I make palak paneer  (PP) for 2 meals for 2 people, he will eat one small serving of it and I am left with 3 servings to put into the fridge. Then ,if it’s a weekend , we might go out for a meal or two. Oh and then maybe Bandar will ask for something specific – very rarely happens,  and I will spend time and effort shopping, prepping to make it for her and then make enough for all of us too. I will just want to eat a salad or just drink a green smoothie for the next meal after a carb overload from Bandar’s ask. So PP gets pushed out from Saturday when it was made to maybe Wednesday night to be finished . Saturday we ate too little of it, Sunday we ate out, Monday we ate Idlis – courtesy Bandar’s ask, salad on Tuesday – PP still left over on Wednesday.

Meanwhile , just because I had some PP in the fridge I did not reduce my food shopping or prep for the week this weekend. So I have stuff prepped for Sambhar, alu masala made for masala dosas, all the kale and spinach washed, ready, bagged for smoothies, 2-3 interesting desi vegetables from the Indian store to try out and so on…A good amount of these will end up in the trash in 10 days from now.

I really need to get better organized. Maybe actually writing out the menu instead of thinking of it will help. Limiting myself to 2 veggies a week maybe at the grocery store  is another tip I read somewhere. But then I hate reading a recipe that I don’t have ingredients for and being unable to make it when inspiration hits. Guess one extra visit to the grocery store never killed anyone.

Fresh produce is the one that’s wasted the most of course. My pantry is bursting at the seams too but its stuff that spoils less frequently usually has every staple you can think of. Bajra flour, ragi flour – I have. 4 types of pasta – Orzo, Fusilli, Spaghetti, elbow macaroni – have it. A wide selection of ntus and dry fruit – Apricots, cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, Chia, Flax, Hemp. But of course aged ingredients turn rancid sometimes – case in point Walnuts and I had to trash them and it broke my thrifty heart. All this inventory also requires immense organization and shelving astuteness and despite having a spacious kitchen in this apartment I struggle with this.

So this weekend, I am going to turn over a new leaf – plan a menu, avoid even seeing a grocery store, organize my kitchen shelves and get ahead of this wanting-wasting game as best as I can.

How do you fare on this front? Would love to hear how you manage this aspect of your lives.

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37 Responses to “Want not , Waste not”

  1. princessbutter September 24, 2015 at 2:59 am #

    I write down 5 weekdays Ka meals. Smoothies and cooking wise. I go and buy exactly that. Like 5 bananas, 2 tomatoes, 3 brinjals etc. Lol
    I am alone so I make tiny meals now. Very rarely I will make 2-3 days Ka food at one go unless it’s the weekend and I want to cook elaborate. I too used to waste a lot before. But making shopping lists is a big help. The next option is either blending in a smoothie or a soup, or mix veg. Hehe

    • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      I need to start the list ya. Menu and list it is next week

  2. Ranjini September 24, 2015 at 3:03 am #

    You should give yourself credit for wanting to cook! I am an over enthusiastic grocery shopper too but not so much of a cook. It brakes my heart twice as much when I shop from whole foods and end up throwing that unopened rotting bag of rare veggie. My pregnancy has only made this habit of over shopping, worse.

    • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 11:02 am #

      Yes , feel awful throwing up whole foods produce and goods especially. But enjoy the pregnancy and don’t cook:) if you can get a cook to make some healthy meals definitely try that. We had a part time cook during my pregnancy and it was such a luxury. Also we are out a fair amount – think Bandar got a lot of falafel wraps and Thai food in the womb:) good luck with everything

  3. Ranjini September 24, 2015 at 3:05 am #

    Also, mind sharing an edible kale smoothie recipe? I have tried so many but dear lord, they always taste so bad. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong.

    • perspectivesandprejudices September 24, 2015 at 8:44 am #

      Try a cup of kale with oranges and a little milk or yogurt. It’s yummy! 🙂

      • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

        For smoothie or raw?

      • perspectivesandprejudices September 24, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

        I add it raw and make a smoothie out of it.

      • Ranjini September 25, 2015 at 8:05 am #

        Thank you so much! I’ll definitely try it this and let you know what I think. 😊

    • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 11:05 am #

      I can only eat Kale in smoothie form or Kale chips . Try kale , an Apple, frozen berries and water. I like this combo a lot. Sometimes I add carrots and cucumber peeled

    • princessbutter September 24, 2015 at 11:15 am #

      1 cup Kale+1 ripe banana+6 strawberries+ milk/almond milk. Substitute strawberries with quarter beet if you like it. My smoothie recipe for lunches.

      • Ranjini September 25, 2015 at 8:09 am #

        Thank you! I add spinach to all my smoothies but kale is a whole different story. I’m going to try it one last time. 😊 and, your blog name is funny, in a nice way. Princess butter.

      • popgoesthebiscuit September 25, 2015 at 8:20 am #

        Kale gets totally disguised with fruits . banana especially is quite good about masking it. I hate the taste of kale myself. But in smoothies and chips I am fine.

  4. srividhya September 24, 2015 at 3:16 am #

    This happens to me too yaar. Each and every week is different and it depends upon my work too. If need to go early or had to stay late things change. One thing that I do is if I buy greens I use them right away and I but lot of veggies but limited quantity. I am ok with my veggies. We need one dry curry even if we have yogurt rice for dinner. Me or M prepare it so veggies don’t go waste or I end up adding everything and make bisebelebath. Fruits are my major issue. If don’t make them as smoothie I end up thrashing them. Last week I got pears from Costco (??? dunno y) ate 2 or 3 and rest all went to thrash. Other pantry items it depends. You know what, I throwed 1/2 lb of wheat bran yesterday. I kept it for 1 year plus. Sighhhh.. I have decided not to buy any pantry items and fruits from costco for sure.

    • princessbutter September 24, 2015 at 3:36 am #

      Haha! Costco is a major offender in my food waste business. I have finally learnt that just because 5 lb is cheaper, it’s not worth it if 3 lb is gonna get trashed. But still guilty so many times.

      • srividhya September 24, 2015 at 4:52 am #

        he he true..Costco is the major culprit.. 😉

      • srividhya September 24, 2015 at 9:36 am #

        Pop.. don’t scold me.. 😉 😉 going off topic completely.
        Did you guys start game of thrones?

      • princessbutter September 24, 2015 at 11:17 am #

        I am waiting for the next season to start soon. It’s in April. 😓 Meanwhile lapping up EVERY news article on Jon Sno that I can.

      • srividhya September 24, 2015 at 11:35 am #

        I m in season 5 episode 3… I m controlling myself not to read but it’s hard man.. Jon snoooo..

      • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

        You guys are tempting me to start asap now. Only the fear of extreme violence is keeping me away.

      • princessbutter September 24, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

        Finish finish!! Haha

      • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

        I still haven’t started V! Now I am wondering if I will like it. I am not into gore at all. And have heard it’s fairly violent? Plus never even started book

      • princessbutter September 24, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

        The gore is there but everything is so insanely awesome!

    • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

      Can’t believe you also end up with waste, Vidhya! Costco membership is so tempting but not taking it for this very reason

      • srividhya September 25, 2015 at 2:34 am #

        he he yeah P. When I every I but more especially fruits it goes waste only.
        Between I agree with PB.. give it a shot. You don’t need to read book and all.

  5. Monkey Mind September 24, 2015 at 7:50 am #

    I used to be a major food waster when we were in Bangalore, but ever since we moved to the US and are on a student budget, I have changed a new leaf! I write down our fridge staples like mushroom, tofu, peppers, broccoli, beans etc and buy those. Rest I buy as per my weekly plan only. And in case it looks like I won’t be using that veggie for this week, then I immediately freeze it and use it the next week.
    Coming to weekly plans I have the same issue you do. I get bouts of inspiration from blogs or pinterest and then keep changing meal plans. And I totally get it about feeling bugged when we read a recipe and find one ingredient missing. Very annoying! So now I plan it flexible like 2 dals, two pasta dishes, two mixed rice with curry dish this week sort. So I mix match the available veggies and add to the dishes. This has greatly reduced wastage (almost zero) and we eat nutritious food too! Win – win on student budget for foodies 🙂

    • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      Interesting about a flex menu. Such a great idea. Do you freeze the veggie cut? Or cooked? Not everything freezes well right?

      • Monkey Mind September 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

        Yep, I can new varieties of the dish on the flex menu. So it keeps my creative mind happy too.

        Most veggies freeze really well. I read extensively about freezing at home and then followed the procedure listed there- that helped and I get fresh veggies out of freezer. For beans, I usually trim them,then blanch it in hot water for 2-3 minutes, allow it to cool, and put into Ziploc bags. I follow the same for broccoli. They last ages and serve as emergency veggies when we miss our weekly grocery schedule too.

      • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

        Wow..nice. Have read about blanching too but never done it. V impressed that you have figured this out. Your student budget comment took me back years to my own experience and made me smile. Enjoy this phase with the limited budget and thrills it brings.

  6. perspectivesandprejudices September 24, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    So *bragging alert here* one of the things that I’m most proud of is the fact that there’s almost zero wastage at my house 🙂 couple of tricks I figured out.
    I don’t buy more than 3-4 veggies at a time. And when I do go veggie shopping, I plan depending on the perishability. So if I buy a bag of something that spoils quickly (leafy greens, for eg) I pair that with something that will last longer in the fridge. Like cauliflower or cabbage. Cook the perishable stuff first and the others later in the week.
    I also usually plan meals based on what I have at home. If I see a recipe I love, I usually go and buy veggies after making plans to cook it.
    But probably the most important change I made was to buy fridge bags. Netted cloth storage bags specifically for storing vegetables. My mom always used them and I found them at a grocery store here and picked up a dozen. I transfer all vegetables and fruit to it before putting it in the fridge and it keeps food fresh much much longer!

  7. Bhavani September 24, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    Are you sure you did not write about me. I am exactly like you!! Fresh veggies tempt me like crazy and end up buying more than required. Try my best but things to get into the trash. And same pinch on the quantity. I cannot stick to making a curry just for that evening. Most times we finish off for lunch next day. But times when we go out etc that’s it will be in the fridge I lose interest. Hope I get better at managing this.

    And my pantry is always brimming and not sure why end up buying on top of that.

    Sigh!

    Bhavani

    • popgoesthebiscuit September 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

      Hope the tips others have shared help you too, B. We are over enthusiastic planners looks like. I get such a high from a farmer’s market run . I try my best too to utilize everything but the fact is we can’t eat as much as we buy. Plus we go out at least once a week. Think we just have to buy less. Only way out.

  8. Zarine Mohideen September 26, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    I’ve realized that planning for the week and creating a shopping list really helps me cut down on the excess groceries a lot! I don’t plan very rigidly for the week, will leave some leeway for eating out, etc. But planning for at least a few days and sticking to it helps. Also I buy one item off the list per week. So if it’s fruits I don’t but like four different kinds. I try to stick to two in limited quantity and I make sure to finish it off.

    Of course most times it doesn’t go exactly according to plan but the lists are a lifesaver. Also, when it comes to nuts I’ve realized they do go bad pretty quickly. So I buy smaller quantities to ensure freshness. I always have some cashews and raisins on hand but alternate between pecans, walnuts, etc. Buying a variety of items is such a failure for me because the vanity of buying it supersedes consuming it!

  9. Uma September 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    I used to waste too but wouldnt like to plan ahead as I used to feel it takes away the excitement of spontaniety and is like a fixed hostel menu. Husband is like the Don character from Rosie Project(if u hav read the book), extremely organized and wants to plan everything types. Anyway have you come across the 21daymeal fix plans. I dont follow it rigidly. I sort of plan for a few salads during the week and easy to cook or eat raw type veggies like zuchini and squash. I cook quiona or kus kus ahead of time and then prep the salads easily. I also freeze boiled chole, rajma and other beans etc. So it is easy to come up with with a meal. Basically checking your fridge before you go out to shop really helps.

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