This morning I stumbled upon an article from one of my favorite bloggers and influencers, Trash is for Tossers. Lauren Singer is an activist working towards a more sustainable, waste-free future. She published this article about cooking with kitchen scraps, which not only reduces food waste, but also can help save money. Not to mention, cooking for one is more difficult than cooking for many, and if you’re anything like me you make all your meals at home. You’re often left with leftovers that sometimes you don’t want to eat, or fruit that you can’t seem to enjoy quickly enough.
In my first effort to use what I have and waste not, I decided to try out the second tip on Lauren’s list, “use greens like herbs.” When I went home, my mom graciously paid for my groceries (thanks, mom). This was on September 15, it is now September 25 and I’m still going strong on the basics I had and her contributions. She bought me this big bulb of fennel with beautiful mint green stalks. The bulb sat in my fridge untouched until now. I thought about how much the bulb cost by weight and I thought about how it would both waste money and food if I threw out the stalks and delicate dill-like leaves.
I decided to make fennel pesto. In a blender (which was not the most effective tool) I combined the leafy bits, four cloves of garlic, a hunk of pecorino and olive oil. I let it go for a bit, scraping down as necessary until it was some-what saucy. While I wouldn’t put it on pasta, I would definitely use it as a condiment or marinade, which brings me to my next point.
While at the grocery store I also bought some meat because it was on sale and it can last a long time if packaged and kept in the freezer. However, I always convince myself that I’ll freeze something and then I never unearth it from the cold for months because I just forget. Instead of buying more food and contributing more waste, I’m checking my freezer regularly to see what I have before making more unnecessary purchases. I have some pork chops that would go nicely with a fennel marinade. I recall during my Italian cooking class my professor mentioned the sweet harmony between pork and fennel. Plus, I can roast the stalks and an onion and make a very fragrant one pan meal.
While I bemoan leftovers, it makes lunch quite easy. The microwave at work makes leftovers basically only edible at work since I myself don’t have a microwave at home. Additionally, when I forget lunch it comes with a price. Lunch places nearby tend to be on the pricy side, and for good reason. They’re all delicious, but it just doesn’t make sense when I can bring food from home.
While some items definitely have to become waste (egg shells) some don’t have to be (“discarded greens”). Inedible vegetable sections can be used to flavor stock. Overripe fruit can be boiled and turned into compote. There are a million creative ways to transform “garbage.”
Additionally, I could be better about what I buy when I go shopping. From this point on I’m writing down items that I finished completely (1 loaf of bread stored in the freezer until needed, 1 bunch of radishes, 3 apples, you get the idea). This will reference the portion that I should buy instead of what I used to buy or might be tempted to buy. This opened my eyes to the wasteful ways of the grocery store: massive bags of kale and lettuce line the shelves and while the plastic bag is waste enough, one person could never eat that amount before the leaves turn.
Stay tuned for more “waste not” stories. I’ll be using articles like this to guide me so send me suggestions. I hope to document how much waste I reduce and how much money I spend on each grocery trip. Plus, maybe a recipe or two will come out.