Category Archives: Cultural Shift

Food & Waste: Week of 5/25/20

Monday’s data is repeated from last week’s post. Because of the holiday, it felt more like Sunday!

I’ve decided I need to really push using up the leftovers and stop being so lazy. I do pretty well, but could do better.

Monday: DH needs to bake bread. We need to use up mozzarella, a chicken thigh, and veggies. Cheese sauce? Lasagna? (No noodles.) Salad with cheese and chicken, like a chef’s salad? We have salami in the freezer still I think? (Maybe.) I’ll look and see what we’ve got. A salad for lunch would work too. We’re busy working on our bedroom revision, so something that isn’t involved sounds good!

I had the last of the skillet dinner from Saturday for lunch, not sure what DH had.

We both must have been wanting more sweets, DH made tapioca and I made a mug cake from this recipe. I had a hard time finding one that didn’t use chocolate chips, which I don’t have and only used cocoa, which I do!

We used the 2nd loaf’s dough for a pizza. We had white pizza for dinner, the last chicken thigh from Sunday, onion, and the mozzarella.

Tuesday: I looked for baked apple french toast recipes. What I found, here, uses more of everything and alcohol, than I wanted to use. I wanted to use the end of the last loaf, french toast dregs from the freezer, and the oldest 3 apples.

I couldn’t find the “french toast dregs” container in the freezer. When we make french toast, there’s usually enough batter left for 1-2 pieces of bread, so I freeze it and use it later.

I also intended to use the end of the last loaf, but DH must have had it for toast, only the heel remained, so I got 4 slices from the new loaf and added the heel to the “old bread” container in the freezer.*

I made a batter of 1 egg and a little milk, cinnamon and nutmeg and started the bread soaking.

I sliced, but didn’t peel, 3 small sweet apples, the end of the macouns, used for the pink applesauce last week. I added a few raisins and cooked them briefly with a pat of butter.

I greased a small rectangular Pyrex pan with an old butter wrapper (from the freezer) and put the soaked bread in the Pyrex, poured over it the remaining batter, and then topped it with the partially cooked apples and raisins. This was put in the oven, covered with foil,  at 350. When the house starts smelling of apples or cooked eggs, I’ll check on it. It’s 10 a.m. as I type this.

It took about 1/2 hour until I pulled the foil off. I could tell the eggs/milk had all cooked. I turned off the oven, and turned on the broiler and briefly put the uncovered dish under that to brown the top slightly. What’s French toast without brown crusty bits?

We had pasta with breadcrumbs for lunch. It really needs something juicy on the side, sliced tomatoes would be excellent, if I’d had any!

We had salad and sausages for dinner with jarred and green salad.

Food Waste

*I need to make bread pudding, croutons, or bread crumbs soon, the old bread container is nearly full! Maybe pasta with bread crumbs? I make one like this. Good with salad for lunch! (Except of course I do NOT make that much. I use about 1/4th pound of pasta per meal, for 2 of us, instead of the pound used in the recipe. My breadcrumbs are made in advance. Adjust accordingly! Also, I don’t use lemon zest or fennel seeds.)

The chicken scrap bin is also nearly full, I need to make chicken stock! Considering it’s supposed to be 90 at least one day this week,  that’s a night-time project, rather than a day-time one!

WASTED: Two partial packages, darn it! The last of the lentils & onions had started to smell “off.” I’d unfrozen, but we hadn’t finished, a container of garbanzo chili (it was too spicy).

Wednesday: No breakfast or cooked lunch here today. It’s hot and we have a major moving around we’re doing. Also, someone is coming tomorrow and what they’re doing requires moving things around beforehand too.

I just figured out dinner: asparagus vinegarette ,white mac/cheese, salad and smoothies. The mac and cheese is another box of Annie’s. I’ll add some cheese, etc. to it like last time, but it can be served cold, which is a blessing! Also, the end of the last batch of jarred salad, the end of last week’s greens, and fruit smoothies. It will be a bit of a hodge podge, but it will be easy to make and except for the mac and cheese, no cooking, a plus with it 90 outside! Except we only had smoothies…

Thursday: This is farm day. Next week is the last of the greens from the first farm. The second farm shares also starts next week. I only signed up for a 1/2 share, so I’m going to skip the first week there and give us a chance to eat the last of the greens and clean the freezer, before the main season begins.

I went to the farm and did regular grocery shopping. O I also went to the small green market, got ice cream  and finally found wild rice in their bulk bin. Used up the last of what I had early in the Pandemic lock down and hadn’t found any since. I only use a small jar every year or so, but I like to have about a cup on hand. It’s a nicely meaty grain, gives the impression of eating meat when you haven’t. It’s expensive, but as I said, I don’t use a lot of it.

We wanted “instant” dinner because I was gone most of the afternoon, we had green salad with red pepper strips and store bought ravioli.

I wanted breakfast, again. This time I made what is called an “Apple Johnnycake.” It’s cornbread with apples. At the moment, it’s still baking, so we’ll see.

I got the recipe from Cooking Inn Style by Leichter-Saxby, Grosvenor Square Associates, 1983. It uses cornmeal, water, baking soda, eggs, butter, apples, salt, honey and buttermilk.

I cooked it as long as it indicates in the recipe, it was a wonderful golden brown on top, but still liquid in the middle. So it ended up I cooked it almost 2x what was in the recipe!

We had salad for lunch and one of us put carnitas on theirs.

Friday: I’m making my usual summer cold soup: avocados and spinach. Love the stuff. We had it with green salad topped with carnitas.

(I’ll update the expensive meat figure.)

Saturday: We had salad for dinner, with both of us eating the very last of the carnitas on them.

Sunday: We had salad and the 2nd bag of ravioli, again. (It’s hot!) We had the pasta with fresh grated Parmesan and we did our own vinegarette dressing (I use champagne vinegar with tarragon, DH uses basalmic).

One Pound of Chicken Thighs…

I usually buy organic chicken thighs, bulk pack, in 5 lb packages. I split this into packages of 3 each, about 1 lb.

I just used the last 1 lb package. I thought I’d use this to figure out how well I did with  the meat cost per meal. I did pretty well, but not what I need to!

Day 1: Lemon chicken 3 thighs, all cooked (part of the oven meal). We ate 2. I put aside the drippings and 3rd thigh.

Day 2: I made a burrito bowl (this one). Except I never use instant rice, I just cook rice separately. I also can’t eat roma tomatoes, so I pay for heirloom non-red tomatoes and use about 1/2-1 tomato’s worth. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s better than having an upset stomach for hours!

Day 3: Picked the meat off the last thigh. Made gravy from the drippings. We had left over rice (the burrito bowl)  with a little of the chicken/gravy on it and sauteed greens on the side.

Day 4: Chicken and rice soup. Took the remaining gravy with chicken, added water, the last of the tomato, and chicken bullion to taste. Added the remaining rice. Made up a condiment plate with cooked greens and minced jalapeno.

Into the freezer: 1 serving of the soup. I added the last 2-3 tablespoons of cooked greens and the minced jalapeno.

The chicken costs $2.49/lb. How much did I spend per meal for the meat?*

I put it in 6 meals. If we eat the last serving in the freezer? The price is .36/meal.  If we don’t eat it, but toss it? The price per meal goes up to about .42!

How could I have done better? I could have saved the bones, skins and scraps to add flavor to another soup or stew or just make broth. If you add just one more meal that way, the cost per meal for the meat goes down to .31!

As a list:

  • 3 meals if we’d eaten all of it as one-piece of meat per serving: .83/meal. (We didn’t do this.)
  • 6 meals, cost per meal =.42, (We did this.)
  • If we eat the last meal in the freezer, the cost per meal is reduced to .36 (We’ve done this.)
  • If we eat the freezer meal and I’d used the scraps? Price per meal would have been = .31

Obviously, I need to start a container for soup scraps! Otherwise, I’m never going to get even close to my desired .25 cost/meat per meal.

*These numbers are rounded. $2.49 just doesn’t divide evenly!

To get to my target price, I’d have to make approx. 11 portions from my 1 lb of meat. I don’t think that’s very likely, do you? And, since I know the $2.49/lb price is a real bargain, I think this means I need a reality check! As it is, we ate, on average about 2.29 oz of meat in each of the 7 meals.

So, unless we start raising our own chickens or something similar, I think that the best I can realistically expect is the price for the 6 meals above, or .42 per portion.

My idea was that the meat would probably be the single most expensive piece of a meal, budget that hard and the rest of it’s not so bad.

Eggs are one of the cheapest sources of protein around. If we eat them, we sometimes have 3 or sometimes 4 omlette, for a single meal, which feeds both of us. I buy eggs from a neighbor for $3/dozen these days. A four-egg omlette costs .50/person. A three-egg omlette .38/person.

Organic ground beef from the local market costs $8.99/lb. I’d have to make > 20 meals to get that down to .40 or less per person. Again, not realistic. Even if I allow myself $1/lb, it’s 9 meals from a single pound of ground beef — really? One meatball, right?

My menu plan only has meat in it two days a week. The plan is:

      • Monday Double Veg meal
      • Tuesday Leftovers
      • Wednesday Double Veg meal
      • Thursday Eggs
      • Friday Double Meat meal
      • Saturday Sandwiches
      • Sunday Double Meat meal

When I came up with this, I was trying for a few things: less meat, less cost, less cholesterol, more veggies, less work on the days I’m really busy (Weds, Sat, Sun).

My week hasn’t followed the pattern this week because we were eating the 2nd meat/leftovers, until Tuesday. Ate veggies Weds. and will tonight, Thursday, too.

The double veggies I made are some of the end of last year’s farm crops (root veggies), some I bought at the market when we ran out (cilantro, potatoes & parsnips), and rice (when I made the burrito bowl last week, I made a double batch of plain rice and froze the extra).

I have no idea how to figure, with any kind of accuracy, the six month’s worth of veggies we got from the farm and how many meals it went into! Some of it is in 1/2 made dishes in the freezer, some of it is in the pantry, but most of it was eaten fresh.