Category Archives: Goldilocks Dilemma

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).

Links Round Up: Jan – Mar

I went back through my posts since the beginning of the year. It seems I’m doing a lot of research and including links in my posts. All of the blog posts or links I’ve pinged back or linked to are given below.

January: None.

February:

March:

 

Finding the Cheat

See the previous post if you’re not sure what I’m talking about!

Here’s how I found all those “cheats” to use fewer supplies, whether they be lightbulbs, potting soil, toothpaste or frozen food.

What do you do automatically? If you become more aware of those choices, then you can try and change them. My frugal strategies apply:

  • Find a cheaper substitute.
  • Spend less for the same product.
  • Do without.

Figure out what you do automatically: How much oil or fat do you put in a pan — can you use less? Can you use a cheaper oil and have it work as well? Substituting margarine for butter in baked goods doesn’t work in my opinion. For me, it seems to be how much the fat determines the taste of the dish. YMMV!  How do you decide how much TP to use at once? Try delaminating 2-ply and see if it won’t cause you to use less? Worked for me! Pizza toppings: If you love a certain frozen pizza, but hate one topping (or your kid does) and automatically toss it? Can you find a way to use the tossed food? I’m not talking about allergies, of course you shouldn’t keep foods you or yours are allergic to, but preferences. You could use frozen bits of onion or peppers in soups or meatloaf, for example. Sausage pieces could be used in scrambled eggs.

Pay attention to your automatic behavior and the waste it causes. Then try to use what you’ve wasted before.

Use the internet or other resources to help: Try different routes on googlemaps is there a shorter route? Use gasbuddy to find the cheapest gas locally. Find new ways to use up leftovers. Try to make your own foods: bake bread, grow herbs, make gravy.

“If I was broke, what would I do differently?” Many times this shows me what I’m wasting or suggests ideas. I made sauted greens last night for dinner. I took the stems off because DH hates “stringy” greens. Instead of tossing them, I put them in the freezer for smoothies or to be added to soup.

Ask a pro! People who do things for work quickly find the easiest and fastest way to do things. They frequently know the cheapest way too. I found out about the shampoo concentrates at beauty supply shops by asking a hair stylist where the salon bought their shampoo? Another example: my dad, when looking for a new home refrigerator went to the biology department at the college where he worked and asked which refrigerator they’d recommend?

If this works with one thing in 5, it still counts! The idea that it has to save dollars right away or it doesn’t count is EXPENSIVE!

Every little cost-savings idea you use counts.

Each dollar is

100 pennies after all!

 

 

The 3 Strategies to Save Money: #3 Doing Without (& the Cheat for Supplies)

Remember my rant about saving money, here? I use my 3 money-saving strategies all the time. The third strategy is: do without.

Except, that there is a cheat for this strategy: you can use less instead. So, reusing coffee grounds fits if you do 1/2 reused and 1/2 new. I use the cheat a lot with many supplies:

  • With creme rinse (used as a detangler) a bottle lasts 2-3 years!
  • With our dinner napkins. We use linen ones I inherited as our everyday. If they aren’t stained, rather than washing them after every  meal, we use them twice and then wash them.
  • We feed our cats dry food during the day and only give them canned food at dinner. With the small cans, I was splitting it between the two cats. Then I started buying bigger cans so each cat gets 1/4 can. I store fewer cans, the cost per meal is less, and we generate less waste — all good!
  • I use my powered toothbrushes longer than the 90 days specified.
  • I drink coffee with about 1/2 a cup of milk. Milk is cheaper than coffee most of the time. I get my 3 cups of “coffee” and actually ingest a lot less caffeine and spend less too!
  • We mix expensive types cat litters with cheap ones.
  • We used to go to the dump 2-3 times a week, now we go only once. We use fewer trash bags, less gas and wear and tear on the car.
  • We figured out how to use the twigs the trees drop as kindling. Cheaper than fatwood or splitting firewood as it’s free.
  • I use the lunch bags and stems from drying herbs as fire starters. I also have used old newspapers and TP or paper towel cores.
  • I open the blinds in our bathroom and living room first thing in the morning instead of turning on lights. The sunlight is bright enough that I can see where I’m going. Want to read or do something needing more light? Turn on a light.
  • I use cold water to soap dishes or my hands while waiting for warm water. Then, rinse with warm or hot water as needed.
  • My window washing spray isn’t in a spray bottle! I use a combination of dish soap, water, and a little ammonia. I use two rags and a lot less cleaner than I was originally taught.
  • I use about 1/4″ toothpaste and a tiny amount of mouthwash. The rest of the time I’m brushing? I use water.
  • I wash my hair once weekly, instead of daily, like I used to. If we still lived in Florida or the desert, as we did, this wouldn’t have changed, probably. YMMV!
  • I use as many solid  or dry soaps, etc. as possible, esp. if I’m going to use them WITH water: shampoo, creme rinse, laundry detergent, etc.
  • I cut bar soap into pieces before I use it and allow it to air dry as long as  possible, so that it’s as dry as it can be.
  • I’ve been known to delaminate 2-ply toilet paper. I discovered long ago that the amount I want I judge by hand. Delaminating it uses less because my hand feels “full” sooner.
  • I’ve used cornmeal for facial scrub (get it damp with water to a paste, spread it over your face. Stand over a large bowl of clean water and rinse. The cornmeal wants to clog up drains, so do it outside or over a bowl.
  • If you don’t mind perfumes (I’m allergic.) or “aromatherapy,” buy shampoo concentrates instead of diluted shampoo and mix your own. The concentrates are available at beauty supply shops, usually in gallon containers.
  • Buy unscented products and share with your partner rather than having products for each of you.
  • Put a square of chamois next to your bathroom sink and shine the chrome as you go. No fancy cleaners needed.

Goldilocks Dilemma: Clothing

Remember the French Dressing post, here? I decided I was going to reduce my clothing to a capsule wardrobe of 10 items per season, not counting underwear and outerwear.

It occurred to me the other day that I basically have reduced my day-to-day clothing use to a capsule, without thinking about it!

I have a basket which lives in our bathroom on a shelf. It contains the set of clothes I’m not wearing. At home, without company, I wear pj pants and a long-sleeved shirt, cheap plastic socks. When I go out I wear a tank top, a long-sleeved shirt, long johns or leggings (when it’s cold), jeans, and washable wool socks.  During summer I’ll wear the leggings or the jeans but not both.

(I also wear sweaters.)

Company/going out rotation:

  • ? long-sleeved shirts
  • ? tank tops
  • 1 long john top
  •  2 long john pants
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 4 pairs of leggings
  • ? washable wool socks.

No company/staying home rotation:

  • ? long-sleeved shirts
  • ? tank tops
  • 1 long john top
  •  2 long john pants
  • 3 pairs of PJ pants
  • 4 pairs o leggings
  • 6 pairs of cozy socks.

When I get home I undress in the bathroom, examining clothes as I remove them. If they can be reused? They’re rolled up and put into the bathroom basket. If dirty, they go into the laundry. I then put on the clothes in the basket and supplement, as needed, from dresser and closet.

This means that the only day-to-day clothes in my closet should be: the unworn long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and out of season/special event clothing. The clothes in my drawers should be unworn tank tops, leggings/long johns, and pants.


Given this, culling my clothes should be simple! I really like the feel and “flow” of this system. It evolved over time and works for me. YMMV.


Six shirts culled! 10:54 a.m. 3 more 11:12 a.m. 1 more 11:32

 

Goldilocks Dilemma: Supplies, part 2

Given what I know about supplies, how do I determine how much space is needed?


These factors affect supply storage: use rate, back stock needs, available space.


Once I know the use rate, I can determine reasonable back stock. For example, we use about 3/4 of a roll of paper towels a week, mostly to deal with pan grease. Having a 2 week supply seems reasonable. That means I need a back stock of 1 roll. But my usual source for these sells them in 4 roll (or bigger) packages.  I need to decide if having 3 rolls in storage makes sense? If it does, then the back stock amount/space for 1 roll won’t work, obviously.

It seems I need TWO types of back stock storage: immediate and a supply closet or shelf. Immediate storage near where the product is used, an extra bar of soap under the sink, for example. But if I buy a 6 bar bundle, most of those should go somewhere else, like a supply closet.

I don’t have a supply closet right now… soon! One planned summer improvement is for DH to build a broom closet. When he does, the wardrobe that’s our current broom closet will be empty. 

There’s space available elsewhere, I’ll use that until the wardrobe is empty.

My minimum for the shelf-stable supplies we use the most often? One complete refresh. I have that. It isn’t what I’d like because it isn’t the most frugal option, but given that I have nowhere to store a large back stock? It makes sense.


“When you keep an account of your stores, and the dates when they are bought, you can know exactly how fast they are used…”

Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book, 3rd ed.,1856

Goldilocks Dilemma: Durable Goods (Spreadsheet)

The questions of Just Right? Not Enough? Too Much? for Durable Goods is easier than that for supplies. (Not sure why I said that? See here.)

From an hour’s worth of work, I concluded that storage limits are a major determinate for me — every item I considered it was an issue.

  • So, imposing a SPACE BUDGET should always be my first step when considering an item to keep, cull or purchase. The next consideration is whether or not what I’m considering is a durable item or a supply item?

(A SPACE BUDGET is a given amount of space allocated for a certain item.)

Here’s the spreadsheet I created for Durable Goods;

Storage Limits?

Used all at once?

Perishable?

Lifecycle/ use rate?

Costly?

Fixable?

Used inside, outside, car?

Special storage?

Dry?

Semi- liquid?

Liquid?

Artwork: wall

yes

yes

no

3 years or more

can be

maybe

inside

no

y

n

n

Artwork: sculpture 

yes

yes

no

3 years or more

can be

maybe

inside

no

y

n

n

Artwork:  other

yes

yes

not likely

unknown

can be

maybe

depends on piece

likely not

?

?

?

Books

yes

yes

no

3 years or more

can be

maybe

inside

no

y

n

n

Clothing

yes, closets for those hung

yes

no

1 year or more

no

yes

inside

no

y

n

n

yes, dressers for those folded

yes

no

1 year or more

no

yes

inside

no

y

n

n

Computers

yes

yes

no

3 years or mroe

can be

maybe

inside most often

no

y

n

n

Dishes

yes

yes

no

3 years or more

can be

maybe

inside

no

y

n

n

Furniture

yes, piece must fit in the room it’s for

yes

no

5 years or more

can be

yes

inside

no

y

n

n

Linens

yes

yes

no

3 years or more

can be

yes

inside

no

y

n

n

Pots & Pans

yes

yes

no

3 years or more

can be

maybe

inside

no

y

n

n

Phones

yes

yes

no

3 years?

can be

maybe

inside most often

case

y

n

n

Obviously, this isn’t complete, but you get the idea!