A no waste meal plan - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 07-20-2011, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok. A very, very short back story.

 

I *know* how to be frugal. I really do. When I was working part time (as opposed to full time) I did a great job making everything from scratch, stockpiling in my pantry and eating all the food, meat, grains, fruits and veggies that I bought before they went bad. Enter full time work and DH working OVER full time (to pull us out of debt - I'll continue to work full time after we are out of debt because I'm the main breadwinner) and thus having no idea of what days he'll eat at home - or not - and I'm doing terrible.

 

I still make most everything from scratch (ok, breads made from a baking mix, but I only bake bread once a month or so because we eat very limited grains) - crackers, etc. I buy bottles of sauce (salsa, teriyaki, etc) and generally purchase large quantities of stuff. I buy lots of fruit and veggies from costco (6 packs of red bell peppers, frozen green beans, fresh broccoli, etc). And then I let it go bad.

 

We're a gluten free, pretty much grain free  house.

 

Give me ideas on meal planning - again - and help me get my mojo back, let me see your brilliance, give me inspiration so I can get back on track. I want to eat good food and I want to not waste. Especially as I sat down last night and wrote the budget out. It's scary!


~ Kim

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#2 of 11 Old 07-20-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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Thanks for asking this.  I am tanking since I went back to work full time.  I am starting by just planning lunches and menus and sticking to them.  Once I am in the habit of that I am going to move to a  more frugal menu.  But yeah, I get my produce at sams club and then do not get it eaten. I get meat for cheap at work and don't get around to cooking it.    And yeah it is cheap but it is still money.

 

 


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#3 of 11 Old 07-20-2011, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Whoo - hoo - I"m so glad I'm not the only one!

 

I love the idea of meal planning and actually sticking to it. I've been thinking about my problem (never knowing if DH is going to eat at home or not) and I think I will start putting his portion of the dish (normally 2 days worth of food because I make enough for leftovers) and freeze it. I don't want to eat the same thing 3-4 days in a row, which is why things have been going bad. This way though, I'll have food in the freezer and everything stocked. Not perfect but it's a start!


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#4 of 11 Old 07-20-2011, 05:21 PM
 
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I was just going to suggest freezing portions! You could also cut up & freeze produce that would otherwise go bad -- just keep an eye on things so you know when to throw it in the freezer. I'd also suggest buying some frozen produce in place of some fresh items you tend to not use in time.

Also, be realistic about what you'll eat in a week. Sometimes I get excited and motivated and buy way more than we need. We try to stockpile on things that won't go bad -- canned/dry goods -- and moderate the fresh/perishable purchases. At this point, I'm under-buying perishables a bit, and turning to the freezer (or making a 5-minute stop at the store on the way buy) when I've run out of fresh stuff. You could also consider splitting some of the large quantities with a friend or neighbor.

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#5 of 11 Old 07-21-2011, 11:12 AM
 
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I meal plan suppers only during the week and lunches and suppers for the weekend. I leave at least 3 meals blank throughout the week so that we have a built in day to help use up leftovers and we eat leftovers for lunch.

 

What also makes a difference for us is to package things as a serving size and stick it in the freezer if at all possible. I also double recipes and stick one directly into the freezer to use up at a later date or pull out on a night we didn't have anything planned but have no leftovers in the fridge.

 

Veggies and fruits are so much harder for me to use wisely. We buy a lot more than we used to since DS started on table food and I'm not great at estimating how much we'll really go through. DH is not a fan of any soups/stews/casseroles/egg dishes so I am very limited in last minute ways to use up veggies.


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#6 of 11 Old 07-21-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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Oh one thing you can do with veggies is roast them in the oven & then refrigerate to use in another dish or freeze for later use.

You can make an applesauce (or pear sauce or berry sauce or mixed fruit sauce) with leftover fruit...

You can freeze the fruit raw to use in smoothies...

You can puree veggies and add them to breads, sauces, etc...

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#7 of 11 Old 07-21-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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When I saw this thread title - I thought "YES" someone else who feels like they are throwing out plates of food which my family has just picked at for dinner. disappointed.gif

 

Now reading the OP - I see I'm a bit off  lol.gif, but I'll stick around to see what anyone has a suggestion for my dilemma.  lurk.gif

 

As for no waste - lots of our dinners, end up as my lunches during the week to take to work.  It does get a bit boring to have the same thing for 4 days in a row, but I try to add variety with a salad or fruits too.  Also like Kanga1622 posted - each week we have mustgo night to take care of the leftovers lurking in the back of the fridge.

 

 


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#8 of 11 Old 07-21-2011, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _ktg_ View Post

When I saw this thread title - I thought "YES" someone else who feels like they are throwing out plates of food which my family has just picked at for dinner. disappointed.gif

 

 

 


My best solution to the quoted part was to literally dish out a bite or two to the kids and let them ask for more if they needed it.  That way, nearly all uneaten food could be saved for later rather than tossed.

 

To the OP, when the veggies start to look unappealing, I make veggie broth and freeze that.  I must say I like my homemade veggie stock/broth better than any chicken or veggie canned broth!

 

Amy

 

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#9 of 11 Old 07-21-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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ooh great ideas! (I'm gonna ramble here) Yep, I have some fusili pasta, jicama, and chicken quarters that should only wait a max of three more days in the fridge, and a few really busy days ahead!! Also some mango that's in the fridge because it is totally ready. I have struggled with this off and on, and as much as it might motivate us to reduce food waste, a tight budget does not make it easier (more scrambling to buy things that are a good value, possibly just not even being able to buy a key ingredient for a meal even after others have been purchased :(, etc., and in my case, I'm working more hours)! It's like I have completely forgotten some of my favorite things to make, but I'm sure I will rediscover good stews and hot meals this fall. Anyway, right now it's all about what's fresh and in season, prep consists of cutting and perhaps arranging :P LOVE the idea of freezing fruit, crunchy_mommy, even though I don't have a smoothie machine or blender I think I will freeze some mango this week because two was too many for my daughter and I, lol. I'm learning that once a week is even a little too frequent to buy meat for us. Certain aspects of our weekly routine have settled since our recent move, but shopping trips haven't become totally regular yet, since we get different things from a few different places in the area. Also for half the meals throughout the week I'm by myself so it's just better to have stable snacky things, when working a lot I kinda live on almonds, cheese, fruit, and tortilla chips, lol. They're not the thriftiest thing but I love a good cold cut & sliced cheese sandwich on hearty bread. Lately I have fallen back on pasta as something that is easy to portion and the rest keeps, but of course the bag of fancy (and super fast-cooking) refrigerated fusilli I got the other day was too much for our supersmall family! I could throw that in the freezer, tho. Or make it again tomorrow, in a sauce that goes with the chicken! mmmm.... sometimes you really only have to put a little bit of thought into it before a good solution presents itself. Other times, we have mismatched meals :P

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#10 of 11 Old 07-22-2011, 08:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captivatedlife View Post

I still make most everything from scratch (ok, breads made from a baking mix, but I only bake bread once a month or so because we eat very limited grains) - crackers, etc. I buy bottles of sauce (salsa, teriyaki, etc) and generally purchase large quantities of stuff. I buy lots of fruit and veggies from costco (6 packs of red bell peppers, frozen green beans, fresh broccoli, etc). And then I let it go bad.

 

We're a gluten free, pretty much grain free  house.


I'm going back to your OP - and I think (if it is possible, because I work FT during the week and I know weekend time is precious!!!) when you are buying the fresh produce to prepare some easy meals, and dedicate that weekend to a cooking weekend and feed your freezer.

 

For instance -

  • Asparagus (DH loves it and I'm hard pressed to find a green veg he loves).  Take 1/2 of the bag and make a quiche or frittata with ham & swiss - bake it and then freeze for later in the month.  Use the other 1/2 for a side - steamed or sauteed.
  • 6 pack of bell peppers - make a chili (freeze it or can it), roast 1 in the oven and make some salsa (fridge) or throw into a speghetti sauce, stuffed peppers (just make the mix & stuff 'em then freeze 'em - though I have not tried this because I'm not a fan of stuffed peppers in the house), cut up 1x week for dipping in hummus, or tuna or chicken salad
  • Giant bag of Broccoli - beef & broccoli stir fry, yummy summer broccoli salad (bacon, cheese, broc, red onion & raisins!) Or even better - they have frozen organic broc which is packaged in 4x1 lb bags!  I chose this option after I had a bit of broc continue to go bad on me.
  • Avocados - lots of guacamole, or a yummy sliced snack or a side if you are having grilled steak eat.gif.
  • Mangoes - ours come in a box of 8 - so we have to limit to only having 2 mangoes per week as a snack 
     

 


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#11 of 11 Old 07-23-2011, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _ktg_ View Post

When I saw this thread title - I thought "YES" someone else who feels like they are throwing out plates of food which my family has just picked at for dinner. disappointed.gif

 


Isn't it funny how we all have our own little food issues that drive us crazy! When dd was little we did the whole, dish out a bite or 2 and have her finish that before we gave her more. We also made a point that we don't do seconds on anything unless 1. she has finished everything on her plate or 2. it is seconds time (which means that another person or 2 at the table has finished all their food and is going back for seconds). I did this with my preschoolers also - if they had to wait to get their favorite food again, they were more likely to try the other food on their plate. It cut down a ton on waste with my preschoolers - and if they really didn't like something, all they had to do was wait a few minutes and they didn't have to eat it. Great compromise!

 

*******

 

So, it's amazing how money plays into this issue. Due to a series of circumstances (dh's car broke down, I broke a tooth (again this summer - stress is killing me)) we are going to have limited money this coming month. I took a good chunk out of the food budget for August. You should have seen me yesterday - freezing roasted red peppers and blueberry sauce, picking through and roasting 4 heads of garlic and then cutting up to freeze another 2 cloves, chopping and freezing 6 onions - all because I'm not going to have money this month. This makes me sad because I thought money was always important - instead I let money take a back seat to my self interest and I'm not happy to see that in myself. 

 

When money is the main issue, oh I can work hard and get it done. But when I want more time, etc, I will just let things go to waste. I am so sad about that.


~ Kim

mama to E (01-2007) and wife to C

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