food confessions

I’ve been thinking a lot about our food habits, good and bad, especially as our daughter’s birth approaches.  Her arrival means I’ll be working less, which means less income, which means how can we spend less on food?  What should go and what’s worth continuing to spend money on?  Also, how can we be less wasteful?  What do I want to teach her about eating?  Here’s a few musings, with more to come, I’m sure.

1. I use boneless, skinless chicken breast too much.  Bone-in, skin-on meat is always cheaper, and most people say more flavorful.  I am addicted to the convenience of thawing, chopping and adding boneless skinless chicken to whatever I’m cooking.  I feel like I should be more economical, and embrace the whole chicken, and use the bones and leftovers for stock and such, but so far I just haven’t.  Also–this is how I know it’s getting bad–when I have real chicken, it tastes greasy to me, and I resent the gristle and ligament and bones that are in the way.  Sigh.  I think often of this Gary Larson cartoon.

2.  We use way too many Ziploc bags.  If I have half a lemon, or a random bit of leftovers, and I can’t find a plastic container that’s the right size, it goes into a Ziploc.  Back in the day when I was more conscientious, I washed the Ziplocs and reused them.  I don’t do that anymore.  I think maybe the solution here is to buy more plastic or glass containers for leftovers in many sizes.

3.  I have 4 heads of cabbage in the fridge, all from the last two CSA boxes.  I am starting to admit defeat.  I have made all the dishes that we like that contain cabbage, and my husband says I should just throw it out (actually I think he said “you need counseling for your vegetable guilt”) or find someone to give it to.  I have a hard time wasting food, especially good, local food that I’ve paid for!  Any ideas, friends?  If I was really Mennonite, I’d make a huge batch of sauerkraut and can it or something.  But–something else I feel guilty about–I don’t like sauerkraut.  How can I call myself German Mennonite??

4.  We don’t compost or garden.  This is something I’ve reconciled myself with temporarily–we live in a third floor apartment with no yard space for ourselves.  Instead, I support our CSA and farmer’s market.  Still, I don’t like throwing out food scraps.  I feel like we empty the garbage so much more here than we ever did in Rochester, where we had a compost heap in the backyard.  The increased garbage, though, is also due to the limited recycling available here–we can’t recycle glass, or any plastics except 1 and 2.

5.  I’d like to start thinking more about all the packaging involved in the food I buy.  We go through one container of yogurt per week, and the containers aren’t recyclable.  So I have a huge stockpile of them, which my husband has started to throw away when I’m not paying attention.  I keep thinking there must be some use for them!  They do come in handy as a container when I make homemade ice cream but that happens rarely.  My cousin Joe started making yogurt at home since they had the same problem–they can reuse the glass jars that they make the yogurt in.  I haven’t started that yet but it seems like a good idea.  Also–I buy canned beans for the convenience, even though I used to make black beans starting from scratch back in the day (which of course taste infinitely better).  Those tin cans are recyclable, though.

6.  In general, I need to do more canning and freezing and other such preserving of food.  I am actually excited about being home more, and working less, so that I have some time to do this.  I want a big garden someday.



Filed under food philosophy

7 responses to “food confessions

  1. JDT

    Oatmeal. Oatmeal. Oatmeal.
    If you make sauerkraut, I’ll eat it.

  2. mennogourmet

    How can you eat oatmeal all the time when there’s so many delicious things out there? 🙂
    I might have to do a sauerkraut experiment. Maybe I’ll like it, it’s been awhile. I’ll keep you posted.

  3. Oh Mennonite guilt 🙂 My coworker Andrew picks on me about that. I love Krestia’s quote on vegetable guilt. My food confessions are:
    1. sometimes popcorn popped on the stove is a meal.
    2. I too often let leftovers go bad in the fridge.
    3. I don’t compost either (but plan to start soon – if we had a driver’s license with a Vancouver address on it, we could get one for FREE from the city! So we have to have a friend help us)
    3. I’m lucky if I cook – REALLY cook – twice a week. I have high standards for “really cooking” though…I’ll never buy those awful frozen dinners. yuck.

    Bradley and I don’t buy chicken breasts – we buy lots of thighs with bone and skin, and then we bone them ourselves if needed (which is annoying). I’ve only made homemade stock once or twice but I’d like to do it more too.

    I think you should give sauerkraut another try! I didn’t like it before but Donna always makes pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s and now I like it.

  4. Karen

    1. I agree- chicken is messy and annoying. Solution? Eat less meat! If you’re adding it to “whatever you’re cooking,” then it’s probably not an integral ingredient and the dish would be tasty even without it. Or try tofu (extra firm and all the water squeezed out.)

    2. I don’t like to wash plastic bags, but I will use them for a long time- one bag for many blocks of cheddar cheese (as long as I eat it before it goes moldy-usually not a problem!), one bag for partial onions for a long time, etc. I actually throw them back in the fridge even if they’re empty. I also like hummus or cream cheese containers for small things, but I would like some larger glass containers with plastic lids so I could microwave leftovers more easily.

    3. I think if you find someone to take it, it’s not wasteful.

    4. We have a “compost” heap (i.e. place we dump food scraps) and really good recycling, and as a result we decided not to get trash service at all (the minimum was $12 for a 1-zillion gallon can and we produce like 1-3 grocery bags per week).

    5. I’ve never made beans from dried beans. My friend Emily says it’s hard. I really hate packaging, though- I wish we could reuse all the packages like old soda bottles! I think out of all the environmental things, trash is the one that bothers me personally the most, even if it’s really not the worst.

    6. I don’t get the canning/freezing/preserving thing. I’d rather eat it fresh.

    My current angst is not over any food issues, but over our tomato plants- we planted all the seeds from one tomato we ate last year (an heirloom one), and they ALL GREW, so now we have like 200 seedlings packed into two egg cartons (and 36 of them have been repotted in soy milk containers, etc.) Every day I choose some to repot and I feel like a Nazi choosing the healthy ones. And of course we can’t even plant 36, so we’ll eventually give them away or sell them at the farmers’ market or ???

  5. *I’m a whole chicken girl.
    *May I please have a cabbage? I’m making that pasta with the carrots and cabbage and I only have red ones left.
    *You can dump your scraps in our compost pile if you want too.
    *I use way too many Ziploc bags. And at the moment, I don’t care. Baby steps…
    *Beer bottles and yogurt containers are the bane of my existence at the moment. I throw away the yogurt ones when the outside starts fading from use. The breaking down plastic can’t be healthy. I have made yogurt, but I love Nancy’s better.

  6. janna

    did i tell you about the delicious asian-influenced cabbage/carrot salad that the lady who owns the angelica inn made for thanksgiving at billy and denise’s? i haven’t tried it yet, but it seems pretty easy. she said she mixed together chopped red cabbage, white cabbage, matchsticked carrots, red onions and sesame seeds and marinated it in a dressing of red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar (???), sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce and cilantro. can’t imagine the champagne vinegar is that important… i’m guessing we could find something online to give us a general idea at the proportions. i made myself a salad of carrots/cabbage and broccoli with a dressing the other day, ate half of it right away and half later and i liked it much better after it had marinated for a bit.

  7. Karen

    I just saw this really easy yogurt making thing in an article called “make or buy”:

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