In our household, very little food goes to waste. We either grew it or bought it, and in either case, it would sure feel like the antithesis of frugal living to throw any of it out. And usually we don’t have to, since we have garbage food. Garbage food is any meal into which you can throw food you otherwise might be throwing into the garbage. Some examples:
- Bread pudding – Grandpa bakes a lot of fresh bread. We eat as much as we want. We collect the old stale crusts and they become bread pudding. Same goes for muffins, sandwich bread, bagels, etc. They collect in the fridge until we have a casserole dish worth.
- Soup – We make green beans with dinner. Any uneaten ones go into the freezer. Same for corn, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, etc. Spices losing their flavor? Throw them in the soup pot! Big batch of basil or rosemary come last frost? Freeze them ice cube trays, then one by one, into the soup pot.
- Pizza – What can’t you put on pizza? Almost nothing. Cheese ends? Great. Leftover squash or pumpkin? Puree it and replace the tomato sauce. Chili or baked beans? Spread it on the crust and dump cheese on top. Have some fruit going bad on you? Just cut it up and throw it in. We’re vegetarian, but same goes for any meat you’re trying to use up.
- Oatmeal – Any fruit we’re trying to use up before it goes bad.
- Omelets – Any vegetables you need to use up.
- Smoothies – Fruit that’s a little sketchy gets cut up and frozen. Then it goes into smoothies. Using frozen fruit makes the use of ice unnecessary and you don’t notice any ugly spots on the fruit. We don’t keep much juice in the house, but anything that looks like it isn’t getting drunk goes into the smoothies.
The average person in the US wastes 20 pounds of food per month. This is filling our landfills and releasing greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. The cliché of ‘Don’t waste food, there are children starving in China’ touches a nerve, although what’s on your plate isn’t going to feed children in China regardless. Nevertheless, since price is established by supply and demand, when we purchase food we won’t eat, we are unnecessarily driving up prices on those ‘starving children.’
But some food does still gets away from us. Do we always eat every last thing on our plate? Does nothing ever mold? For these times, we have Food for Worms and Food for Chickens. Two buckets sit on our counter. Moldy bread, orange rinds, coffee grounds, etc. all go into the compost and from there, into our garden. Anything remotely edible gets thrown to the chickens. They’re smart enough to eat what they want and to ignore the rest. It supplements their feed, reducing the cost of food to us. And whatever they don’t eat eventually turns into compost in the chicken run anyway. Frugal living starts with not wasting food.