When I switched to shopping mostly at the farmers' market instead of mostly at Trader Joe's, my food waste soared. I haven't really blogged much about it, because I'm kind of embarassed about it, but there it is.
Why did my food waste soar? For many reasons. One, because all the produce at the farmers' market looked so good, that my eyes would be bigger than my stomach, and I would buy too much. Two, because I was trying to do one big shop every week instead of doing 3-4 small shops every week, and I would get stressed out that if I didn't buy tomatoes now I would be screwed if I needed tomatoes later in the week. Three, because I read a lot of food porn. And I would get convinced that I just HAD to cook this recipe, but then ... I am lazy. And I lack follow through. And I would work until 7:30 most nights. And four, because I would buy all this food from the farmers' market and then end up eating out.
I know from reading Rubbish that I'm not the only American with a food waste problem. Food waste comprises a large portion of our landfills. Rathje and Murphy, the authors of Rubbish argue that when you eat roughly the same thing day after day, you are less likely to produce waste. Eating the same thing every day can be boring, but in my experience, they are right.
So part of my objective in July was to not waste any food, because frankly, if I'm trying to go without spending money on groceries for a month, then I can't afford any food waste. The first couple day of July, I ate cereal for breakfast, bread and cheese for lunch, and pancakes for dinner. I used up every last drop of batter, and ate the ends of my bread. I went home to the Bay Area for the weekend, and my mom packed me a cooler full of leftover food: fish, potatoes, and mushrooms. So then, for the next few days, that's all I ate. Fish and potatoes. Mushrooms and potatoes. Fish and mushrooms. Fish and a glass of chocolate milk. Potatoes and milk. (That was kind of a weird meal.)
Was it boring? Yes, kind of. Did I get a little freaked out about the lack of leafy green veggies in my diet? Definitely. Did I waste any food? No, I did not.
And now that the fish, mushrooms, potatoes, and milk are all finished, I'll probably go back to the pancakes (have to finish off the yogurt and eggs!) And for lunch, I'll probably end up eating peanut butter and jelly for a week.
It is nice not to be having food waste guilt. It is nice to not have the stress of cooking. And I LIKE peanut butter and jelly and pancakes. I could probably eat peanut butter and jelly for the rest of my life.
But it also doesn't seem super healthy. And I guess that's what I struggle with. When you are one person, and you eat something around 1700 calories a day, how do you fit in the veggies, the fiber, the carbs, the fats, and not have left over waste? Can I just throw farmers' market veggies in the freezer willy nilly? Because, I'll tell you what. Farmers' market produce is great. But I miss the convenience of frozen broccoli and spinach. I miss being able to sprinkle some veggies on a dish, and then being able to stick the rest of the veggies back in the freezer without worrying about waste.
Someone help me out before I get scurvy!
12 hours ago