I’ve been seeing a lot more in the news lately about food waste, and there really does seem to be a growing awareness that the US has a waste problem all along the supply chain. This is powerful. What other system could be tweaked to help mitigate climate change, reduce hunger, and potentially improve profits for farmers? Sure, there’s a lot of fixing to do along every step from farm to fork, but it ultimately comes down to managing our resources more effectively.
When I see the food waste at the cooking school where I work on the side, and think about the institutions (hospitals, schools, prisons, nursing homes, stadiums, corporate cafeterias) and catering operations all across the city where the waste is magnified by the hour, I do feel overwhelmed. But I think perspectives are shifting, and that the grassroots change starting in our kitchens is going to have a ripple effect. I call myself a frugal foodie, and I don’t just mean frugal in a monetary sense. My goal is to be frugal with the resources at my disposal (har har), and I’m aiming to waste as little of the edible kind of resource as possible.
Here are some tips from a recent Paste Magazine article: Ways to Curb Food Waste at Home
I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s advice. Since I started the side cooking school gig, the freezer has become my best friend. And luckily I’m perfectly content to eat the same thing for several lunches or dinners (or back to back meals) in a row. Junior year of high school, I packed myself a key lime pie yogurt and graham cracker sandwich with peanut butter literally every single day. I don’t think I’ve been able to eat key lime pie flavored yogurt since then, but you get the idea. The thing that’s new for me is attempting to recombine ingredients from various dishes into something different.
These little mini pizzas/bruschettas came from combining slightly stale (homemade!) sourdough bread, cherry tomatoes that were a bit past their prime and left in the fridge by my (former, sniff!, and now resident of California) roommate, cheddar cheese that also needed to be eaten, and a basil dressing that was leftover from a recent cooking class I worked, and broiling it all for a few minutes. What was initially just going to be plain old grilled cheese turned into this delicious-ness.
These lamb chops were cooking school leftovers, the potatoes also came from the cooking school – but from the fridge, because they were extras that didn’t get used for a recipe, and the kale and tomatoes were leftover from a recent picnic.
In sum, I’m eating incredibly well these days and my grocery bill is practically non-existent (other than the odds and ends I pick up at the farmers market), and thanks to the food scraps drop-off stations at the Greenmarkets, pretty much nothing edible is going into my trash can. Because that would just be a waste.