Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom ~ Food Clutter

 

Cindy

“Leftovers make you feel good twice. First, when you put it away, you feel thrifty and intelligent: ‘I’m saving food!’ Then a month later when blue hair is growing out of the ham, and you throw it away, you feel really intelligent: ‘I’m saving my life!'”

– George Carlin, comedian

I just finished reading the book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. Briefly, Kathleen is a former restaurant and food critic who earns a degree at Le Cordon Bleu. One evening, back in the United States, she is grocery shopping and starts following a woman who is filling her cart only with highly processed, packaged foods including roast beef dinners, macaroni and cheese, and just-add-water scalloped potatoes. She finally strikes up a conversation with the women and hears the confession that the woman does not know how to cook, at all. From this, Kathleen gets the idea to open the Kitchen Counter Cooking School: She finds nine women who all confess to not knowing how to cook, and she trains them over the course of several months. Along the way, Kathleen talks about food politics, food waste, processed foods, sustainability, as well as how to wield a knife and other kitchen basics.

The sections on food waste caught my eye as it relates to clutter. Please bear with me as I quote some big sections of the book.

“Even as we bemoan food prices, American consumers are generally unaware that they spend less of their wages on food than any other country in the world; just under 10 percent of their paychecks. Compare that to 1900, when 40 percent of wages went toward food. Around 1960, the first time the amount spent on food was no longer the biggest expenditure, the figure was about 25 percent. The declining cost comes with the rise of the industrialization of farming practices and the shift of everything we eat – from pigs and cows to orange juice – into mass produced merchandise.”

“Perhaps it’s the lack of investment that leads to a cavalier attitude toward food. We may give thanks for the bounty once a year [Thanksgiving in the US], but then as a country we collectively waste about 40 percent of the food produced for consumption the rest of the time. Anthropologist Timothy Jones spent more than a decade studying food waste. His research finds that some crops sit abandoned or unharvested in the fields where they’re grown. Supermarkets or suppliers discard another few percent dismissed as too imperfect for retail. The rest – about 25 to 30 percent – we throw away at home. That food goes into landfills to rot, where it emits clouds of methane, a greenhouse gas more toxic and damaging than carbon monoxide.

” ‘By treating edibles as a disposable commodity, we teach our children not to value food,’ says Jonathan Bloom… He puts the figure on what we waste at more than $100 billion annually. This jived with what I found in the interviews with the volunteers and the kitchen visits [to her student’s homes before the lessons began] and what I observed in my own house and in the homes of friends. A few of the volunteers agreed to keep a journal of what they bought, ate, and threw out for two week. The result? They reported less waste due to the guilt they felt knowing they had to write it down, but even then, an average of 18 percent of their grocery bills went into the trash.

“But why do we waste so much? Both Jones and Bloom offer some interesting insights.

“First people often shop for the life they aspire to, not their real one. [Aspirational clutter!] Everyone knows that they’re supposed to eat fruit and vegetables, so we stock up on perishables. Since most people don’t plan meals for the week, those beets or greens that looked so great at the farmers’ market sit untouched as we end up eating convenience foods. [Impulse purchases!] With proper planning, buying in bulk or loading up on two-for-one deals can be a genuine money saver; without a plan, it’s just a recipe for double or triple the amount of food tossed away.

“Dr. Trubek from the University of Vermont has studied the activities of home cooks for years… ‘Planning menus is the greatest skill that we’ve collectively lost,’ she said. ‘That, and what to do with leftovers.’

Various chefs and food experts offer their ideas on how to eliminate food waste:

  • Participate in an “eating down the fridge” challenge where you avoid buying groceries for a week and intentionally eat down your pantry and refrigerator.  [Use it up challenge!]
  • Put a photo you like at the back of your refrigerator. Your fridge shouldn’t be so full that you can’t see it.
  • Use up old products first, which is known as rotation in the restaurant world.
  • Buy a realistic amount of produce. In our family, when I buy bananas, I just get four, not an entire bunch. Pears go bad quickly, and I usually buy only two of those – a half for each person.
  • Especially in the United States and Europe, you can let the grocery store be your pantry: There will be more bananas  pears, cereal, flank steak next time you shop. Just because you can buy something doesn’t mean that you should.
  • Don’t be afraid to substitute. If  you need a zucchini for a recipe but only have a green pepper, use that instead. No Panko? Use regular bread crumbs as a substitute. [Use it up challenge!]
  • Don’t give up too easily on your food. Peel away the dent or the brown spot rather than throwing the whole thing away.
  • Bought too much? Try IQF, individually quick frozen. Spread the extra berries or veggies on a baking sheet and freeze them. When frozen, sweep them into a plastic bag. (And don’t forget to use them!)
  • Clean our your condiment shelf by taking some similar flavors and combine them into a marinade. There are sites on the web that will help you to know what flavors work well with what if you’re struggling with this idea. Here’s one possible helper.
  • Soup is the great user of all-things-leftover.
  • Don’t try to reinvent the culinary wheel for every meal. Develop a stable of recipes that you enjoy and know how to make, and lean on those for the majority of your meals.
  • Take leftovers to work and pack them in your kid’s lunches.

On a different note, thank you to everyone who searched the Internet for the blog post I was looking for. It was found on Small Notebook, and here it is.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something from your pantry that isn’t healthy for you even though most people stock it. The best way to avoid unhealthy food is to not keep it in your home. ~ Examples:- White sugar, pasta, sweet sauces, white rice, white flours, candy…

Eco Tip for the Day

 No need for a tip today as there are plenty in Cindy’s post above.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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Comments

  1. Still having publishing problems today and my tech guy is unavailable. Sorry for the late posting and any inconvenience that may cause you.

  2. Leftover-I have left over Shepherd’s pie today. Always better when it festers. I might even have to eat it for morning tea.

    Francesca

    • Fester – in my mind that mean to go bad. I’ll say “always better when the ingredients get more friendly.”

    • I so agree, Shepherd’s Pie is better if you give it time to develop it’s flavour overnight.
      Yum. By the way Cindy, fester is a bad thing but use playfully in Francesca’s comment.

      I had leftover lemon infused sweet potato and pumpkin with fetta and the sauce from Mustard and Leek Chicken for dinner tonight. Yum.

  3. This post was fascinating and truly sad, actually. I used to think that I should broaden my cooking skills. I wasted a lot of food that way. I eat what I like and that means something I can actually cook and feel that it’s tasty. Same with clothes. I wear what I like. I tried to get fancy, but I am not a fancy person. I no longer make it complicated. Complicated didn’t make me happy.

    I was discussing pantry items with my mom the other day. She has an enormous walk-in pantry. She remarked that she suspected she had a lot of out-of-date food in there and that is a shame. The last time I went through my cupboards, I also found some out-of-date food. When I am at the store now, I buy only what I plan to use. My food bill may be going down. Is that possible??

    • You’re not reinventing the wheel every time and are buying and eating what you like. I can image that could result in your food bill decreasing.

    • Michelle – yup it will go down, if you have to replace some staple pantry items that have expired, then you may not see an initial reduction. The key is to pace yourself and not to start splurging out on lots of new pantry items as you discover exciting recipes. And I also now watch the supermarket specials and there is a trend to it and when beef comes on special, I get enough for 3 or 4 weeks, it spikes my week’s budget but I make sure I’m not buying anything else pricey that week, usually chicken goes on special two weeks later. It all evens out.

  4. Cindy – you have no idea how happy I am to see this post! I made it my Jan-Feb mini-resolution to not allow any wasted food from the pantry and fridge – kitchen management has never been my forte. Boy have I been on a learning curve! To find a use for every bit of left over has been challenging but YAY for the internet – google “what to do with left over (insert name)”. Initially I was a bit hamster-on-a-wheel trying to stay on top of the left overs, but I have become better at managing the quantities I make and as the ideas and recipes I have learnt to use up left overs have become part of my repertoire ie I don’t need to refer to a recipe or instructions now, it isn’t so mentally taxing. Trust me, there is a fabulous idea for every type of left over out there. And left overs are always so much more yummy as the flavours have soaked in, so whatever you make with these are double yum.

    LOL – I should mention though that some of the left over recipes have become favourites and now I have to make a double batch of potato salad (yes I make potato salad now – I used to buy it from the supermarket) to accommodate.

    I have read similar information on wastage, so sad when so many starve to death.

    I have also learnt more about how to keep fruit and vegetables from going off in the fridge, there are some really clever tricks out there – eg if you wrap celery in tin foil it stays crisp longer. Bananas kept in an air tight plastic container in the fridge last about a week longer (we go thru a lot of bananas so I have to buy 2 kilos).

    As I have always described myself as “cateringly challenged” I have shyed away from kitchen skills, so I would have loved to be one of the nine women she taught – but I would often ask friends ‘hey what do you do with your leftover……”, also a great source of information.

    Initially I didn’t see a dip in the grocery bill as there were items that I needed to stock – but I have noticed March we have seen a dip in our weekly bill. YAY! However, I am now going to try some Moroccan dishes and I will need to expand my spices further. Initially I am just using up a jar of Moroccan mixed spice, just in case it the style doesn’t prove popular.

    I can’t get over how much cheaper it is to make food or if you’re prepared to spend what you normally would on a meal how you can make something out of this world. I now have membership to three online recipe clubs – who would have thought I would do that? Certainly not me!

    Last night I was planning my groceries and I felt like making a curry and was flicking between recipes to see which I already had most of the ingredients or if I had to buy anything, which of the three Morroccan recipe that I want to try had the closest list of requirements. Cateringly Challenged me would never have thought to do that.

    Adrian and I are talking of planting a small ‘salad’ garden next summer. My friends are in shock! Me, Moni The Kitchen Hater and UnGardener, is into cooking and is growing capsicum seedlings on the kitchen window sill! They have told me that if I start knitting, there will be an intervention!

    Sorry I have go on so much, but the last 2 and a half months have been such a food adventure

    • Wow and double wow for you!!! Great, great, great job!

    • This is neat Moni. I love what you have been doing and how it is turning out.

    • woooohoooow. well done!
      Everything you describe I also experienced. Calling friends/mothers “what do you do, how do you store, whats the thing with…”. Big source of information is asking the older generations. Seems like life experience is doing the trick when it comes to household things.

      I have been bad the last couple of months. I threw away a lot of food left overs. my problem are fruits and salads. And while I will just diminish the amount of salad I get into my home, I will keep the amount of fruit, but then stock up on jam sugar. This has been proven a safe method for me. I havent bought any jam in over a year because I am making it myself now most of the time. I always thought that making marmelade is a huge effort, but actually is so simple. You dont need a lot of ingredients and its so simple to do. biggest thing: cutting fruits 😉 Yesterday evening, I decided to tackle the 1,5 kilos of apples that accumulated. Found an easy recipe online, and started right away, because I had the sugar. Now I have three new jars of apple-ginger-marmelade. its so yummy!! a big benefit: you can give self-made marmelade as presents. especially with sorts that are a bit unusual (and I am using up my crayons by designing labels).

      My veggie leftovers often end in a curry. I started cooking those by recipe (you know, stepbystep following careful the recipe) but I mastered my skills up to “free curry cooking”. I am often surprised how good I became, with no need for recipes at all. I know what fits and what I like.

      • Curry to me is like Tex-Mex to some the other readers. I know what the spice “curry” is and I imagine it’s sort of a a stir-fry veggie / meat combo on rice, but I wouldn’t know where to start.

        • yes you are right. thats what I call a curry. oil, onions, garlic, spices (cumin, curry, etc.), frying. then add veggies with a bit of water/broth/cream, let it simmer until preferred (I like it crisp), then taste and spice until preferred. sometimes I add lentils, sometimes its with potatoes (sweet potatoes, hmmmm), sometimes its with rice…
          the thing is easy to switch, if you dont feel indian, then go mexican, or italian. its all about the combination of veggies and spices really.

          I love one pot dishes, because I have to do the dishes manually and its simpler. So I prefer dishes like stew, curry, risotto, or soups. I might be a good cook for those but I totally admit defeat if there are more than 3 pots on the stove. thats too much coordination for my taste 😉

  5. I am giving myself a use-it-up challenge tonight. Recently I made a pretty boring tomato-curry soup. I froze what we didn’t eat, and tonight I am using it as a base for (hopefully!) a more interesting soup. I’m poking around on allreipces.com, and my plan is to add cabbage, carrots, and white beans to the tomato base. Soup plus some bread out of the freezer should make a nice meal.

  6. Cindy – I have just gone online to our city library and have requested it from a branch across town to pick up from our local one – that’s another thing I’m doing more of this year, using the library. I’m requesting a book on Tex-Mex food – here in New Zealand we don’t know the half of what can be made. This is your part of the world Cindy? We have tacos and nachos – there are also burrito and fajitas though most people I know stick to tacos and nachos. Have been like a kid in a candy store trawling thru Tex-Mex areas of allrecipes.com

    By the way – does anyone have any good ideas for left over corn chips / nachos?

    Handy hint: put left over nachos in a sealed bag and in the freezer.

    • Just to clarify – I have left over nachos in the freezer and am looking for a clever idea to use them apart from nachos. Adrian plonked a container of ice cream on top of them so they’re probably a bit broken.

      • Tex-Mex is totally my part of the world. A recipe that I make all the time can be found here. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/six-can-chicken-tortilla-soup/detail.aspx. However, it is improved with these modifications.
        1) Don’t use canned chicken. Either cook it yourself or buy it at the store. Canned is way too bland. However, our favorite way to make it is with ground (loose) sausage or link sausage. Brown either of the sausages before use.
        2) Add at least a 1/2 t cumin and 1/2 t oregano
        3) Top with your choice of crushed chips, sliced avocado, shredded cheddar or bland white cheese, chopped cilantro, and/or sour cream.

        • Cindy – wow, I would never have thought of Mexican soup.
          LOL – just watched the video too and realised we have been saying Tortilla wrong.
          Glad you mentioned canned chicken ’cause I find it too bland too.

          Last night I learned how to turn tortilla’s into little baskets using an upside down muffin tray – have seen it done inside muffin trays but we don’t have the mini size tortilla’s so I need to cut some down – or find a recipe and make them.

          • Tore T (accent here) yuh
            Cindy’s dictionary, obviously not the official phonetic spelling. Were you saying the Ls? Make since if you were.

      • You could use the chips in a chili. Add them near the end of the cooking process. Nomnomnom. Adds a little crunch and texture to chili (or any soup, really…like tortilla soup). That’s my measly two cents. ^____^

    • Moni, I’ve never done it but I’ve read that crushed chips can be used as a coating on chicken or pork chops. I think you’d need to dip the meat in egg first to make it stick but I’m sure there’s a proper method on the internet, don’t take my word for it 🙂

    • I use left over nacho/tortilla chip “crumbs” to make a topping for chicken enchilada’s. Gives it a great crunch

  7. Great statistics to go with your insight. Great post!

  8. Wow. I can’t imagine not knowing how to cook. It has always been an interest and love of mine. I remember teaching a few of my friends in high school some basic cooking methods. I’m no cordon bleu but I can cook up a tasty and filling meal (that doesn’t come out of a box).

    I’ve started an Eating down the freezer/pantry challenge. Since I’m the main cook in the house (my mom figures she cooked most days for 40 years, she deserves a break and I agree – plus I love cooking), I’m going to try to use ingredients we already have on hand (with some leeway for fresh fruit and veg). It should be interesting. The real challenge will be in minimizing the leftovers waste.

    • Rachael W – I could cobble together a meal and had some tried and true easy recipes but I actively didn’t enjoy cooking and wasted a lot and often it would get to 6pm and I’d realise that nothing was defrosted so I’d have to run up to the supermarket to get something. I tried for several years to do meal plans but didn’t understand enough about food to make it economical ie to realise I was missing an ingredient would send me into a tailspin…..and back to the supermarket. It was easier just to tell everyone that I was a crap cook and that let me off the hook. LOL its a bit like admitting you have a particular phobia.

      • Moni – no judgements here. My older sister knew how to cook but hated it to the point of avoidance for years. Not for the same reasons you claimed not to know how to cook but I get that people have their individual reasons. Like a friend of mine who knows how to cook but doesn’t let people know because she figures they won’t like how she cooks things.

        It seems like you are really starting to feel more comfortable and daring in the kitchen. Congratulations! I think it is awesome you’ve challenged yourself to doing and trying new things (even gardening soon!). I love reading your comments on how you’ve changed aspects of your life – even if I don’t comment on them. It reminds me to challenge myself too. :]

    • I felt really sad when I read about those women lacking such a vital life skill. My Mom was (is) a real women’s libber and a pioneer in women working in the US, but she also had a degree in economics and household management, so I got the best of both worlds – I never needed a man to support me and I know how to sew and cook.

      • Let me amend that – she has a degree in HOME economics and household management.

      • My mom didn’t have any degrees but she sure did a good job of making me self sufficient. So did my dad. He showed me how to change tires, oil, spark plugs, etc. on a car. He taught me to read maps, plan trips, budget, manage finances, etc. He also showed me how to make house repairs. Between the two of them I have been able to function on my own very well.

        One thing I am proud of our church denomination for doing is taking the saying that goes something like this “Give a man a fish he becomes dependent, teach a man to fish he becomes self-sufficient.” I know that isn’t quite the right saying. Anyway, in our missions endeavors we send people out from many countries to go to other countries to teach them how to be self-sufficient. We did wells, teach them crop rotation and what crops do best in their area, provide animals to them to raise and breed so they can have an income, help them start home businesses like sewing, show repair, etc. We also do the micro loans thing. Everything we do is to help them get started, teach them how to keep going and then let them make the business their own. Yes, we also take in food and basic hygiene items in cases of famine, war, etc. but that it to get them over the hump. We also go into the camps for displaced persons and work to provide them with shelter, clean water, food, schools, and clinics. Once their basic needs are taken care of we then start working on helping them with ways to sustain themselves. Even in a camp setting they need to feel like they can do for themselves.

  9. I reading your post Cindy I came to the realization that while we need to be very careful about eating processed foods Mom and I need to also admit that it is getting harder for us to spend lots of time cooking. We no longer have the energy we once did. In fact, right now I have no energy as my Chronic Fatigue has kicked in big time and I just want to sleep. So I am going to sit down with Mom and we will figure out how to plan meals in a way that takes the least energy yet gives us good, home cooked, healthy meals. Thanks for your post.

    • Deb J – oh you poor thing, is it a seasonal thing or an overdoing it thing? Don’t be afraid to share this problem with your pastor as there may be some who’d be prepared to come and help cook.

    • I also have health issues. Not sure if you have a crock pot but I often use that on my “bad” days. Easy to put together and usually makes a bunch so I can use it for leftovers

      • Angel – sorry to hear that. I stumbled onto this idea recently for crock pot (and was also something similar in a clip on Friday’s Favourites) to prepare the meals for the crock pot in big zip lock bags and freeze them, so you just take a bag out of the freezer the night before to defrost and turn on the crock pot etc. Personally I haven’t done it as I’m trying to learn more about other forms of cooking at the moment and we’re at the end of Summer here so not really the crock pot season, but I think the idea has merit especially if facing a convalesence.

  10. I always have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia which both cause exhaustion but the Epstein Barr Virus that causes Chronic fatigue is active right now so it makes it worse. If I get lots of rest it should go away. We have had so many deaths and people in the hospital and such that we have a constant meal plan going just for all of these. I think if we just sit down and plan meals (Mom hates doing this) we will be okay.

    • I hope that you get to feeling better soon, Deb J.

    • I don’t know about chronic fatigue but I have fibromyalgia (and panic disorder with a touch of depression). The exhaustion with no “real” cause (like exercise or other strenous activity) is so hard to shake. I had to cut most of the caffiene and sugar out of my diet. It helps -not a cure but it helps me.

      I hope you are able to plan meals, eat healthy, and get rest.

      • Rachel W, you understand what I am going through. Changing my diet has helped a lot in some ways. I was just taken by surprise by this as I have done so much better. But I guess the combo of all the work at S’s, having that asthma attack and bronchitis before Christmas and then not slowing down over the holidays really set me up for a bad bout. Guess that shows me I am not as far along as I thought. I have to be more careful how much I do. Pace myself.

    • Rest up my friend and you will hopefully feel better in no time.

      • I agree with Colleen.

      • Thanks Colleen, Cindy, Jen and Rachel W. I am certainly working on it. It is hard to just give up and quit doing. But I am doing it.

        • It’s not giving up. It is listening to your body’s needs so you can ultimately keep doing. Nothing wrong with taking a break and taking care of your health. ::hugs::

    • Have you ever tried taking guafaneisen for the fibromyalgia? A Canadian woman dr. who had it found the guafaneisen helped her.

      • I have tried it. It didn’t seem to do anything for me. I have a friend who swears by it ans says it really helps her. I guess it is just one of many things that help some and doesn’t help others.

  11. I like making “wife soup” to use up neglected and soon to spoil ingredients. I’ve also been making whole grain muffins flavored with whatever I’m trying to get rid of, which has resulted in some really tasty breakfasts. Right now, I have an excess of hot sauce and have been trying to make more spicy sauces to get through my stash.

    • Wife soup? I understand what must go in it, but not how it got its name! Help?

      • I picked up the phrase from the TV series Firefly. I just like calling it something besides “junk we need to eat” soup soup for marketing reasons.

        • I LOVED Firefly, but I don’t remember wife soup.

          • We call it Dump Soup. We just dump in all of the leftovers.

          • In the episode where Mal accidentally marries the con woman, she makes wife soup and the crew makes a big deal about how good it tastes.

            My husband would probably not eat dump soup. 🙁

        • Thanks, Rebecca J 🙂

          I’ve heard of Dump Cake, but not Dump Soup. Dump Cake is named because it’s made with a whole can, or whole package, or whole container, of each ingredient – all dumped together. No measuring required.

  12. Great post, Cindy. We need to be reminded that waste and clutter comes in many forms. I try to cook every night and eat out once a week. Sometimes I am lucky and I have enough leftovers for the next night, then I get a night off from cooking :). I have been as diligent as possible at trying not to waste since it is throwing money away. I keep a pretty good look at the expiration dates on items and try to plan meals to keep them used up prior to those dates. I have a good rotation of recipes to choose from, but I do try a few new ones from time to time. I follow a few cooking blogs and cooking shows which give me inspiration. Being able to see step by step pictures or watching a show helps me since I can see exactly how it is done. I do like the idea of having one meal weekly to use up all of the leftovers. I think that is something you had mentioned that you do, Cindy. For me, I need to start utilizing my freezer more if I do notice that something is not going to be eaten right away.

  13. I started trying to reduce waste about a year and a half ago, and have come a long way. I must admit that partly I’m doing better because our kids are both living on their own now – my husband and I are much less picky eaters so we’ll happily eat the same thing several nights in a row, or have something very light and simple if we’re tired or late. I try to keep a very close eye on the food we do have in stock. If something needs used up I’ll write myself a note or I’ll put it in the freezer or cook it so it’s ready for the next meal. We eat quite simple plain meals; when I start making things with lots of fat in them (cheese, cream, marbled meat) the weight starts going on! The last time I had a lot of waste was at Christmas – I gave in to the temptation to buy things to bake with and special treats – and ended up not using or eating them before they expired. Now I know for the next holiday – count the meals and buy a bit less than we need, not more!

    • I think Colleen made a good point around Christmas when she said that people don’t need more food just because it’s the end of the year.

  14. Cindy – have been in consult with some Kiwi cooks – can you please explain the difference between:
    tacos, fajita, tortilla, burritos, enchilada and quesadilla

    This represents the total range of Mexican options at the supermarket. We were all confident we understood nachos and tacos, but one of the other looked similar. Most people opt for buying a meal kit.

    • Tortilla – soft, round traditional bread make of flour or corn meal, lard or other fat, water, and salt.

      Tacos – almost any filling (traditionally meat, potatoes, cheese, eggs, beans, rice) in a tortilla (flour or corn) or in a hard shell (taco shell). Hard taco shells are not traditional, however.

      Burrito – Almost the same as a taco, but the filling is wrapped in a tortilla like a baby being swaddled instead of just folding the tortilla in half.

      Fajitas (pronounced Fa HE tas, no J sound) – a way of preparing meat, often tough meat, but can be beef, pork, chicken or shrimp with beef and chicken being the most common. Vegetarians sometime substitute portabello mushrooms. The meat is marinaded then grilled. Served with grilled peppers, onions, and tortillas along with sides of cheese, avocado, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, salsa (spicy tomato-based sauce), and/or sour cream

      Queso – Literally means cheese in Spanish, but on a menu it means a mixture of melted cheese along with salsa, at a minimum. Eaten with tortilla chips. Chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, or even cooked crumbled sausage may be added.

      Enchilada – Taco filling is rolled in a tortilla and placed in a baking dish then it is smothered with salsa and cheese and baked until everything is hot, bubbly, and friendly.

      Quesadilla – The grilled cheese of the Mexican world. Two tortillas with cheese between them. Sometimes other fillings like a bit of chicken or vegetable are added. It can be heated directly over a flame (can get messy) or in a dry pan.

      And THAT is Cindy’s primer on Getting to Know Your Tex-Mex Foods. (Tex-Mex = a fusion of Texas and Mexican cuisines found in the border areas of the United States and Mexico. Different in many ways from Interior Mexican cuisine.)

      • Cindy, you are making me hungry and it’s only 8:30 a.m. here in the States!

      • I agree with Michelle. You are making me hungry. Mexican or Tex-Mex is my favorite food.

        • I have ground beef thawing out as burritos are on the menu tonight – I can hardly wait!

          Cindy, oatmeal sounds sad – – – good for you – – – but sad. I didn’t do much better. Breakfast was a hard boiled egg. 🙁 still hungry. . . .

      • Cindy – thank you for that. Interesting to see that the hard shell tacos aren’t the traditional ones, as taco’s (hard) and nacho’s were the only representatives of Mexican food here for many many years. The others have crept in and guess what is a ‘new’ product at my supermarket? soft tacos.

        A burrito sounds quite similar to a turkish kebab. Yum yum, its making me hungry.

        Anyway, after all this talk, tacos will be on the menu next week!

        We have a Mexican restaurant in town that is quite popular, although no one understands the menu. The accepted method for picking your meal is to have a shot of tequila, close eyes, spin the menu and point to something.

        My friends were fascinated to hear that there is Mexican soup. There you go, learn something new every day.

      • Hi Cindy,
        I just gained 5kgs reading all that yumminess!!!
        Thanks
        I think !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  15. We spend about 75% of our income on food, our case is perhaps unique at best, let me tell you though that we do not waste a single bite. When one has priorities of eating real foods over processed ingredients, the table shifts, but what we are eating is not only healthy for our family, but it is the locally responsible thing to do.

  16. In India, we generally cook our meals, so there are less chances of wastage. The left-overs are stored in fridge and consumed in a day or two. Or the left-overs are given to the beggars or it is fed to stray dogs.

  17. I like the website supercook.com. You put in what ingredients you have on hand and it gives you a bunch of recipes that include those ingredients. Pretty handy when you don’t want to go to the store and you’re staring into the fridge wondering what to do with half a chicken breast, some leftover take-out rice, three asparagus spears, and a sad looking pineapple.

  18. I never ‘forget’ leftovers as they are my prime lunch (no soggy sandwiches here!). And I keep food waste down by shopping in the afternoon I’ll make the meal – convenient seeing the shops are in the same block as my apartment. Maybe it’s more expensive but there’s an expense in waste and too much. Seldom does anything spoil too. I also only seem to cook at home two to three nights a week-I’m now tracking this on my blog, with nights out at parents and bf’s place as well as eating out (the luxurious norm of my youth).

  19. “Let the grocery store be your pantry”…I love that.
    I’ve noticed many people who stock up their pantries and freezers with huge food supplies and yet still visit the supermarket every other day. Collectively we seem to fear of running out of food even when it is in plentiful supply.

  20. Thanks for sharing these great thoughts. We found as we became more intentional with all aspects of our lives that food just sorted itself out. We have very little waste (we aren’t perfect though), and have simple, under filled cupboards and a fridge.

  21. Great post and discussion. I find the $21 challenge great for ideas for using up leftovers http://www.simplesavings.com.au/21dollarchallenge/

  22. I like the statement that just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. This goes for clutter as well as food. It is so easy to buy things we don’t need because we can afford to do so. It takes more self control not to buy things we don’t need.

  23. Tips that I have used the last few months on saving time and money in the kitchen. I put our “favorites” on index cards. Each card has the name of the meal plus the sides we usually eat with it. On the back I put a condensed version of the recipe. I can quickly look through the list and then add to my grocery list what I need to buy to make the meal. I pull out 15 meals for each month. I make enough of each meal to last for two dinners. We eat it for two days in a row and then if there are still any leftovers the kids are free to eat it for lunches after that. I buy simple things, like sandwiches for lunch otherwise. This has greatly reduced the amount of food we have left over as well as taken the stress out of trying to figure out what to make and reduces the time I need to make a grocery list. When I get home from the store I try to go ahead of make up some of the steps I would need to make a meal, then put it in the freezer until I want to use that meal. I don’t have a set day for each meal, just keep the list on the fridge and then make what I want for that day, then make a check mark by it once it has been used that month. I buy produce then about every two weeks but only one large grocery shopping a month for the menu. As far as keeping produce fresh, my sister just gave me the tip to wash everything in one part vinegar to 10 parts water and then allow to air dry before placing back into fridge(do this right when you get back from the store, it is suppose to stop the ripening process). She has been able to keep berries fresh for over two weeks using this method.

    • Angel – my friend who is a chef (and has patiently over the years tried to educate me) got me to do a similar method. As my cooking repetoire has increased since January, we’ve split them into ‘types’ ie Italian, Curries, Chinese so I can mix things up. I’m also doing some quick sums on who much the meal costs so that I don’t blow the budget. Fried rice is a cheap and yummy meal so that’s on the menu most weeks these days.

      AND if there is a clever idea for left overs, that is also written on the back of the card.

      I’m interested in the vinegar idea for produce – generally food doesn’t last long in our fridge as I have three teenagers but food wastage is an area of interest to me since I took on the mini-resolution to not waste food. Initially I thought the only method was to eat it! My husband felt like a force-fed guinea pig in the early stages of the challenge.

  24. I’ve been trying to introduce the idea of not stockpiling food at home, but doing it slowly so that hubby doesn’t dig his heels in (I also want to prove to him that we don’t need two freezers when the shops are open almost 24/7). Anyway, we have our food shop delivered on a Friday evening every week and on Fridays we are really scratching about for food. It started snowing on Thursday evening here and snowed all day and evening yesterday, last night the delivery van got stuck in the country lane and couldn’t deliver. It’s still snowing, they have now phoned and said they won’t be able to deliver at all this weekend and they are just going to cancel the delivery. We can’t get out, so we are in for a weekend of creative cookery in our house.