Nico did a science fair project on food waste last year, and it confirmed what I suspected: my family throws away $1500 each year. Better stated, studies show that for the average family of four, food waste amounts to roughly $1500 annually. I calculated our number was closer to $2000, given my proclivity for trying new things and buying food that “looks interesting.” That number was enough to inspire a commitment to decreasing waste. I also bought a composter. The same person who bought Umami Seasoning Blend on a whim wasn’t going to solve her family’s food waste issues overnight.
I didn’t solve our food waste issues overnight.
We did well for a while, but now that California is opening up, we are grabbing more takeout. Takeout is frequently spontaneous, which means more waste; I’m still buying groceries as if I am cooking at home every night. I haven’t made any changes to my farm box, either.
There was one way to decrease the amount of food we were wasting, and the solution was obvious and painful. I had to start doing the thing I hate the most: meal planning. Yes, some people love it, and there is no denying you save time and money, but I would rather darn socks. I don’t want to spend my Saturday or Sunday creating a meal plan. I don’t want to spend it grocery shopping, either. Honestly, I don’t want to meal plan, grocery shop, or darn socks on my weekends but of the three–give me socks.
I spent my Sunday meal planning, yay! One day maybe I will have fun doing this! I don’t think so! Oh well. I’m going into this weekly and am treating it as an offshoot of The William Morris Project. Have nothing in your house that you do not find to be tasty or is rotting.
Menu Plan | 4.11-4.17
I started this post on Sunday and have tweaked and edited it as I cooked my way through the plan. I will continue to update the post with my notes.
Sunday: Shredded Pork & Jackfruit with Orange & Chile de árbol, Roasted potatoes, salad
The shredded pork is a recipe from Julia Turshen’s latest cookbook, Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food. It called for two oranges! I have so many oranges in the fridge I need to use up (20+ from our trees already went to orange juice), and really wanted to use at least some of them in savory meals. This recipe was also an easy one for me to make alongside a vegetarian option (jackfruit) for Nico.
ETA: This was delicious and was an opportunity to try Chile de árbol and annatto paste for the first time. Both ingredients added a lot of flavor without as much heat as I feared!
Monday: Kale and Shitaki Mushroom Alfredo Bucatini
I’m not sure how I ended up with a large container of heavy cream in my refrigerator, but I did. I used it to make an Alfredo sauce in the same pan I used to sauté the mushrooms and kale I got in my farm box. The bucatini I bought after everyone declared this was the best pasta shape and pasta recipe, ever. Spoiler: no on both.
ETA: I can make Alfredo sauce with my eyes closed and do it often–too often. I used up food before it spoiled and shopped the pantry so that was an accomplishment, but overall this was a pretty boring meal. We have leftovers in the fridge that we may or may not finish.
Tuesday: Beyond Sausage Pizza with Roasted Broccoli
Tuesdays are my staff meeting days, so my husband does the cooking. We buy Sonoma Flatbread pizza at Costco, and he roasts vegetables to go with it. He makes the best roasted vegetables.
ETA: Fast and easy but even with two pizzas it wasn’t enough food for two teenagers. I’m glad I added roasted vegetables to the meal plan. A side of vegetables or a big salad is a must.
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Black Beans with Coconut Rice and Corn
Like the rest of the world, I bought all the beans in 2020. Time to use them! I’m using this recipe for black beans. My coconut rice is a family favorite and heavily adapted from this recipe. My plan is to make Chipotle-inspired bowls.
ETA: The Chipotle bowls were delicious! The meal gave me heartburn, but it was filling and tasty (more on how aging has really changed how and what I eat in another post). As I predicted when I wrote this earlier in the week, there is enough left over to make burritos on Thursday.
Thursday: Tacos or Burritos, Salad
I planned to use leftover jackfruit and pork from Monday here, but we enjoyed both so much that we don’t have enough to make a second meal. I do have enough to make quesadillas, and I bet we will have leftover beans from Wednesday to round it out or make burritos.
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Last week I made a homemade pear and gorgonzola pizza with arugula on top, and it was so good. I don’t have all the ingredients to make it again, but I am sure I will have plenty of other stuff to use up.
Saturday: Sushi with the Saints!
This is our favorite night of the week and is as nerdy as it sounds, but I will write about another day. This post is long enough as it is!
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