Earth Mini Series v.3

Happy Monday! I had a wonderful productive weekend accomplishing small tasks that helped me to work ahead of this week. We are now counting down to the last three weeks till the end of the spring semester, before final exams. I’ve got the rest of this weeks MWF posts ready to write this week and you can continue to follow me here for future posts on writing, content, and mini series. Let’s get started by talking about food.

40% of all food in the United States doesn’t get eaten

Food Waste

Before you throw out your food- consider this infographic below about the amount of waste one person, one family consumes and then throws out on their plate. The second issue with food waste, is the amount of people who are dealing with food insecurities and starvation. I’ve seen a few local restaurants and large corporations help food insecurity by sending unused cooked food to homeless shelters. Those are the organizations I cheer from the sidelines.

So the amount of food we waste while going out-to-eat doesn’t help our environment. I’ve even found myself throwing out newly tried recipes after a few days. That was two weeks ago, when I tried out a new recipe via my slow cooker. I only ate one meal with it and couldn’t convince myself to eat the next two meals I would’ve gotten out of it.

I’ve even begun to make sure I take a to-go box home when I go out-to-eat. It’s a rare occasion for me, but I’ve saved money by taking home a meal. I do plan on investing in a reusable to-go container to keep with me, to also reduce the amount of waste in styrofoam or plastic containers.
On the days I do have to use those plastic take home containers, I do reuse them for gardening or as trash containers themselves (since most of them aren’t recyclable in my area).

I have to be careful about what I make for lunches for my days out to school and work Monday thru Friday. Last semester, I was really terrible at throwing out my lunch without eating a bite! This semester, I’ve done well at making sure I eat what I make. Most of the time, its either soup or sandwiches.

This is my favorite thing about reusing these jars to store bulk baking supplies: labeling! My Mom got me a label maker for Christmas and it’s been a lifesaver to staying organized.

Pantry Challenge

Last Wednesday, I wrote a challenge for all my readers to evaluate what you consume and waste. This week, I’d like to add a second challenge to your repertoire: pantry challenge.

About three to four times a year, I don’t go grocery shopping for two to three weeks and use every food item I have in my pantry. The last time I went grocery shopping was on Wednesday April 3rd. I don’t plan on going grocery shopping until next week (Wednesday, April 24th) at the earliest. Tomorrow. my grandmother will be visiting me here in Oklahoma City for a couple of days and we plan on using some of what’s in my pantry to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For example, I have two boxes of mashed potatoes that I have yet to use. Maybe its because they are large boxes, it’s difficult to convince me to make them just for me. So we plan on making a few unique dinner sides with the mashed potatoes and herbs mixed in.
The last time I did this challenge in the summer, was in June-July 2018. it was more successful than the trial I did in October later that year. At one point, the three shelves of food was completly empty and I was still working through unique foods I could make with the abundance of baking supplies I have!
In October, I focused on clearing out my fridge so I could unplug my fridge and let everything melt while I was gone for three days. I’m considering doing this again in June, when I go to a family reunion trip for three days.

So far on my pantry challenge, I’ve already racked up a grocery list for the next time I need to go grocery shopping. The pantry challenge becomes easier every time because I am able to continue to buy only what I need. The one item, for example, I don’t want to let go of is cereal. I love it for the weekends when I don’t want to spend too much time focusing on my breakfast meal cooking and prepping. BUT a box + plastic bag = extra unnecessary waste! When I do get to return to the grocery store next week, I plan on buying my cereal in bulk. One plastic bag = 1 less cardboard box. It’s also cheaper to buy most of your foods in bulk and you can properly store them in cute reused glass jars and containers.

A very awkward photo of me out in my hammock on campus a few weeks ago. I’m using this photo to show you the container of bulk nut mix I snack on during the week days. Did I mention how much I love this medley? ^.^

Advice for the Pantry Challenge

  • Swap out healthier options when you have the money to. For example, use the last of your regular sugar and brown sugar and then look into healthier options like agave and substitutes you already own in your kitchen. Honey, maple syrup, apple sauce and a few more comes to mind.
  • Buy what you need, not what you want. This also goes with other shopping categories, but yeah. Do you really need the single-use guac or can you make your own, or buy a large bulk container to last several events?
  • Let’s talk about orange juice. I recently bought a orange juice concentrate to use later this month to make “homemade orange juice.” Since we can’t recycle plastic containers, the metallic casing is easier to recycle. While it’s not guaranteed to recycle, it’s better than throwing plastic to the wastelands. I’ve begun to take an inventory of what single use items I bring home (apple juice and grape juice containers) and will begin to phase those out of my pantry.
  • Start cooking creatively. One of my bulk items I’ll replenish on my next trip is cinnamon. I use it in practically everything, from baking, waffles, adding it to my oatmeal, to hot drink mixing. I have a spinning spice rack I use to store all my spices that are in reused glass jars. Some spices I plan on not using again after is done (turmeric and chili pepper, I’m looking at you).
  • In the summertime, I enjoy going to the farmers market on Saturdays. Peak business time to buy fruits and veggies. While I do have a garden on my patio, its off to a late start. The weather hasn’t been the best for growing food in containers so far into this spring season. I’m looking forward to buying my seasonal foods at the farmers market this year, for sure!

Meal Planning is a MUST

I used the last of my printed meal planning sheets this past week and I’m not gong to be printing out any more pages I’ve started to use my online sticky notes via Google Notes to document my meal planned meals. Breakfast is simple for me, but its lunches and dinners I need to plan the most. I make my lunches the night before and pack them immediately in my lunch kit to prevent myself from forgetting to make lunch; leading to buying lunch on campus and causing waste.
Meal planning is one subject I write about every couple of years and I would suggest checking out these blogs I’ve written in the past about meal planning and food budgetting.

Living Alone & Meal Planning

Becoming a Vegetarian


Check out the button above to read last week’s Earth Mini Series v.2 post. Thanks for reading today’s post and I’ll see you guys again Wednesday!

Cheers,
Danielle

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