Wendy Thomas – Simple Thrift
Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Pay attention to how much food you throw away
I am officially appalled by how much edible food we, as a family, throw out. In the last week, we threw out 4 pounds, 6 ounces of food. The national average, as reported by an article in the New York Times, is 244 per year for a family of eight, or 5 pounds per week.
That means that we are dangerously close to a number I find to be disgusting. What a waste. What a complete waste of resources and, oh, the expense of throwing away good food.
Our total so far for the month of May is 6 pounds, 15 ounces. We are below the national average but not by much. Granted, our food is not entirely wasted, as everything that is not dairy or meat goes into the compost pile, but still, I’m simply shocked to see that we threw out that much edible food. I had thought – especially by paying attention to the matter – that we would come in at a much lower number.
So how did we fall so far away from grace last week? One huge mistake was when my husband, Marc, made some garlic bread using thick slices and walked away after he put the bread under the broiler. Result? An entire loaf of heavy, burned, blackened, very weighty and non-edible bread.
Another mistake that sent us over the edge was a culinary mistake of mine called Cowboy Stew. All was going well until I added ricotta cheese to a baked bean, ground beef and corn stew. The kids said that the cheese made the stew look like something the dogs were known to do on occasion.
The younger kids wouldn’t touch the stuff, and while the older kids ate it, they drew the line at multiple days of leftovers. We ended up throwing away 1.5 pounds of the stuff.
We have two more weeks to go with weighing our edible refuse. I’m hoping that paying closer attention to the preparation of our food will help bring down the numbers for the remainder of the month.
Tips from a mom
This being the week following Mother’s Day, I thought I’d include some thrift memories from my mother who was a young girl during the Depression. I’m sure many of you have similar stories (and I’d love to hear them).
Thrift for my mother was not a trendy thing to do but instead was a way of life. Many of her thrifty lessons live on in how I run my household today:
“Dad and I both went through the Depression. My parents had a large garden and chickens, so we always had food. Mother would can vegetables for the winter. Eggs were used for lots of meals. Potatoes, cooked with corn, were always good served with a vegetable. My grandparents lived nearby. They had a big garden, also, and cows, so we all had milk, cottage cheese and, every once in a while, Grandma would make butter. Long Island Sound provided lots of fish, clams and mussels.
“We all walked to school and came home for lunch. No buses or places to have lunch in school. Everyone was poor, so no one felt poor. I remember being in the kitchen when my parents had a big discussion on whether to spend 25 cents to buy taps for my dancing shoes for a recital at the Klein Memorial. This was a lot of money, but they finally decided to buy the taps.
“We all helped and did many chores. The one chore I hated to do was to help Dad clean out the chicken house every week. I hated it, as the chicken lice would get on my arms. Dad said, ‘Don’t worry, chicken lice do not like humans and they will leave soon.’ They did, much to my relief.
“Dad killed a chicken every Sunday, and Mother was able to get many meals from a chicken. Finally, he came into to house and said, ‘Teddie you have to stop naming the chickens as it is now too hard to kill them.’ ”
• – THEODOSIA LYONS,
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