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Recycled Food: How to Eat Cheap without Being a Dumpster-Diving Hippie by Café Casey

Stashed in: Simplify, Home Sweet Home!, Life Hacks, Ecology, Personal Finance

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Americans waste food in a big way.  We also eat way too many things out of boxes and bags.  "Recycled food" is my way of trying to cook efficiently (which really crosses over into the "Once a Month Cooking" philosophy) and reducing waste.  

Still, I often get the "if I had your time," argument to which I say "You do." Eating clean doesn't have to be that complex.  It simply has to be intentional. 

I like the concept of transforming whatever is leftover into something new. 

This is a regular theme on Chopped. 

If the object is to waste less, I have to plan well.  Often times, I can’t keep up with the food that’s about to spoil.  With a little creativity I can preserve these things for later when they’ll be the star of their own recycled food show.  Nearly anything can be dried, frozen, or mashed for later.  Black bananas are perfect for smoothies, pancakes or banana bread.  Toss them in a freezer bag and say, “Nice save!”

Good intent and actions are separated by several degrees, even if someone does it once... probably more so if someone tries it once, they will be discouraged from trying it. 

Eating clean and healthy does not have to take a long time or be obscenely expensive.  You do however have a lot of up front effort in learning what/how/why/when of things in the kitchen, on the plate, and at the store for dividends to pay off.  That said, once a person or couple decides to work through these roadblocks, they will feel more satisfaction knowing that they are better for doing it, and then a week's worth of food can be purchased for a couple at the store for $80-150 a week and prepped from cart to plate in under 6 hours for the entire week.  that's less than an hour a day for all of the food you will be eating through the entire day for 5-7 days depending on your situation.  I have commitments on weekends so I can't always prep meals for the last 2 days or they become snacks for the following week. 

If I realize i'm not meeting a goal i'll put the food in the freezer until the day before I will need it.  this weekly food deal is the only time that big box stores like Sam's Club and Costco actually prevent waste in my experience and from what I've read, buying in bulk doesn't help prevent waste or save money because "you" end up buying more than needed and it goes bad or is forgotten or you eat more because it is there.

That's true about bulk anything--I notice people use eighty million times as much if they see a big bottle, jar, or gallon... everything from shampoo to snacks.  I store things accordingly.  And it really is more of a discipline to prep things ahead... doesn't have to be the whole week but if I cook an ingredient I can reuse--rice, potatoes, I have some carmelized onions from a soup that I doubled and separated, they'll become an egg dish tonight...  It's just changing the thinking a bit to save time and cook from scratch.  The food's tons better... 

Seems like a real tradeoff between cost to buy, cost to store, and cost to think about how and when to prepare and consume. 

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