Friday, April 03, 2020

Eliminating Food Waste

  With bare grocery store shelves around the world, it is time to pay close attention to how we manage the food supply in our homes.  In order to stretch things and make what we have last, we need to be wise and industrious like the woman in Proverbs 31.  It will take a new measure of strength for us to navigate this current situation, but I believe God has equipped us to do it. 

"She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.  She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night...She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."
~Proverbs 31:17-18, 27

   As things get more and more serious, I am really doing my best to avoid wasting anything in the kitchen.  This takes planning and being mindful of how I do things.  I thought I would share some examples of what I am doing in the event it might help someone else.

  Colton and I are coffee drinkers, but we generally don't have more than two cups each per day.  We have cut back to one and this is honestly plenty for us.  I make them individually using a pour over system and this ensures that no coffee is left over or wasted.  Doing it this way actually makes a gourmet cup of coffee, so it feels like a luxury instead of a sacrifice!  I use a reusable Gold Tone filter that I bought earlier in the year ($6 on Amazon) so we no longer have to buy paper filters.  The used coffee grounds will start going in the compost pile for my garden.

Pour-over Coffee Method

 Other than coffee, we generally just drink water.  We did have some juice that we purchased on sale, and Colton stretched it by diluting it with a little water.  We are not used to things being super sweet so we don't mind this.  Now that it is heating up in our part of the country, I will start making iced tea on occasion, but I will save it for when Colton is home and able to enjoy it with me.  I have spearmint growing in a pot, and this is good for adding to water and tea for flavor.

  Breakfast time has been pushed back to about 10am, and supper has been moved up to 5pm.  We started doing this when Colton wanted to try intermittent fasting (supposed to be great for health and weight loss) and it worked well for us.  This way we eat two big meals and a light snack mid afternoon, instead of three meals per day.  This also allows us to get to work in the garden before it starts getting too hot.  Colton and I have our coffee and John has his milk first thing and then we can get started with our day.  The exception to this is that I will give something to John to hold him over until breakfast if he is hungry, but generally he is just ready to go outside!

  For breakfast, eggs are obviously the top choice since we have chickens.  But the other day I realized that it is also important how I cook them.  For example, frying them takes more oil than scrambling them, so scrambling them it is.  If I use a cast iron or non-stick skillet, I do not have to use my scouring powder like I would with my stainless steel pans when I wash them.  When I fry bacon, I always save the grease to pour into a jar that I keep in the fridge.  I use just a small pat of this in the pan when I scramble my eggs.  It also makes the best biscuits you've ever tasted if you substitute it for the shortening in your recipe! 

  I have also started saving the egg shells.  After rinsing and drying them, I put them in a jar.  These can be crushed and given back to my chickens as a calcium supplement or added to the garden.  I have also seen instructions for turning them into calcium powder for human consumption so I will be looking into that.  Nothing is being thrown away!

  Bread is a great filler and can really stretch a meal, so I have been baking it in some form or another almost daily.  I made biscuits for breakfast one morning to go with our eggs, but we did not eat the whole pan like we normally do!  (Yes, we really like biscuits.)  We had a couple each for breakfast and the rest were saved to be warmed for supper.  We put jam on our biscuits but not butter like we usually do, and they were still delicious. 

  That is another thing.  As these are not plenteous times, we have to pace ourselves.  We are used to always having an abundance of food in front of us, which is a blessing, but I think this sometimes tempts us to keep eating even when we are no longer hungry!  To combat this, I have started fixing (dishing up) everyone's plates before we sit down to eat.  Another option would be to set food aside for leftovers before even putting it on the table.  I can assure you that I am giving generous portions, everyone gets a balanced meal, and no one is leaving the table hungry, so please don't think I'm withholding food from my family!  My family's health, nourishment, and well-being are of the utmost importance to me and this is just one way I am making what we have last.  

  Meal planning is probably the biggest way to eliminate waste.  Use fresh items first before they go bad, and check the dates on your canned goods to make sure you are using up the oldest food and rotating it properly.  If milk is a little past its 'use by' date, use it to make biscuits or pancakes, or freeze it to do so later.  Leftovers can be turned into other meals, or parts of other meals.  If there is not enough of something for everyone, it can still be saved and we can have a choose-your-own-leftovers night.  The homemade herb bread above was served one night with spaghetti, and the rest of the loaf was used the next day for grilled cheese sandwiches.  One side of the sandwich was spread with butter, as usual, but the other side was spread with bacon grease reserved from breakfast.  It was delicious.

  The crumbs from the cutting board were not brushed into the trash, but into a bowl I am keeping in the refrigerator for the chickens.  This is where the scraps go, although with very little waste, there are consequently very few scraps! 

  And some scraps I am keeping for us.  For example, I keep a Ziploc bag in the freezer for vegetable scraps.  Peels, trimmings, etc. go into this bag for when I make bone broth.  It adds extra nutrients and flavor.  When I thinned my carrots the other day, the chickens got a few of the tops, but most of them were washed and added to my bone broth bag.  Yes, carrot tops are edible!  They taste a lot like the carrots themselves and can be chopped and added to soups or salads.  I dehydrated a bunch last year for this purpose.

  I am keeping another bag in the freezer for making soup.  This is where that one leftover spoonful of peas goes, or the tomato sauce that I rinsed from the jar gets dumped.  When I decide to make soup, this bag will be added to the pot.

  Before I toss something, I just ask myself if there is anything I can do with it.  Potato water (the water that potatoes are boiled in), for instance, can be used in bread or cooled and poured onto plants.  If you aren't sure about something, just Google it!  I also save my butter wrappers and use those to grease pans before baking.

  I hope this gives you some ideas.  It really does take a different mindset and we have to get creative.  If you have any more tips, please share them in the comments!  We are all trying to get through this strange and difficult time.  



  1. Dear Kelsey,
    I had to smile when I read this post because we are doing many of the same
    Things including the one cup of pour over coffee brunch, a late afternoon
    snack and dinner. It works very well for us. Your biscuits !Lok so delicious and just jump off the page.

    Some of the things I do is to skim the fat after roasting a chicken and render fat that is trimmed from beef. From fresh cauliflowers the core is saved and used with bone broth to make a creamy cauliflower soup that tastes like a potato soup. I often add nutritional yeast to it for a cheese flavor which conserves rea! cheese.
    Did you know that the tops of radishes are also edible? I usually saute them and mic them in with rice or millet. We are stretching our butter letting it soften and the beating in a half cup of olive oil to 2 sticks.this makes it spreadable so less does the job.
    I have been making confectioners sugar by putting regular sugar in the high speed blender and adding molasses to white sugar to make dark brown sugar. In order to co serve eggs since we don't have chicks if the recipe calls for no more than two eggs I make flaxseed eggs to use as a sub.
    These are strange times and with God's help we will get through the . Many blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Kelsey and Cookie!!

      I am smiling, too!! I am finding, because I get busy working in the morning, that I eat about 9am or so. Today, I had a little something about midday, and have just had a meal before the late afternoon shift out shepherdessing the chooks and sheep, which need to be guarded outside their normal yards!

      I no longer drink coffee, but I am with you, Kelsey, on using eggshells. I hope to use clean eggshells (simmer them to get any egg white out for the dogs), dry them, powder them, and add glycerin and herbs (or whatever is available) for toothpaste! I have heard of the other uses for eggshells, but not yet tried them!!

      I find myself making up interesting and satisfying meals, and I am trying to put on weight!! I just had toast (from free rye bread) with peanut butter, chopped shallots/spring onions (I bought them to grow the bases in the new garden!) and poached eggs sprinkled with macrobiotic sea salt (which I highly recommend!). I poach the eggs because that does not require butter, and the eggs are beautifully soft this way! Oils, though, are important in our diets as unrefined oils, so I have bought extra virgin olive oil and peanut butter for putting, uncooked, onto meals.

      I am also interested in foraging at home, where we are allowed to be. I have found that I have a large patch of edible ferns. The rhizomes are edible raw or cooked, and the shoots are also edible cooked. I have not yet dug up roots from the little vine called ‘wombat berries’! I look forward to trying both of these!

      I run on a tiny, portable battery power hub, with a little car fridge/freezer, so I do not keep things frozen! Ha ha! I recently found milk on sale (surprisingly!), and used vinegar to make it into ricotta, and then turned that into ravioli with a ricotta-parsley-egg filling (the last two ingredients grown at home).

      I now have fresh mint, basil, oregano and thyme growing inside the house! Tomorrow, I am starting my kitchen garden for the cooler months, using sheep and goat manures. The loofahs that I have growing in sheep manure, from gifted plants last spring, are producing well now, and I think that most of them will be used for food instead of scrubbers! Ha ha!! They are supposed to taste in between cucumber and zucchini, which sounds good to me!

      I can recommend using a grain mill to turn chook wheat into light, soft flour! While baking is not as fluffy as when using white flour, the food is very satisfying. Even gluten free grains could be ground economically this way! I have had a season of making pancakes instead of bread. This uses less butter/oil! I also tend to make dumplings, pasta and even Victory Vicky’s egg dumplings. We can use yeast instead of baking powder for dumplings, too!

      I am looking to make lye water from ash when the fire gets going in the cooler months. This is for laundry! I would also like to use this method for making lye for soap making (ash from hardwood makes soft soap, being high in potassium, while ash from soft wood makes hard soap, being high in sodium!!) Funny!!

      I love, love your post, Kelsey!


    2. Dear Cookie!!

      Yum! Cauliflower soup!

      It’s lovely to find you here!! Ha ha!!


    3. Cookie, thank you so much for the wonderful tips you shared! I especially like the one about how to stretch butter. I had not thought about radish tops, but I do have some in the garden that are just about ready to harvest and I will be doing as you suggested. Also, thank you for reminding me about nutritional yeast, as we have some in the pantry and I actually forgot about it!

    4. Rachel, you are quite resourceful! Thank you for sharing what you have been doing. Colton and I have talked about foraging, and just the other day I was thinking that I might learn to make lye. I guess I should learn to make soap first, though, haha! But with things being hard to find, my thoughts turn more and more to what I can learn to make myself without relying on the store.

  2. All great tips! It is nice to think of you all out in the early morning tending your garden and chickens! Little John is blessed to learn these things young and to be able to have that time everyday with Mom and Dad.

    We pour our milk into glass and it keeps up to a week longer. Fresh goes into clear glass and we have a green bottle that old milk goes into for cooking. I picked up very old juice bottles from thrift stores a few years ago for this purpose. Our coffee maker makes one cup at a time and grinds the beans for each cup so there is absolutely no waste and we do not use any filters. We do one cup a day and it is plenty for us. You can stretch a 12 oz can of cheap frozen lemonade concentrate by using 7 cans of water and adding a half cup of sugar. We have a lot of tea bags on hand from past sales so we are good for tea for a long time. Grocery supplies seem almost normal here now except that you cannot find everything at one store. But, Aldi has always had gaps in their stock so that is nothing new. I think our supplies may be better than some areas because we have an inland port in our county. Goods come straight off ships at the coast and onto trains for the trip here. Then those containers leave here for many other destinations. I have never been so thankful to hear all those trains in the night. I think this time is good for us all to rethink how we manage our kitchens and homes. It is easy to fall into a habit of thinking that oh, this is only a few pennies worth and it won't matter if it goes in the compost or trash. Our biggest enemy right now is fear! None of us have gone hungry although we may not have what we wanted to eat like in the past. There is also no reason to think that this is going to go on for years.

    1. Thank you, Lana. Yes, the mornings are a wonderful time and John is always so eager to help in the garden!
      I love the tip about the milk. I prefer glass to plastic anyway.
      Grocery store shelves here are not as bare as they were before either and that is a comfort to see. There are still items that are difficult to find though, and with limits in place, while I understand their purpose, it can be particularly hard on larger families and business who need more than a family of our size. It is difficult to tell how long this will last from an economic standpoint, but I'd say eliminating waste is a good idea regardless! It is definitely an eye-opener, that's for sure.

  3. These are fantastic ideas. I never knew about the coffee filter. I must order one of those! I've also been trying to be more mindful about waste in our home.

    1. Thank you, Mandy! The filters come in cone or basket shape, as well as different sizes. I use the cone for my pour over coffee, but I also have a basket style for the regular coffee maker. It doesn't take long for them to pay for themselves!

  4. Hi! Just checking in with haven't posted in a bit, just making sure all is OK.



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