One month has officially passed since I started the “Local, Sugar-Free Eating while Wasting Zero Food Resolutions” and I thought I would give an update on how it’s going.
All in all, it’s going well. There have been some slip-ups as I’m getting the hang of this, so I wouldn’t say that any of them are particularly “easy” resolutions, but I haven’t suffered too much so far.
Local, Sugar-Free Eating while Wasting Zero Food
There is sugar in EVERYTHING! I even found it in my much-loved garlic salt. When it comes to cooking I have been avoiding recipes with sugar and sticking to making as much from scratch as possible. I even went through my pantry and pulled all the tomato sauces and pastes that had sugar to donate to our local food shelf, while replacing them all with the slightly more expensive, but better-for-you options with zero sugar. The hardest part has been watching others enjoy chocolate or ice cream without me… Don’t doubt that every Dairy Queen I pass right now is calling my name.
I’m not going to say I’ve been perfect- my husband ordered the most delicious looking banana french toast for breakfast the other day. It was slathered in whipped cream and some sort of incredibly syrupy sauce… I may have had a bite- but I swear it was only one!
This has probably been my most educational and eye-opening experiment/resolution. I knew sugar was in a lot of items, I just had no idea how many. In starting to read every single food label before I use it I’ve been more and more turned off my processed foods- even ones without sugar have far too many unpronounceable ingredients, it’s scary!
Zero Food Waste:
There have been five unfortunate accidents of wasted food this month in our home. The first two were restaurant leftovers that were brought home but then never eaten. One was a case of trying something new and not really being a fan of the flavors from the get-go and then second was some dipping sauce that was left out overnight.
We also had to toss out some Almond Milk that had been in our fridge since November and had passed its expiration date, as well as some Chestnuts a friend brought us that we were “saving for a special occasion”. Unfortunately they grew moldy before that special occasion arrived.
I’ve learned that I need to use ingredients that I have- don’t save food for ‘special occasions’. One of my habits has been to ‘hoard’ the food that I have canned or preserved from the Spring and Summer, like morel mushrooms. Unfortunately with that attitude I never use things up, and like the chestnuts they eventually will go to waste. So I have taken on an attitude of using everything that I have and enjoying it NOW. So much so that I have already run out of my dehydrated morel mushrooms for the winter. That will just make me appreciate hunting for them in the spring all the more.
On the flip side I have repurposed everything I possibly can into new meals, or other uses. For example, every year I switch out the box of baking soda from my fridge. Well I certainly can’t use that for cooking, so I put it in the garbage. After feeling guilty about it for a minute or two though I grabbed it out of the garbage and decided to try using it to clean my stainless steel sink. Low and behold it was a miracle worker! It did a better job at cleaning the sink that most of my cleaning products- plus it’s environmentally friendly! I used the peel of a lemon to wipe it down first, to get that nice citrus smell, and then sprinkled baking soda everywhere. 10 minutes later I returned and wiped it all down with a rag to
I also am giving my freezer a workout, putting leftovers away to freeze when I know we won’t get to them during the week. That way we have something to look forward to down the line- and I get to look forward to a day of not cooking/planning!
I joined my local food coop which does a fantastic job of saying where each and every meat and fresh produce item originates. I’ve been able to find local tomatoes, mushrooms and cabbage, which is honestly more than I had expected. While a good sale of eggs was tempting I resisted and have only been buying locally grown eggs and meats as well.
We’ve been eating a lot of what we grew and canned over the summer and fall. Enjoying the bites of fresh flavor and quality that you can only get from eating local produce. Our frozen surplus of blueberries and raspberries from last spring is finally getting the attention it deserves from our bellies- even sprinkling them on fresh salad greens for that hint of sweet.
I knew when I started this resolution in the dead of winter that it would be the most difficult one to accomplish. I am giving myself a fair amount of leeway with most ingredients here with incredible awareness as to the distance said ingredient has had to travel and/or the level of manufacturing something had to go through to get where it is today. Mostly I am planning-tracking usage and figuring out how to resolve the problem in the future: starting this spring and onward.
Since I am no longer doing the “food hoarding” that I mentioned as a problem for food waste I have been able to start tracking my actual usage of ingredients. For example, I now know that I need to double my efforts in the morel mushroom hunt this spring if I want to have enough to last me for the entire year.
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