I am working on an experiment in our home this week. My poor family. They bear the burden of all of my crazy ideas, plans and projects. This is a good one, though. I am seeing how many decent, healthy meals I can feed my family based on only what we have on hand. Some of this is based on my own laziness and recent aversion to shopping at the grocery store. It is also based on an article in this month’s issue of Outside magazine.
The article, Eating Right Can Save The World, takes a look at the environment impact of eating meat, poultry, fish and a vegetarian diet. Take a few minutes and look at this article in this link. It really set me to thinking, not only about the food choices, but the waste and the impact of food waste, on our pocketbook and our environment. I will warn you that if you are a strict Paleo eater, you may take issue with the article. The author is not a fan of how much meat we are consuming. Here are a couple of his points:
Eighty percent of the world’s agricultural lands are allocated to animals, either for pasture or to produce food for them. More than 20 percent of all water consumed is used to grow grain to feed livestock. A 2013 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization study estimated that livestock accounted for 15 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions, about the same as the entire global transport sector. Other analyses, which argue that the UN estimate doesn’t adequately account for things like the CO2 produced by the respiration of tens of billions of farm animals, estimate that livestock might be responsible for up to 51 percent of global emissions. “Meat is heat,” environmentalists like to say.
The average American currently packs away a staggering 185 pounds of meat a year, the equivalent of more than eight ounces a day. Yet the USDA’s 2010 dietary guidelines recommend just 3.7 ounces of meat per day—about a palm-size burger—which comes out to around 84 pounds per year. Eating the recommended amount would mean a 55 percent cut in meat consumption.
He also points out problems with Aquafarming and says that vegans aren’t perfect either and takes a look at locally grown foods and organic foods. My big takeaway was the point of waste. That strikes a chord with me. I have always hated waste. I think that comes from my grandmother who would melt all the little leftover bars of soap back together to make up one bar of soap. She would save those little pieces that My Husband leaves in the shower for me to throw away . . .
Anyway, here’s one thing about this he says:
The second strategy: waste less. In the U.S., 40 percent of food—worth an estimated $165 billion—is thrown out every year. It’s an environmental and social-policy tragedy. According to the USDA, which in September announced an initiative to try and cut American food waste in half, the average family of four trashes two million calories a year, worth nearly $1,500. As a result, 25 percent of America’s water is used to produce food that is never eaten, and an estimated 28 percent of the planet’s agricultural land is used to grow food that ends up in the garbage. Food is the single largest solid-waste component of America’s landfills—an estimated 80 billion pounds—and emissions from it are equivalent to the greenhouse-gas output of 33 million cars.
Therefore, this week I decided to see how well I could do with wasting less. Throwing less food away. Shopping less to buy more stuff that would go bad and be thrown away. I thought I would see how I could use my brain and be creative and save some time, effort, and money in the process. You may be far ahead of me on this one. You may not ever throw away uneaten, out of date yogurt containers, mushy bananas, soft apples and liquified greens. I am striving to be you!
So far it has been successful. Today I am on meal three and it looks and smells delicious! This is how it has gone. Sunday night was homemade pizza night. I made a new whole wheat thin pizza crust (recipe coming soon!) with marinara sauce. I had leftover sauce and italian sausage in the refrigerator.
Yesterday I decided to see what I could do with the leftover sausage and marinara. I had a box of mini bow tie pasta in the pantry, so cooked it up and added it to the sausage and marinara, cooked and heated together. I spread the mixture in a casserole dish and had a quick and good Baked Ziti. I served that with a side salad and called it good.
Today I pulled out the leftover pasta not used in the baked ziti and added it with some other things on my counter. It looked like this:
I used these ingredients that I had on hand to make a wonderful, healthy vegetable soup. I know a lot of folks are eating detox and cleansing foods and soups this time of year. This soup would fit the bill for a detox soup (without the leftover pasta!)
WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP
1 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced carrots
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can drained and rinsed black beans
1 can drained and rinsed garbonzo beans
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 14 ounce can rotel tomatoes or diced tomatoes with peppers
4 cups sodium free chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 cups cooked pasta of your choice (optional)
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp black pepper
4 cups of chopped collards, kale, or spinach
Heat up a large pot over med-high heat and add olive oil.
Throw in onion, carrot and celery and cook for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
Add in garlic and bell pepper and cook for 1 minute.
Add in beans and cook for another minute.
Top with diced tomatoes, broth or stock and spices and give it a stir.
Bring to a boil and then let simmer, uncovered over med-low heat for 25 minutes.
Add in greens and pasta and cook until greens wilt.
Keep warm until ready to serve.
This soup will keep in the fridge for a week and any leftovers can be frozen for later!
Waste Not Want Not! My grandmother would be so proud!
How are you with food waste? Are you good with leftovers? Do you consider the environment when planning foods, diets and meals?
Stay warm out there!
Enjoy Your Day!