Change the World Wednesday, Oh Boy

This week’s challenge, from Reduce Footprints,  is about waste, but there are two issues connected in this one challenge. I’ve got the first down, but still working on the other one.


So what is this week’s challenge: Watching our portion sizes.

This week, monitor food portion sizes and cook accordingly. Even if you are cooking once for more than one meal, pay attention to portions and resist cooking more than necessary, which often leads to waste. Need help determining portion size? This SITE will give you a general discussion on the topic with some clever ideas on how to determine a proper portion. The CALORIE COUNTER is a search tool. Type in the food you want to make and it’ll bring up calories associated with various servings sizes … the first listing is typically considered a proper serving. The idea, here, is not to restrict calories or in any way “diet”. Instead, we are educating ourselves on portion sizes and then cooking just enough so that we eliminate food waste.

Are you up for this challenge? I know that you are!

I am trying to lose weight, nothing new, but having less mobility has caused me to gain weight and I’m struggling to find that happy balance between what my body really needs and not starving myself.  I struggled when my boys left home to only shop for one person. After feeding two teenage boys and their friends/girlfriends, I got used to buying quite a lot of food.  Then when it was only myself it was hard to figure out just how little I needed to buy.  Fresh produce was the hardest.  I wanted a variety of fruits and vegetables in my diet but some foods aren’t sold in small enough quantities, say a bag of grapes for one.

Just don't rely on prepackaged options for portion control.

Just don’t rely on prepackaged options for portion control.

I’ve done better about the vegetables, this winter I am growing my salad greens in the front window, I’d show you but I am just starting another batch so there isn’t much to see. I need to learn to reseed before I run out.  This saves on waste as I only clip what I intend to eat. Fruit is a bit harder, but now I freeze what I can’t eat before it goes bad and use it in smoothies.

Same with my meals.  I often prepare more than I will eat and divide it up to freeze in serving size portions.  I must be doing something right because I have very little in the way of food scraps frozen for the spring compost.  Mostly onion and potato peels, along with apple cores and fruit peels.

Do you  have a system in place in your kitchen to reduce waste?

46 thoughts on “Change the World Wednesday, Oh Boy

  1. My daughter gave me a pretty container for storing compost to bring out to the pile. I use it daily for produce waste, eggshells, and coffee grounds. I’ll be building another compost container this year, for easier turning of the pile.

    • Jean, I don’t have a pretty container but can only imagine how nice it must feel for you. ;-) I went out this weekend to check the gardens and the areas I buried my compost is so rich, like black gold. Are you going to experiment with the straw bales again?

      • … The store I used last time went out of business. Very sad, as they were a big family business here in the twin cities. I think I will need to travel to a rural feed store this autumn. So it’s back to my square foot gardens this year.

          • Quality is key. The cheap bales I got produced almost nothing. The better bales produced more and decomposed like they were supposed to.

          • I think I’ve noticed, since the popularity in straw bale gardening is growing, that places are charging high-quality prices for low-quality bales. Easy to do to we folks in the cities who wouldn’t know a straw bale from a humongous shredded wheat! Then again, before I started this, I didn’t really pay attention to straw quality, so maybe it’s always been that way.

            Quality is key, though. I learned that the hard way.

          • I have trouble eating in my basement apartment due to spiders and dampness bugs. I don’t want to use pesticides because of my cats.
            I creep out from insects!
            I’m using a strong all natural spray cleaner in my sinks each day to stave off crawlies that love to scare me when I go to do chores. Spiders and other insects taste with their feet. The natural spray in my sink is safe around my pets, and is potent to critter tastebuds!
            I have dinner with my mom at her place often :)

    • I have made my own produce bags from a set of sheer curtain panels. They work well at the farmers’ market but not so well any more at the store. I asked my son to pick me up 2 single potatoes when he last went. He returned and before she let me see my purchase apologized and said he looked for ones without packaging. Turns out every potato in the store sold individually was wrapped in aluminum foil. Guess I need to wait a few more months for fresh potatoes now.

  2. Excellent inspiration Lois. Thank you! These are things to consider with all our meal prep: managing portions and reducing food waste. Using smaller dishes is a secret I’ve been using with hubby & me for a while (younger son who’s still at home – 21 – has hollow legs and doesn’t need portion control). And I am quite conscientious of keeping food wastage as close to zero as I can. It is a worthy goal we all need to work towards. Thanks for this great motivation! Cheers, Gina

    • Gina, I had a boy like your son. I have no idea where he put it or why he never gained an ounce. He was the only one on the wrestling team that never had to “make weight”.

      I use that technique of the smaller plates as well. I don’t really have a big appetite so using the smaller plate to judge how much to make helps. I had some food waste yesterday. I forgot to package and freeze some leftover pineapple, so I packaged it and froze it this morning and will feed it to the compost when spring arrives. Not ideal but at least it won’t harm the environment.

    • My mom was a magician at making meals from barely anything. She had 7 mouths to feed (including hers and my dad’s).
      I learned that magic trick when my daughter was growing up! Living on a major budget! Use it all up, and if you can’t in one night, you have to get creative for the next night with it!

  3. Hello Lois, Great post! I hate food waste! I often serve leftovers for a second meal, also freeze them. Lately I’ve been freezing extra portions for an elderly friend who lives by herself and does not always eat enough healthful foods. She is so grateful and it’s an easy thing for me to do.

    • Carol, how nice of you, I’m sure you friend really appreciates it. I have a neighbor who when she sees me outside in the gardens all day worries about me enough to bring me a plate of food she made for dinner. I appreciate the gesture and enjoy taking a break to visit with her while I eat and knowing I don’t have to cook when I leave the garden and am tired.

  4. Well… hmmm… I’m not sure I like this challenge at all. I generally cook WAY more than I can eat for intentional leftovers because there’s no way I’m cooking 3 meals every day… just not gonna happen. I almost NEVER end up tossing leftovers.

    Although as I write this I realize that I did actually toss some stuff this week, but it was only because I did a bunch of cooking before Sputty died, and then after he went I somehow couldn’t bring myself to eat it because it reminded me that he was no longer here. It makes absolutely no sense, but oh well. Barring any other pets, family members or friends kicking the bucket in the near future, I think I should be safe on that front.

    • Cat, I hate to cook anymore so I do the same, making huge batches. When all I had was a fridge I got so tired of eating the same thing every day to use it up I needed a new solution. Enter the freezer. :-)

      A bit of food waste during the week you lost your Sputty is to be expected, and I know how careful you are about waste normal.

      I thought of you Sunday night as I watched the Super Bowl. All that came to mind was that nothing was going to go right to boost your spirits. I’m sorry about the loss.

      • Oh man… that totally sucked, didn’t it? It was sorta like the die was cast after that first play,,, poor little Mannie Ramirez (the center) I know he just felt terrible.

        But, CatMan’s analysis was that up until that game, Peyton had been able to make up for all of the injuries – seriously, I think we’d lost something like 10 starters. But eventually that’s gonna catch up with you. You just can’t expect to handle that sort of pass rush when you’ve lost several all-pro offensive lineman, and the starters that are still playing are playing through injuries so bad they can barely walk. Oh well, it was a fun season.

        And I’m totally with you on the freezer thing. I learned that trick many years ago – it’s so wonderful to be able to just open the freezer and pull out a meal – like homemade fast food!

        • I felt for Ramirez. I saw an interview with him where he took full blame and said he never heard Peyton call for the snap, when Peyton moved up to change the play it was because the ball hadn’t been snapped and that’s when he thought he heard Peyton and snapped the ball. Obviously a noise issue. I couldn’t get over how many of the fans were from Seattle, it really did sound like a Seattle home game.

          My son was so angry about Denver’s loss because he’s tired of hearing questions of who is the better quarterback, Manning or Brady, he believes Peyton is better by far.

          Hopefully next year will be better for both Denver and my Steelers.

          • I heard Peyton interviewed and he basically took responsibility saying that he should have gone with the silent snap count from the very beginning. Obviously the crowd noise took everyone by surprise.

            So the past two days the local news has been covering some celebrity golf tournament that Peyton’s playing in, and the big story is that he was paired up with Bill Belichick – anyhow, one of the local sports anchors kept calling him “Bill Bellyache.” I thought it was hysterical.

            Well, let’s hope for better luck next year for both of our teams… at least we beat New England! :-)

          • Bill Bellyache, I like that. :-) I heard a lot of good things after the game about Peyton. He’s a good man I hope he returns next year as I heard it’s up to his doctors whether or not he can continue playing. Did you hear that?

          • Yup – both to the fact that Peyton is a good guy and that the doctors get to make the decision. I actually think it was built into his contract that way. But given how well he’s done, and how much his arm strength has improved, most folks here are expecting a clean bill of health.

            I think the bigger question mark is Champ Bailey. Champ wants to keep playing, but was hurt most of the season and only got to play a few games near the end. So hopefully they can renegotiate the contract and hopefully Champ’s body will cooperate.

            And… with any luck we’ll get all of our injured players back next year too. Guess we’ll see…

          • I wondered if Champ Bailey would be back. We were hoping Denver would win and Champ would get his ring before he retired. The way we saw it Seattle is such a young team they have plenty of time to make it back to the Super Bowl.

  5. I’ve been irritated since they started putting grapes into bags.There are too many for most people to use before they go bad. I freeze them sometimes, but don’t always want to do that.

    Otherwise, regularly doing a complete inventory of what’s in my fridge has worked best for me in cutting down on waste.

    • Bagged grapes were an easy way to pick up enough for my boys to eat but no, for me there are too many in a bag. I’d have to eat less variety in my diet if I were to buy bagged fruits in general.

    • I work in the produce department of a supermarket. Take the amount of grapes that you want out of the bag that it came in and put it in the plastic bag that’s on the spool. Grape bags are usually open or have a zipper on them that should be halfway open. We aren’t allowed to close the grapes in the supermarket I work in.

      • Thanks, I will do that the next time I need to resort to the grocery store for my produce. I carry produce bags I made from sheer curtains so it’s not a problem to find a way to carry them, but I thought we had to purchase the entire bag to get the code for the cashier.

        • Does the scales in the produce department print out tickets? Find out. But I don’t think it really matters. Just tell the cashier that they are red grapes and they have a scale up at the register. She retrieves the code up at the register. :D

    • Y’all are totally killing me with your grape comments. Here’s a plan… y’all just take all those grapes that you can’t eat and send them to me! Seriously, I buy the biggest bag they’ve got (well, actually, I often buy two or three) and it lasts maybe a day or two.

      Hmmm… maybe I have a grape problem. I have been suffering from serious withdrawal since there haven’t been any organic grapes in the stores for a few months and I have total pesticide paranoia with the conventional ones. I think I need a 12-step grape program!

      • Sorry about that. :-) I haven’t had grapes since summer either as we don’t get organic grapes here ever! I have to go into the city or get lucky enough to find them at the farmers’ market.I can eat about half a bag, in a day but then I’m not eating any other fruits which causes something else to go bad. If I buy raspberries, bananas, grapes, etc. I have to figure out which needs eaten first and hope to eat it all before it goes bad.

        I’m with you on the pesticide paranoia, which is why I am trying to grow as much of my own food as possible now.

  6. Luckily, my husband likes to eat leftovers for his lunch the next day, otherwise, I’d often be wasting food. I struggle to get the right portion size. I either make too much or too little it seems and then the boys are filling up on cereal after dinner. I don’t force them to eat more than they want though. I have too many memories of being last at the table, struggling to finish mushy, overcooked vegetables. Growing your salad greens in the window during winter is a great idea as is freezing your fruit. My stepmother bottled her left over fruit for many years and it was great eating plums and apricots in the middle of winter.

    • We had one to two leftover days when I was growing up, but with boys I never had leftovers. No matter how much I made they were hungry within a couple of hours. Just wait until you have to figure out how to cook just for two when your boys move out, that was the hardest adjustment for me.

      Like you I was the one who had to sit at the table being forced to eat something I didn’t like. I never did that to my boys either.

      When you say bottled, do you mean she canned them?

      • I was forced to sit at the table also. I hated instant mashed potatoes and my mother would make me eat them! Ewwww! They are still gross! Hehe.
        We had leftover nights as well :)
        I absolutely loved my mother’s leftover spaghetti :D
        I do have some waste in my refrigerator from time to time. If I don’t use up my bread fast enough I bring it to the birds in the parking lot where I work :)

        • The food I refused to eat was cabbage boiled in apple cider vinegar then plopped on our plate, We each were given 1/4 of a head of cabbage cooked this way. I still have problems with the taste and smell of apple cider vinegar because of that. When I use it I have to brace myself for the onslaught to my senses.

          I prefer real potatoes, but don’t mind instant if forced to eat it, although I can’t tell you the last time I was served instant potatoes. I don’t go out to eat often and when I do it’s usually at one of my children’s homes where they refuse to cook anything but real potatoes.

          Bread products get fed to the birds here too.

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