week 2: using up what’s here

Before we can really eliminate our waste and switch to more reusable storage & packaging,
we have to use up what’s already in the pantry.

For the next two weeks, we’re sitting really well & are really lucky. A few weeks ago, two friends’ move to NYC left us with a lot of extra food in the pantry. (Plus, there was that taco mac & cheese from last week.) We put it to work this week, and we also decided to clear out the freezer to make room for the ripe tomatoes I’ll be turning into sauce (hopefully). Some meals will be less thrilling, but isn’t that always the case?

Ok, ok. It’s already happened (again) this week. We ordered a pizza. It was supposed to be a last go-out-with-a-bag date in, celebrating a few things. Wow. Both of us felt completely terrible afterward. Completely. I think I phrased it as “hitting rock bottom with our diet.” Joe quickly put this in perspective: We’ve just finished catching up on Breaking Bad. We have no idea what rock bottom really is. Or maybe we do.

So I think we can do it. We can officially swear off pizza.

Anyway, we’ve made other progress this week–just buying stock-up/replenishing ingredients. Hmm. And cheese, but I made a conscious choice to buy the cheeses in reusable containers rather than cheese in any sealed-up plastic wrap. We’ve also been cleaning out the fridge, focusing on produce from our CSA and fresh, homemade wheat breads. Though the price tag has stayed higher than anticipated, there were a lot of unusual expenses this week–eggs, baking goods, coffee & teas.

I still feel like, in spite of the price tag & pizza, we’re a step ahead of last week. There’s a lot of food processing going on. As I type, tomatoes are well into phase two of this tomato paste process. Herbs have been dried. Squash has been roasted. Zucchini has been frozen. We’ve been packing in the whole, fresh ingredients & have just a few wrappers & bits of who-knows-what in the trash.

Compost has proved to be more challenging than expected. We need to be more vigilant about getting to the community garden plot we rent. Because of the rain, we’ve been skipping visits. That means we’re not visiting the compost pile either. So, our kitchen counter compost bin is filled to the brim. A second pile, wrapped in a green produce bag from the store, is hidden in a corner of the kitchen. It’s gathering gnats like, well, an open pile of garbage. It’s now full, and I’ve resorted to putting produce trimmings in the trash. This is something we need to work on immediately.

I had a coffee with a fellow foodie earlier this week, a girl studying nutrition who was intrigued by this project. I immediately fell in love with her tumblr, particularly where she explains her diet philosophy (and shared this video from Dr. Terry Wahls). We had great talks, and I was completely inspired by her simple approach & amazing success with a whole foods diet.

It took this honest conversation over coffee–sharing where our love of food & health came from–to remind myself why I’m really doing this. Do we need things that came in a package? Are they providing us the nutrients in their best form? Could this even shrink our consumption of tofu & tempeh–to reduce processed, conventional grains AND unrecyclable packaging? So many exciting food adventures to come.

We’re not going vegan by any means, but we’re realizing that this
project will have diet implications we weren’t expecting. Cheers to that. I feel like next week, we’ll be right on track for our dream diet. (That is, if Joe doesn’t sneak of to Bloomingfoods for biscuits & gravy again… Cheater.) To keep us motivated, I’ve been adding loads of fun recipes to my recipe storage board on Pinterest. Check it out if you want something fun for dinner–I see us caving in for the fish & chips sandwich soon.

The Real Question

That’s right–these posts will each be coming with a question to get us all thinking about how we relate to our food. I’ve talked a lot about our failures–and I can sum it up in one word: PIZZA. After our terrible reaction to our latest impulse order (both physically & emotionally stomach-turning), we’re determined to only have homemade. (Even if that means upping my dough-making to two nights a week.) What do you feel is the biggest guilty pleasure in your diet? What could you do to feel better about it?


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
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4 Responses to week 2: using up what’s here

  1. Pingback: week 2: using up what’s here | francofile

  2. ccarwein says:

    Megan, I don’t mean to discourage your enthusiasm by any means, but (just as an fyi) you only have to post personal project updates periodically throughout the semester. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to try and keep up, but if you find this to be too time consuming to do every week then feel free to only blog about your project every other week or so. Oh and I have to comment on the ‘trip chains’ link… it recommended only making RIGHT TURNS!!! I thought that was hilarious! Like we are all Nascar drivers or something!?!?! HaHa

  3. meganbetz says:

    No worries, Chad. I’ve been blogging for years, so I’ve just moved my normal blogging to this location for the month. I’m used to blogging twice a week, so I’ve split this project up to fit that model. The categories will help my classmates just pick out the posts they need 🙂 Thanks!

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