Friday, October 01, 2010

Conspicuous wastefulness

This week the TODAY show has featured a family of five whose grocery bill averages under $300 a month, and as the mother said they eat good things--beef stroganoff is one I remember she mentioned. They are however dedicated frugalists--one of the grown daughters said she is amazed at the money her friends spend on jeans when she knows she can get a pair of $10. The grocery bill is kept in check by a lot of work--menus are planned ahead for each month, every day; coupon clipping and bargain hunting are serious business. Bottled water? Never. There are, according to the dad, a lot cheaper ways to drink good water. It struck me that living frugally is their passion in life, just as writing is mine.
But at the other end of the spectrum, today I cleaned my freezer and threw away a garbage sack of food--freezer burned things I couldn't identify, odd bits and pieces of bread. I'm pretty good about using FoodSaver and labeling, so I also discovered lots and lots of meals in there--a bit of buffalo meatloaf, still edible; a lamb chop; a full chicken breast; some marinara sauce. Three containers of ground Parmesan (I consolidated, as I did with bacon), and Jacob and I could eat hot dogs (Hebrew National) with buns for a month should we desire. Still throwing out food, even if I knew it would never get eaten, made me feel guilty, considering all the hungry across the world.
My mom lived through the Depression and never threw anything out, to the point in her later years my brother and I were discouraged to find jars in the back of her fridge with a nice crop of mold. She also saved and reused aluminum foil and paper towels--she had a special place where she kept slightly dirty paper towel. In their second use they mopped up spills on the floor. She used to accuse me of being too quick to pitch tiny bits of leftover, but I think there's some of Mom's frugality in me and that's why I stick bits of things in the freezer.
One of Mom's saving ways I used to follow when my children were young was soup of the week. Got a bit of leftover casserole? Some spaghetti sauce? Keep a pot in the fridge, add all those leftovers, and make soup once a week, adding a can of tomatoes or some boullion or whtever's needed. My soup of the week was always brown, which puzzled me. The kids remember it, perhaps not always favorably.
Along with cooking more meals for myself rather than grabbing tuna, I'm going to eat up my frozen foods and keep better control of my freezer. Ah, the best intentions . . . . now it's time for a pimiento cheee sandwich, with that cheese left from last night. Can't let it go to waste.

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