hoarding food

I cannot believe how much frozen and dried/canned food I have….

I have decided lately that it has been time to start consuming the food I already have at home.

A quick inventory showed that I have frozen beef, bones (for stock), chicken, cooked meals, green beans, mixed veggies, bread, bread crumbs, zucchini, carrots, and celery sticks, and another set of green beans, in addition to phyllo dough in my freezer. If I was to consume them, I believe they would be enough for two months or longer…..

Another inventory, this time of the pantry showed that I have a lot of rice, bulghur (cracked wheat), dry beans, dry eggplant, dry peppers, dry okra, dehydrated soup, pasta, other soup materials, lentils, many cans of beans (which I love), canned soup, tomato paste and others (not counting around 20 kg of flour). Another month or two’s food…..

I am making an effort to consume these before they expire or go bad. I must do that to limit my food consumption. I have stopped buying frozen food, beef-chicken, and dried food for now. My plan is to not buy any of these items till I consume the half of the stock….

I must admit it is boring to think that I must eat what I have.

Why is that?

I have been trying analyze this and I realized that I like to buy and stock up food. I guess it makes me feel good about myself. I think I feel safer that way. I should also mention that I like the pleasure of choosing, buying, and storing them. Was I subjected to famine in the past life? (just joking – I do not believe in past lives 🙂 ).

But when they are not consumed and hoarded like this, the entire fun starts to diminish…

There are important lessons that I have learnt along this process.

Some of these food, like chicken, is not something I regularly consume. I will never stock chicken again – when I want them I can purchase fresh ones and cook whatever I want. But no more hoarding.

Freezing veggies (by blanching) is a great idea and I enjoyed doing this. But I must make mental notes to eat them after that. I started blanching and freezing veggies to limit my food waste. It is sad to see that unless they are eaten, they are still wasted….

The same goes with the frozen meal. I have 4 containers of chicken soup… What was I thinking? Since i do not enjoy eating the same food more than twice a week, that means, it will take me a month to fully get rid of them…..

I want to have a practice of cooking at least one meal using the pantry/freezer treasures (a.k.a. hoarded food) every week. i started this last week and it is going well.

Honestly, while it is valuable and gives me a sense of security, the food I have is too much this time. I really gotta find a balance of a healthy level of stocking  food up and consuming them 🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

The minimal spending plan till the holidays is continuing. This was a great week in terms of spending my weekly allowance frugally (covering grocery, transportation, weekend breakfast, and other little daily expenses).

The additional shopping and taking advantage of the deals are also continuing, meaning money is spent now to save money over the long run (what an interesting thing to say….).

My fun funds are nowhere near being positive, which is bothering me. Hope to lift it up above $0 before the new year 🙂

—————————————

Expenses within the weekly allowance: $48.5

Fun funds (left-over from the weekly allowance): $120 – $48.5 = $71.5

Fun funds expenses (my discretionary spending): $80

Total fun funds accumulated to date: -$53 (yes, yes… it is a negative balance. no, no…. this is not great…)

Other expenses: a hefty $238.5, $100 of which is made for sewing supplies and notions

Savings from sales, transportation, and other expenses that I would normally do but have chosen not to this week : $222.5 (at least that is a good number; i could as well spend all of these. I am glad I have not..)

————–

Overall, I am benefiting from the “minimal spending plan” – it helps me to consume what I already have, which is awesome (also helping with limiting waste and food hoarding). Since I still have lots of fresh and dry/canned/frozen food to be consumed, I think I will be fine with continuing with this plan for some time.

I will slow down with my other expenses and am not planning to make any stocking up or additional shopping for personal care or cleaning products (other than for sewing-related needs) .

Let’s see how the next few weeks will go ahead 🙂

limiting food waste

If you have not done so, please check on the internet about how much food we do waste (example links here and here). The numbers are way too big.

It is so appalling that we do that…

Considering how many people would benefit from these food that are dumped into the garbage and then to the landfill..

Considering how much we would have saved by not purchasing them or by consuming them later.

Considering how much food would become affordable if we have not inflated the purchase chain unnecessarily.

I must admit I too wasted food; not in big amounts but I did. I bought green produce and then before I could cook, they have gone bad; That mostly happened to me with parsley and other herbs.

For some time now, I am taking control of my food waste. Here are some tips; hopefully they will be useful to you. If you have other strategies to limit waste, please drop a line in the comments area so that we all can benefit from them 🙂

1. Do not buy what you do not need: This is probably the best strategy to limit the food waste. if you are a fan of meal planning, then go ahead and continue with it; my understanding is that meal planners only purchase what they will use in their meals for the week. Not everyone is benefiting from this, like myself. In my case, grocery shopping as needed is the most effective way to limit food waste (my advantage is that the store is 5 min from my home – I understand that this may not be possible for many of you.)

2. Eat what you have: Prepare your meals around what you have in the fridge, prioritizing the products that are still fresh or about to go bad. Note that nutritionally, the fresh and minimally processed food is the best. Make sure you consume the food while still in great condition. If you do have produce that is about to lose its vitality or to pass its best before date, prioritize them for consumption.

3. Organize your fridge and pantry: Every time you shop, take a moment or two to place the previously purchased food at easier to see and reach shelves. Then place the new ones on a separate shelf or behind the previously purchased food. This way it is easier to consume the old produce first.

4. Freeze the extra food: Some people may have deep freezers that may be very useful, too. I do not have one, but I do use the freezer section of my fridge. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies for later use. This is particularly good if you had catched sales and ended up with a larger amount. Pickling, preserving, and drying up the veggies/fruits are other alternatives. One of my friends dries up her unused herbs. Some others freeze them in ice-cube containers to be used later in soups or meals. I heard brewed coffee being preserved this way (to be used later as ice coffee – what a brilliant idea!).

5. Share it with others: Why not to share those extra items with your family, friends, neighbours, or poor people? This is always a delightful activity. Go ahead and share them, especially if you think that these people are in need, whether because of financial hardship, or death or sickness that can hit any of us anytime.

6. Choose the dried or canned alternative: This I find is most useful for me in the case of herbs. Do net get me wrong; the fresh herbs are great and I think they are more nutritious. But those like dill that I do not use frequently, or mint that I can hardly find fresh here are my dried herb queens. i am not in favor of using canned food too much, but canned tomatoes and other veggies may be a handy alternative, too.

7. Store your bits and use in vegetable stocks: It is not uncommon that only a small piece of a veggie or fruit will remain lingering in the fridge. What to do with these? keep a container in the fridge just for this purpose; collect all the bits before they go bad, and prepare a vegetable stock to be used in other dishes (soup, meat meals, rice and pasta etc.).

8. Store your bits and use as puree or dip: My favorite is to puree these bits; yep. Boil in water and then put through a blender to have a nutritious and rich paste; this can be used in other dishes. Amazing how well this feels; I am preparing one with leek leaves, lettuce, and green cabbage tomorrow to use in an eggplant dish. Try also as dips; yum!

9. Invest in freezer containers and bags, blender/processor, and other kitchen gadgets: Let them help you in this journey – they are worth it.

10. Take inventory every once a while and consume the food: Do not forget to eat those dried up, frozen, canned, or otherwise stored food!! I see myself doing this time to time. I guess I love preserving food, but hey, I gotta remember eating them, too. Remember, even frozen or canned food can go bad.

11. Make a mental note of not wasting food and be an advocate: All behavior is shaped by our thinking. Please take a moment, reflect on the benefits of not wasting food, and feel great about all the steps that can be taken to reduce this unnecessary waste. Reward yourself time to time, if that is going to positively enforce your behavior. Be a teacher and advocate and inform others about the negative consequences of food waste and the ways to limit it.

on conscious spending and being “cheap”

I should thank the financial hardship I have had since I bought my house almost two years ago; it did force me to have a hard look at my finances and my spending habits. I should also thank the bloggers who share their stories and their useful tips, and support me with their comments and kindness through this journey.

Like any other endeavor, it was hard to deal with the emotions resulted from the financial constraints and it was also difficult to implement changes required to stabilize my finances and keep my spending lower. After 4 months now, I am happy to see the positive progress in my life, as budgeting did not only helped me to understand myself and save my money for future (whether for retirement or house-maintenance and other unexpected expenses), but it also helped me to limit wasting; from food to books to household items to clothes/shoes.

I have been always interested in keeping a modest life with modest material (such as furniture or attire). I have never been interested in showing up by owning “material”. I have never been interested in having the latest technology at home or the trendy clothes. I do not have a car and I do not plan to have one. I always lived close to my workplace so that the commute would not be an issue. I always shopped and stocked up when items were on sale. I knew my limits and I knew I wanted to save and invest for my retirement, So debt and wasting have never been a big deal in my life.

Yet, it is true what they say; as I started making more money, I started to have more waste. Sometimes it was the fresh produce that stayed in my fridge for long, sometimes it was a jacket that I bought, which I later did not like and did not even return back to the store. It was the cab drive in the morning and the evening that I thought I deserved well. It was the unnecessary generosity with socials. It was the books that I bought every week that made me so joyful.

I have changed now.

I do grocery shopping as required to limit the waste. It is only possible that there is a big grocery store 5 min away from my house.

I have spending-freezes that I started with on books, which I later extended to others. The nicest thing about these freezes are they are temporary and as such they never make one feel deprived. Another positive outcome is that it becomes a habit before you realize it; for example my 2-months shopping-freeze on books was initially planned for 2 months, but later I extended it till the new year. It also simplifies my life; I do not need to think about buying such items regularly.

I started to notice and make use of the coupons, discounts, and loyalty points. I am not an extreme couponist and I do not think I will ever be. But when I see a product with a coupon, I ask for it to be scanned (sometimes the coupons are stuck on the package and they need to be scanned at the cashier to be applied to the sale). The coupons and deals are there for the customers and I am a customer myself; so if I am eligible to get it, I will get it.

I designed my meals around the on-sale produce each week. This substantially reduced my spending.

I explored different stores and identified those that have better prices. I look at their flyers every week (not too many stores; maybe 3-4), which does not take much of a time of mine. I hardly miss a sale that includes a product I will need in future, even though I do not need it now (toilet paper is a good example of a product needed continuously).

I started shopping at thrifty stores for items such as jackets, shirts, and purses. I will probably never buy shoes, underwear, or pants from these stores (I cannot bypass the possible hygiene issue). I am amazed by the affordability and the good quality of the items there. Plus, I am contributing to the recycling of material and helping the ones in need with my purchases. That is a triple-win.

I decluttered my house and I gotta see what I have had. I have had a lot of stuff, which I had forgotten. Especially the food in the pantry and the cleaning products. I felt an extraordinary amount of abundance that is still lasting.

I called my credit card company and got my annual fee to be waived for this year; I will call them next year, too.

I hinted to my cable company that I was not happy with the prices and I could cancel it. They later offered me a much better and cheaper plan, which I gladly accepted. It is for 3 years and I will be saving around $500 each year.

I prepared sandwiches and snacks for my trips to limit both expenses and unhealthy food consumption.

I let a friend of mine paying her portion of the meal cost, rather than me paying for the entire bill.

I have better appreciation for every single item I have now. I was good at being grateful for everything I had, but now I am better. I was good at re-using items (such as using the shopping bags as garbage bags), but i am better now (e.g. using the old clothes as mopping cloths). I was good at not wasting food, but now I am better (e.g. freezing the extra diced onion to be used later).

There is a pleasure coming out of all of these. Knowing that I can do and am doing a lot better to protect my money and limiting wasting of food and other items. This newly found pleasure is the one that makes me keep going. I have some new plans to reduce my spending further, which I will articulate in the coming days. Exciting! 🙂

I still struggle with the idea of “being called cheap”, though. I have a respected profession, I am single and have no kids, and have a decent salary. Hence, people expect me to be doing well and being generous….

I am concerned that if other people knows that I shop at the thrifty store or if I tell people that I am happy because I got my credit card fee waived, for example, then they may look down on me. One of my colleagues did not understand why I called the credit card company and asked for a waiver. I understood her as I was like her in the previous years; why should anyone be concerned about and make a phone call for a $120?. But I should not feel cheap. I rather should feel like if they give these discounts to others, it is my right to get it, too. I feel like we are even now with the credit card company, as for years I stayed with one credit card and I have used it for every purchase.

I like to share what I know or learnt with the people around me. But maybe the lesson I should get out of my conversation with my colleague is to not tell people about my frugal experiences.

There is a difference between being a frugal person and being cheap. I have never let others pay for me at the socials; I never borrowed money that I did not later pay back; I never stole; I never did dirty tricks to confuse or take advantage of people or the systems.

I am not cheap; I am solely a happy frugal who consciously spends and protects her money and gets an enormous hope and pleasure out of it 🙂

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: