And I mean ALL of the things.
Sunday morning my breakfast was: leftover leftover tuna a la king* (leftover from dinner the other night when we had it over pasta, which was frozen leftovers from when I made it fresh and we had it over rice), on top of a free bakery roll (from a massive bag of leftover rolls from the Australia Day bbq/ceremony in town that my DP volunteered at and brought home to save them from the bin - because he knows that would have given me frugal nightmares) with sliced (from the cheapest largest Coles brand block) tasty cheese on top. I toasted the pre sliced roll under the grill while warming the tuna a la king in the microwave then popped it all together with the slices of cheese and stuck it back under the grill (on an oven safe plate because who wants dried out tuna stuck to their grill rack?).
Can I tell you it was delicious? Even though I did not want to have tuna a la king on a roll for breakfast this morning? Even though I really wanted pancakes? Even though I was sick of seeing the container of leftovers in the fridge guilty me with "why am I still here" vibes? Even though it didn't look very appetising because I'd use red capsicum when I originally made it, so it was a weird orangey brown colour?
Folks, it was soooo amazingly delicious that I savoured every last bite. And then I revelled in the feeling of pride for doing something I did not want to do but that I made successful in spite of that. I'm was happy about this that I treated myself to second cup of (instant) coffee.
I'm sure many of you are familiar with the phrase to "eat all of the things". Especially if you follow along with any frugal/zero waste/simple life ideals. The reasons to eat all the things are many and varied but most cover the basics like: it can save you money, it can save on food waste, it can save on time. After reading a post on the Frugalwoods blog about this subject I have been re-invigorated to really try and do this hard core. Not that we waste a tonne of food but there are some things which I regret having to throw out or compost.
One of the big areas in our (as in me and DP's) food waste arena is ingredients. I look at Pinterest A LOT people. Probably too much in fact. As I happily pin away recipes for low-carb breads and biscuits, sugar free treats and so on, I spare no thought to the special ingredients that I will have to buy to make said recipes. Later I will add them to the shopping list, buy them and maybe use them once. Maybe not use them at all. Then one day I'll be looking at the stuffed to the gills pantry and crying "there's nothing to eat in here" (like the wardrobe dilemma).
So Phase 1 is to stop buying "special" ingredients. I've been working on simplifying our menu so that planing, purchasing and prepping is easy and almost automatic. For my regular recipes I do not need any fancy ingredients and therefore will not end up with weird ingredients in my pantry that I don't want to or don't know how to use (and don't want to spend hours of research finding recipes to use them - I'm one of those people that spends/wastes? hours doing "research"). This step also includes stopping myself from pinning non-basic/simple recipes and perhaps a declutter of my Pinterest boards.
Phase 2 is to use up any special/weird ingredients I already have. If calling spelt or steel cut oats weird offends you, I do apologise profusely. I only mean that they are strangers to me. They may be essential food staples in YOUR pantry and that's okay. You do you and I'll do me. So if i'm not going to spend time researching how to use these special ingredients how will I know how to use/cook them? As most of them are substitute ingredients like rice malt syrup I can use them up in my day to day cooking. For anything that I really have no clue I will allow myself to have a very quick look for one recipe to use the item up. No pinning 6 recipes for besan flour!
Phase 3 is to cook less. Whaaaaat? Yes, I need to cook smaller quantities. While I love leftovers and could eat something five nights in a row, freeze some of it and later eat it for another five nights in a row my dear DP could not. And that's okay because we are all different and I am growing to realise that I must judge less and compromise more especially with those I care about. So back to the Tuna A La King recipe. It makes a lot. So I froze the leftovers in one container but then had too much leftover defrosted leftovers. Do you get what I mean? In this case the solution is actually to freeze smaller portions as the recipe is not worth reducing but in other instances I just need to cook a bit less. Maybe just so there's one other dinner or lunch for both of us leftover which can be eaten the next day or so or frozen for later. Most of the time I cook too much of a side like steamed veggies or salad. This is less easy to use up because salad goes soggy and the veg is usually only a spoonful not another sides worth. So I need to think a bit more when I'm preparing these sides rather than keep chopping on auto pilot. And perhaps keep in mind some ways I will use any minute leftover veggies.
Phase 4 is to label, label, label. I am actually getting better at this already. I use washi tape (the cheap not really true washi tape type) and a permanent marker to label my containers. The washi peels off without leaving an annoying residue which is great but the wastage of washi is a bit bothersome. Even though it's the cheap stuff, it will run out and I am not buying cheap washi ever again! I did read recently that chalk markers (that cafe's use on their boards) will stay on plastic lids in the freezer and then wash off in the dishwasher so this might be a good alternative. Will look at investing in one at a later date. I have also been keeping a list of the main meats and meals in the freezer and any bonus meals or ingredients that accumulate like some cooked sausages that I can use in a hot pot later on. This is really helping me use what we have rather than buying it and then discovering that I didn't need to!
So that's my plan to eat all the things, saving money, waste and time in the process. What do you do to avoid waste in the food arena? I'd love to hear your ideas.
* Tuna A La King is a Quirky Cooking Thermomix recipe (which I can no longer find on her site - insert sad face), I guess it's a bit like a mornay without the cheese? It's one of my faves because it's easy, ultra fast, cheap, freezes beautifully and is adaptable. You can make it meat-free, with tinned tuna, with chicken or pop in some leftover cooked meat - you don't even need that much to add to it.
Side Note: here is an article about various thermo cookers if you are curious as to what they are/do. It was written by an Thermomix publication but I think it's a pretty well rounded, not too biased article. I myself have the original TM31 which I am very happy with.
Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash