Waste Not, Want Not

Even before the coronavirus struck—when I could go to the grocery store without fear of contracting COVID-19—I was mindful about food waste. I tried very hard to use all the food we had before it went bad. However, if I’m going to be honest, I have to admit I was not always successful. (Remember what Yoda said about try.)

Mostly it was because I’m not very organized. Some people have a lazer-like focus when it comes to keeping track of what’s in the cupboard and the refrigerator. I am not one of those people. Sometimes food in containers would get pushed to the back of the refrigerator, and when I finally opened them, I would recoil in horror at what I saw. The last few slices of bread would get tucked behind the brand new loaf, and green grew the mold.

But a pandemic has a way of focusing the mind, and now I am absolutely focused on every bit of food that is in the cupboard and refrigerator.  I want to put off going to the grocery store for as long as possible, and I don’t want to waste any of the precious food we have.

This picture tells the story of my old ways.

I bought these rosemary crackers last summer. The fresh date is August 2019, and they were 50% off. I had never had Carr’s rosemary crackers, but I have had other Carr’s crackers and have liked them a lot.  I also like the taste of rosemary. Because the crackers were on sale, I bought several boxes, probably not a wise thing to do if you have never tasted a particular kind of cracker.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. These are probably my least favorite of Carr’s crackers. I don’t hate them, but I certainly don’t love them either. We did go through two boxes, but the box above languished in the back of our closet pantry.

Until last week. When I was going through our food, I found the box and put it in the front of our food cupboard. Yesterday I had some of the crackers with some leftover cheese.

Believe it or not, the crackers are still crisp and are not stale at all. If they had been stale, I would have used a trick I learned from Clif’s mother, who grew up during the Great Depression: Put the crackers on a cookie sheet and bake them at 350° until they are crisp again.

I will be having the crackers again today for my lunch, and even though I’m still not wild about them, I will repeat the process until they are gone.

I am truly sorry that it took a pandemic to make me more mindful about wasting food, and I hope it’s a lesson I don’t forget when this terrible time has passed.

Coronavirus News from Maine

From centralmaine.com:

The Legislature approved a supplemental budget package worth about $76 million Tuesday, with funding earmarked to help the state respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

The package includes funding for the Maine Centers for Disease Control to beef up its workforce, increased rate reimbursements for those working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, additional funding for adult education programs and job training, and another $38 million for the state’s public schools.

And perhaps most important:

The bill also expands eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers impacted by the virus, while also eliminating the one-week waiting period for benefits to start.

From Maine CDC:

Maine’s number of cases of the coronavirus: 43

From NBC:

Gov. Janet Mills issued an Executive Order Wednesday mandating a statewide ban on dine-in service at restaurants and bars, as well as a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people effective Wednesday at 6 p.m.




38 thoughts on “Waste Not, Want Not”

  1. We have all kinds of leftover cans and boxes of things bought on sale, and they go to waste sometimes but not much. I am still confounded by the possible viability of a few jars of pasta sauce, unopened, and of a kind they no longer make (since Muir changed since then to poor-quality other stuff)–but they’re a few years old. They may linger forever at this rate–

  2. Maine went from 0-43 in a split second it seems like. Any fresh food that was left over always went to the chickens. Now, I’m assessing it quite carefully. I ate some grapes at lunch and cut around any soft spots. Can’t waste because I want what we have to last as long as possible. I’m glad I’m old enough to remember my grandmother making apple pies and when cutting up the apple she just cut the bad spots out and moved on. 🙂

    1. Very fast! Part of that is increased testing. Part of it is that’s the way this virus spreads. This virus is certainly teaching us some lessons. Not all of them are bad. I hope we listen and learn.

  3. My sister lives in London she went to her local supermarket this afternoon at 3pm. She told me that ALL the shelves were empty of everything apart from jars of things you wouldn’t really want, like gherkins. No fresh fruit or vegetables and the shop said they had already restocked the shelves twice and could not keep up.
    Many shoppers were left empty-handed.
    I have a horrid feeling that a lot of what is being bought in complete panic is going to rot at the backs of cupboards and fridges.
    Have sense people – please!

    1. I just went to the supermarket here in rural France this morning and, despite there being a bit of a panic on Monday and Tuesday morning to stock up before the lockdown started at 12h on Tuesday, today the shelves are more or less full and people seem to be shopping normally. There was even loo roll! A lesson for the Brits (of whom I am one) over in the U.K. who aren’t even on lockdown yet. Don’t panic – the shelves can be re-stocked, the food supply chain is fine for the moment and if everybody stays sensible there shouldn’t be any need to stockpile.

  4. I threw out a container of year old cream cheese today. Didn’t think dairy would stay good that long. I often cook something extra long instead of paying attention to the phrase ” when in doubt, throw it out ” It kills me to waste food!

    1. I don’t like to waste, either, but all too often I’m preoccupied with story ideas and writing. These things aren’t bad, but I need to broaden my concerns.

  5. Interestingly, I don’t like rosemary in crackers or bread, so I think I might know how you feel about those crackers. Still, they are no doubt enhanced by cheese. I’m eating everything from my fridge, leftovers first, and trying to keep track of food in the same way you are.

  6. Don’t be too worried about us Londoners, where I live there is plenty of fresh food though dried and tinned food was in very short supply.

  7. The moral is to live very close to a shop so you can buy what you need when you need it. My very close shop has moved though so I may end up with unused stuff.

  8. I hate wasting food as well. My way to avoid this has to do small, frequent grocery shops….up until now!’
    Great tip about rebaking crackers to restore their freshness. I’ll be trying this!

    1. Yes, until now! Time to focus on food and making every bit count. As I wrote in my piece, I hope I can continue this after the coronavirus has passed, whenever that will be.

  9. I have had the same thoughts. Tonight I made tacos. There were four tiny little pieces of tomato that didn’t get eaten. I saved them because I don’t know when I’ll be able to get a fresh tomato again.

  10. Laurie, I suspect we’ll all make changes during the pandemic. Increased awareness is a good thing, but it can be hard to sustain. That said, real changes can and will stick, so good for you. A neighbor bought us some toilet paper today, and I’ve never been so grateful for such a simply thing. We were down to six rolls, and with both my husband and son now working from home full-time, we’re going through it faster.

    I can’t believe I’m posting on your blog about toilet paper usage. Crazy times indeed. Wishing you good health and an anecdote to boredom. Maybe we can start a petition to move the election to June instead of waiting till November. We need good leadership now more than ever. xo

    1. What a peach of a neighbor! There are good people doing good things. As for posting about toilet paper…these are the time that try men’s (and women’s!) souls. 😉 Yes, new leadership is essential. I hope we get it in November. Stay safe, be well!

  11. My Dad shared memories of the depression in the 1920’s and 30’s, He and my Mum lived through the second world war and neither of them ever lost the habit of being frugal! I learned from them plus I have some very old cookery books and some more modern reprints of wartime ones. Years ago vistors complained that sorting waste here was too complex – one bin for chicken food, one for stuff the dogs could eat, some for the compost heap…. Between local shops which are getting stocks in and my garden plus foraging (nettles and wild garlic are just coming up and make a delicious soup) I may have to be creative but I will be fine. because I easily get snowed in I always keep good stocks of the basics.

    1. Your parents lived through some tough times and developed some excellent habits. Now it is our turn, and I hope we can follow their example. Glad to read you will be fine. We will, too. For me, it is the mental anxiety that is weighing on me. I know this is completely normal and I will work through it. Indeed I am working through it. Writing certainly helps because that is what I do. Stay safe, be well!

  12. I’m trying to be very careful about what I buy at the store during this time to not waste anything, but I’ve already discovered a few new things that I purchased that are not favorites, but I’m determined to give them another try.

  13. This is a very familiar incident. We also regularly discover all kinds of food items that are way past their sell by dates. I always feel guilty throwing stuff away.

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