Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waste Not Want Not

I've enjoyed cooking since I've been in Boston. I go to Trader Joe's once a week. Going to TJ's is a highlight of my weekend. Not joking. It's only a block and half away, so no big deal if I forget something and need to go back. Generally, my goal is to spend about $25-30 per week on food. You may think that's crazy, but I'm just one girl! Everyone says cooking for 1 is next to impossible, so I've made it a game to see how possible it can be. I go with the flow of my schedule. Some weeks involve more exciting meals than others, but I don't want to fall into a trap of eating crap. In all my efforts, the miraculous thing is that I've been wasting almost nothing.

This is possible for a few reasons:

1. My mom let me raid the pantry for canned goods before I left home, so I have a lot of canned beans, veggies, soups, etc. I've mostly been taking advantage of my bean stock pile. Beans are good in just about anything! Veggies and soups will come in handy when it's cooler out. I can't say this has saved me tons of money, but it helps. A dollar here a dollar there. I guess maybe this shouldn't even make this list except to say that it never hurts to have a well stocked pantry. Being that my kitchen is small, there's not room for a huge stock pile. If I have beans and rice on hand, I can always make a meal of that.

Fresh mozzerlla, roasted pepper, basil, & balsamic.
2. Cookbooks and Pinterest! One of my best friends gave me one of the Cooking with Trader Joe's cookbooks. If you would like Trader Joe's to be your store of choice, I highly recommend getting one of these cookbooks. The recipes are good. Some you will never need to look at again, because the recipe is crazy easy. The best part is that the books make you aware of what Trader Joe's has. There are things I would have never thought to look for, but end up being favorites!  For instance, I would have never looked for the pre-marinated chipotle chicken breasts which are good for tacos, quessadillas, and freeze really easy too!  I also really like the mozzarella sandwiches. Talk about an easy recipe. Is this even a recipe? Any leftover baguette make for nice French toast! I love looking through my cookbooks and Pinterest for inspiration each week. I often find ideas that use up things I already have so that I only need to buy minimal extras to complete the recipe. For example, I didn't realize that I have everything I need to make zucchini tots, but I do! Yay!
TJ's rosemary chicken & potatoes

3. Meal planning. To each his own, but meal planning is kind of critical if a) you want to shrink  your grocery bill and b) you want to NOT waste food. I really enjoy my little meal planning note pads that have collected over the years. I wouldn't say my meal planning is terribly detailed, but it helps me make a list. This week's plan had one of my new favorites. The frozen rosemary chicken and frozen potatoes with mushrooms and green beans from TJ's has become a go-to meal. Usually ends up enough for 2-3 meals and total cost is $5. My rule of thumb is to plan 2 real meals and one packable salad or lunch type of thing.

TJ's mustard cheddar mac n' cheese.
4. My last tip for NOT wasting food is to experiment. I had a big chunk of mustard cheddar leftover from a get-together. There's only so much mustard cheddar a girl can eat, so I made mustard cheddar mac n' cheese. I would totally make it again, but next time it needs a little something else to add some bite. Oddly enough, the mustard alone wasn't quite enough. Anyway, it's just one example of how I used up something that would have otherwise gone bad and in the trash.

No comments: