Some more reflections: Day Four

STA’s burgers and the margaritas were great on Tuesday night. My chips need a little work, however. I haven’t quite figured out that golden (literally) mean between soggy and burnt. Oh well, I will keep trying. As we were preparing our food on Tuesday night, I realized something that I think just might be crucial to breaking old habits and developing new ones: We make and waste too much food.

There I was, shucking the corn (well, actually, RJP shucked the corn. She was very proud of herself. She asked: “Do I have school tomorrow?” When I said yes, she excitedly responded: “Yeah! I’m going to tell EVERYONE that I got to peel the corn!!”) when it suddenly dawned on me: We still had lots of leftover vegetables, couscous salad and hot dogs from last night. How could we possibly eat all of the new food that we were preparing and finish up our leftovers? Wait, let me rephrase that: How could we possibly eat all of the new food and finish up our leftovers without our stomachs exploding? (And without ending up on the floor, rolling around and groaning, “I ate too much!” I like to reserve that unpleasant experience for just once a year: after Thanksgiving dinner. Since I was a little girl, it has been a SLP tradition.)

The only alternative to exploding stomachs seems to be to waste food, which happens frequently. I really dislike wasting food. Not because I am haunted by some “starving children in insert ‘third world’ country here.” Don’t get me started on that extremely problematic statement or the guilt-ridden/othering/colonizing ideology that undergirds it. I dislike wasting food because…hmmm? I want to say it is because I am frugal, but I am not sure what that means or why it bothers me. Oh well, let’s just say that I dislike wasting food. In our next shopping trip, we need to think about making choices that are guided by the goals of not buying or making more than we can eat. Uh oh. It sounds like these goals might require more planning. Sorry STA….

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8 Responses to Some more reflections: Day Four

  1. STA says:

    Your mention of the emotionally manipulative (and potentially misleading) photography of “starving children” used by charity organizations made me think of this photography project that seeks to debunk this over-simplified image of life in places like rural Africa. (Found on

  2. My mom must have eventually found the perfect portion balance… or maybe my role as the leftover wrangler started early. As a household of only two, we end up with leftovers with almost every meal, but it usually is put upon me to deal with those, as EHM just does not eat leftovers for some reason. I’m pretty good at making lunches out of what we do not eat for dinner.

    Portion control is not an exact science, especially if you want to avoid the night time snacking. I imagine with young children it’s even harder.

    I’m with you though… if I find that some leftovers have turned to the dark side, I consider it a personal failure in management and budgeting.

  3. SLP says:

    @STA: Thanks for posting this link. I do recall mentioning the problematic images of starving children in our conversation about my entry. When I wrote my post, I was also thinking about the imagined images that are conjured up by a parent’s (although I am fairly certain that my parents never uttered these words) threat to their child: “Eat your food. Don’t you know that there are starving children in Africa!” I think I want to write an entry (somewhere) about how problematic this moral education lesson is!

  4. SLP says:

    @JWW: It’s funny you should bring up Moms–I had a different experience with my mom. She was notorious, at least among me and my sisters, for leaving leftovers in the frig for way too long–not because she didn’t want to ever waste food, but because she always seemed to forget it was there. Perhaps the biggest victim of her neglect was cheese–well, maybe dairy products in general. Somewhere I have a video clip of STA and I finding some milk (or cream, I can’t remember?) in her frig that was almost a year past its expiration date. If I can find it, I will try to post it. This discussion of moms makes me think of another crucial part of breaking old habits and learning new ones (and something I elude to in my entry and my comment to STA): the role that parents play in modeling bad and good habits for us. What lessons do we learn from our parents (and other authority figures when we are kids) about good and bad eating/consuming/buying habits?

    STA: are you brave enough to share your pancake story?

    • Anne says:

      SLP is right about our mom – she would forget about food/leftovers/other items in the refrigerator. I’m the opposite. I hate to throw anything out (although it does happen). Mine stems from the years of not having money – I needed those leftovers for a meal or two the next day. That continues. So I think it is a process (sometimes out of necessity) to find a way to incorporate leftovers into meal prep. Also, since we don’t have a car anymore (stolen, not a green statement by any stretch), we are shopping a little every day which means we don’t have the stockpile of food hanging out in the frig like we did back in the car days.

      Oh and regarding the shucking the corn – if I can figure out how to have the kids involved in making the meal (which I must confess I am not inclined to do since I consider my cooking time as my opportunity to relax) then there is at least a 50% greater chance they will eat it. Even if it is a green vegetable. So kudos to you.

  5. Pingback: Cleaning out the pantry | Unchained

  6. SLP says:

    Thanks for posting Anne! Your ability to make meals out of leftovers is truly inspiring. I think of you anytime I am able to make a meal out of what we have. Let me know if you ever want to write a guest blog with your experiences/tips/strategies. I would really enjoy reading more of your ideas and recipes.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Two words: Go, Sara!