Down With Food Waste!

“I fixed the refrigerator,” I announced.

“What was wrong with it?” a daughter asked.

“Well, you know how we buy more vegetables than we can fit in the drawers, and so we put them on the shelf, but then they kind of start getting pushed to the back where we can’t see them or reach them, and then, after a while, they turn into this disgusting puddle of smelly brown goo?”

“Yes,” said another. “I’m well acquainted with what happens to vegetables in the back of the refrigerator.”

“So,” said the first, “we need to get rid of the back of the refrigerator!”

“Yes, ” I replied, ignoring her sarcastic tone.  “Exactly.  I got rid of the back of the refrigerator.”

They both looked at me skeptically, until I explained my solution: two more “drawers” to put the veggies in!

That bottom shelf cracked ages ago, under the weight of milk jars, I think.  Eight gallons of milk in glass jars is heavy!  The crack makes that one drawer hard to open.

That bottom shelf cracked ages ago, under the weight of milk jars, I think. Eight gallons of milk in glass jars is heavy! The crack makes that one drawer hard to open.

See?  Two extra drawers!  The one on the left is for greens and things, the one on the right for other sundry soft and quickly-turns-to-goo veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, and mushrooms.  The built in drawers are for root vegetables on the left and, on the right, sturdier veggies, like cabbage and peppers.  Because you have to pull the whole basket out to access the veggies, there is no longer a back-of-the-refrigerator.  At least not on this shelf.  So, presumably, the vegetables will get used instead of lost, cutting down on my frustration level when I can’t find something I know is in there.  I mean, cutting down on food waste.

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In other news, I made chicken broth in my crock pot this morning.  I made roasted chicken last night, because my friend Barbara said she had trouble getting hers to brown in her roaster oven.  Mine were browning all right (at 350°) but I had them too crowded, so I had to cut them apart and finish them in the oven.  Next time, I’ll cook them directly in the roaster pan instead of wedging them in a casserole.  We eat three chickens at a time and I think they’ll be okay if they aren’t touching.  The rotisserie on the grill, though, is faster, even if you do have to watch it the whole time.  And I could cook six at a time, if I wanted!  Which I don’t, usually, but you never know.  It’s good to have a plan.

Anyway, I was surprised that those three carcasses, plus two uneaten leg quarters, actually fit in the crock pot!  It’s an 8-quart model, which is bigger than I thought; there was even room for the appropriate broth-making veggies and a gallon of water.  And it tastes great.  So, more unwasted food.

Now, if I could only figure out how to keep the bread from going moldy atop the fridge, I’d be all set.

How about you?  Any kitchen wins at your house this week?

*I’ve been reading this book, which didn’t exactly include the basket-drawer idea, but it did inspire to me to think about our food losses and how I might reduce those.  It’s a pretty good book, and one I might add to our homemaking library.  I borrowed my copy from the library.

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14 thoughts on “Down With Food Waste!

    1. Jennie Cooper Post author

      They just keep putting fresh bread on top of bags of crusts or small chunks, and the bottom bread turns into a solid mass of greenish bluish mold by the time I notice it. Basket or top of fridge makes no difference here. When I need bread crumbs, I’ve been trying to grind all I can find, and I freeze what I don’t need, but we’re still losing a lot. Maybe I’d be more proactive if I could see it better.

      Reply
  1. Emily G

    I like that idea. I have the same problem, especially in summer. In warm months I buy all my veggies at a flea market where they come in white bags, so you can’t see what’s in them, making it even easier to loose stuff in the fridge. Cilantro is the worst. That stuff goes to goo in the blink of an eye. I hate when I cook Mexican and go for it at the end only to find…goo. :(

    I have a big plastic sack in the freezer where I dump all chicken bones, even ones folks gnawed on (they’re going to get boiled!). Sometimes I even remember to put celery and carrot ends or mushroom stems into it, too. Periodically I make broth. I usually save enough bones to use my 20 qt stock pot. When nights are cold, I set it out overnight on the back step so I can skim the fat in the morning, and in warmer months it goes straight into the fridge in quart bags. I do make less stock in summer. Last fall when the weather turned I had quite a bagfull of chicken garbage, but it made wonderful fall soups.

    Kitchen wins this week were few save the salad I pulled off on the day before market when I was really at a loss.. I roasted carrots and beets and put them with grilled chicken on a bed of homegrown lettuce with fresh herb vinaigrette. For all my harried scrounging, it got rave reviews!

    Reply
    1. Jennie Cooper Post author

      I boil the bones left after dinner, too. Just more goodness for the soup!
      And yay for the salad! The only downside to these scrounged meals is that they’re seldom repeatable. You never have the same stuff in the fridge. :-)

      Reply
  2. Michelle Reitemeyer

    We’ve had a leaky fridge for several months now and my husband just didn’t have the time to look at it. Water was pooling under those bottom crisper drawers and then, when it got full, spilling onto the floor. Yesterday was “fix the fridge” day…which was difficult because he got started (1) before anybody bothered cleaning up breakfast and lunch (I was gone in the morning….nothing gets done) and (2) right when I planned to make a strawberry pie to take to a friend’s house for dinner (and it needs 3 hours in the fridge, so I couldn’t just wait until he was done). But he did figure out the problem which originated in the freezer portion, and involved rust clogging a drain tube, and now the fridge is dry and we can make ice cubes again! And the strawberry pie was delicious!

    Reply
    1. Jennie Cooper Post author

      Why do they not wash their dishes when we’re not home?! I came home to a sinkful the other day, and I told my menfolk, “I wasn’t even home! I’m not cleaning up your messes while you goof around at the computer! Come wash your own dishes!” And they did.

      I’m glad you figured out the fridge problem, and also commiserate about menfolk who start projects that have needed doing for a long time at the most inconvenient moment they can possibly think of.

      Do you care to share your strawberry pie recipe? I’ve never made one before.

      Reply
      1. Michelle Reitemeyer

        This recipe is very close to what I did: http://www.cooks.com/recipe/tn3o3592/french-strawberry-glace-pie.html

        My recipe is from the now defunct Faith and Family magazine, and I could not find an archive online. The biggest difference between the recipes is that mine calls for 6 oz cream cheese, not 3 oz…I like cream cheese, so that’s fine with me. If you have eaters who don’t like cream cheese, you could leave it out. Also, I put the strawberry garnish on top of a layer of whipped cream. I make my own whipped cream…I used a Pillsbury pie crust because I’m lazy. Easy enough to make your own.

        It is totally yummy. Make 2 if your guys like strawberries.

        Reply
  3. Margo, Thrift at Home

    clever! The back of my fridge freezes things, so I have to be careful what I put back there. But yes, we are now eating more veg than fits in the drawers.

    I can keep mushrooms for at least 2 weeks in my fridge drawer when I store them in a cloth bag or paper bag. I consider them a hardy staple :)

    Reply

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