Friday, February 22, 2008

#179 - Blame Management

Managing My Leftovers

Wow. I remember when I had a life. I remember parts of it at least: managing escrow accounts, managing meetings, even managing people. Apparently having children is like a giant life demotion, complete with reduced pay, slashed benefits and limited responsibility.* Because now? Now I'm managing grocery lists and leftovers. Hell, somedays? I'm just managing to stay awake.

But back to the leftovers. That's the real meat of this post. hehehe. No matter how precisely I measure, or how carefully I plan, we always end up with leftovers. Well, not ALWAYS, but often. Often enough that I need a plan to deal with them so they don't end up getting all nasty in the fridge. Well thanks, once again, to Crunchy's NO WASTE challenge, I've put myself to task to devise a solution that will keep us from tossing out that extra food. I've adopted the Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle Mantra for my leftovers.

1. Reduce - Nobody likes to see a half empty plate at suppertime. And I hate the thought of someone leaving the dinner table hungry so what do I do? I make smaller portions of the "main meal" and add more side dishes on the table. Here's the key though - the side dishes need to be something that will last well in the fridge or pantry. Things like applesauce, cheese cubes, baby carrots, baked beans. So now, instead of each of us getting a 6 ounce serving of chicken and a cup of rice, we each get 4 ounces of chicken and 1/2 cup of rice. BUT, we get to add as much (or as little) side dish action as we like. At the end of dinner, the side dishes go back in the fridge where they will patiently wait for tomorrow's return.

2. Reuse - I try to eat up any leftovers the next day for lunch. I don't "food fatigue" as quickly as everone else around here and hey, I'm the eco-dork who decided to go green, so I feel it's my duty anyhow. If there's more than I can eat (or should eat) for lunch then I will wrap it, label it, date it and freeze it. (That's date as in "circa 1959" not date as in "let's go to the movies with the chicken cutlets") To ensure that I don't just forget about it, I write the item down on next month's calendar as part of the menu, along with a note that it's already in the freezer.

3. Recycle - One word: Soup. Friday has become soup day at Casa Burban and whatever appears to be "on its way out" ends up "finding its way in". In to the soup pot, that is. Add a little broth and some spice. Maybe whip up some homemade bread and Voila! A hearty crockpot meal that doubles as a fridge cleaner! BAM!

So there you have it, kiddos. Leftover Management 101. Don't remember taking that in college, do you?


Lots and lots of fuzzy green leftovers.

Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

I tend to forget to check the fridge first for lunch options. I get my face all fixed for a sandwich and then realize "crap! I'm supposed to eat up this stir fry from last night". It's a crazy rollercoaster of food emotion. But I'm coping.

*Note to angry SAHMs/SAHDs who are devoid of a sense of humor: this is a joke. I understand that raising my children is life's biggest responsibility and I actually do enjoy it (most of the time). Stop sending me hate mail and let it go already.


Wendy said...

I was spooning leftover meat sauce onto pizza last night and I commented to my husband about how I'm getting so much better at using the food we have. He said, "Yeah, you are." I'm not sure he was listening ;).

And I had to laugh at your "soup." We've been having a lot of a similar type of soup lately ;).

And btw, taking care of your children is the most important job in the world, and it's just a crying shame that you consider it a demotion .... Thank GOD for my children, and ... oh, shit. I think someone broke something - stop not touching your sister .... Gotta go.

MamaBird said...

Great post, can you tell me how you store your leftovers, esp in the freezer? I used to have a big love affair with the Ziplocs and now I do have freezer paper but I feel it doesn't work for everything. And I would like to stop using plastic tupperware for things that are remotely acidic but haven't figured out how to store, say, extra soup. Classico jar? Room in top and then in freezer? Any tips? Thx...

leslie said...

Salmagundi Monday. That's when all the weeks stuff gets put together one last time. In a stew, soup, or make a sauce for it, and put it over pasta.

SustainableStyle said...

I've had NO waste since I got my chickens. Anything we don't eat goes to them, and if they can't eat it, it goes into the compost pile that they will inevitably get into anyway and break down ever further, lol.

Burbanmom said...

Wendy... LOL -- EXACTLY my point!

Mama... I'm still using the same old ziplocks from last June. Rinse, dry and reuse. As for soups, I tend to use the tupperware and/or old ricotta containers. I used glass once and it broke, which, with little ones around, freaked me out. However, if you are careful and remember to leave room at the top and keep the lid off till frozen, that will work well.

Leslie... I think you make things up sometimes. ;-) Also? my emails to you are bouncing back. What gives? Will try again I guess, but I suspect your neighbors...

Sustainablestyle... I do compost anything that doesn't get eaten, but am trying diligently to not let any edible foods go to waste. Assuming anything I make is considered "edible" in the first place! :-)

Chile said...

Thank goodness there is no food fatigue illness here. Totally relate to the disappointment of discovering you've got to eat up leftovers at lunch, though, when you were counting on something else.

Just this week, my sweetie had the same soup (frugal, use-it-up, clean-stuff-out style) for dinner, next day's lunch & dinner, and following day's lunch. He was fine with it.

Soup's on right now. When the onions started sticking at the beginning, I poured in a little leftover juice from marinated artichokes. Yum!

organicneedle said...

You get hate mail correcting your mothering?! I am a little jealous. You should post it so we can all learn how to be better mothers.

As far as leftovers, I am blessed with a husband with a hummingbird metabolism and very low standards.

Thanks again for the packaging info. My supplies are on their way via USPS. Huge help. (I even mentioned you on my teeny tiny not even worthy of decent hate mail blog today. :))

leslie said...

Glad you mentioned the emails.
I had a MASSIVE spam attack yesterday, and now I am getting NO emails, and NO comments. I do not know what is going on, but it makes me 'twitchy'.

Chile said...

Leslie, I just sent you an email so you could see if it comes through. :)

leslie said...

Thanks Chile. I got yours, and two Bmom sent, but now I got another spam, and then nothing is happening again.
I need some brocoleeee.

Anonymous said...

When storing food in plastic, be sure it's not still hot. The problem of plastic leaching into food is worse when the contents are hot, so let the food cool to room temperature first.

I do put mason jars into the freezer with room at the top. So far, no breakage. I don't have kids to worry about. But I do have kitties who will eat anything that falls on the floor, and that probably includes glass. And I don't need the SPCA after me, so I'm very careful.