These days we live in a society of use and abuse. We use and abuse the environment. We use and abuse our natural resources. We use and abuse our belongings. We use and abuse our bank accounts. And we use and abuse ourselves.
We just throw things out and replace them at whim. We think nothing about the huge mountains (or islands, in the case of the oceans) of waste which are growing not all that far away from us. We don't care that each and every of our actions has a profound and echoing reaction.
The topic of waste is a book unto itself. I want to look at just one tiny aspect of it: Food. Or food and drink, to be more precise.
I want to ask you something, and I would like you to think about the answer and be open and honest about it. You do not need to share your answer, not unless you want to, but be honest to yourself about it.
What do you do with leftover food and drink?
If it is food or drink which you have cooked or bought at a restaurant, do you store it appropriately to be eaten at the next convenient time or do you throw it out? If it is food or drink which you have bought and have not prepared or eaten, do you find a use for it before it goes off or do you throw it out? When you do eat out, do you ask for a doggy bag for your leftovers or do you just leave them on the plate to be thrown out?
There is so much which we can do with leftovers. Indeed, there are whole cookery books which cover the subject on the market. Leftovers are sometimes inevitable. Even if you plan your meals to cover the amounts everyone normally eats, you might well find that every now and then there is a small portion of rice, potato, pasta, meat, vegetable or other item left over. These are normally easy to combine with another meal within a couple of days, or they can be labeled and frozen to make into a larger meal later on.
Have you ever heard of a pot luck party? That's an event where each person brings part of the meal - sometimes themed (e.g. Mexican, Indian, Vegetarian, Tapas), sometimes free choice. Sometimes you'll find that the contributions mix wonderfully, other times you really are facing the luck of the pot. Leftovers can work the same way. Collect the bits and pieces and store them safely. Once a month pull them out, add a small extra dish if necessary, and serve it up. You might occasionally end up with some wild combinations, but normally the foods do blend fairly well with each other. Many families find this kind of event fun.
I think my wildest combination was a quarter spiced up ham pizza; mild vegetarian chili; beetroot salad; butter rice; Thai inspired catfish and prawns in a coconut milk sauce; and broccoli. I added a few slices of ham and cucumber plus a handful of cherry tomatoes to the offering and everything got eaten up with gusto. There was something there for everyone in the family.
But if you are dealing with just a small portion of something, you can use it up for yourself or someone else in your family the next day easily. The variety of tasty sandwich combinations you can make is amazing. Even boiled potato and poached salmon mashed together with a bit of mustard or mayonnaise can be turned into a great sandwich - or add an egg instead and form it into fish patties for a quick and easy warm meal. Last night I combined a slice of French Toast, the remainder of a tin of baked beans, some boiled carrots, lambs lettuce and a beetroot salad together. It made a very pleasant meal which I normally would not have considered.
And now a quick look at the drinks side. Have you ever thought about how much liquid you pour down the drain in a day or a week? Maybe your child(ren) didn't drink the milk at breakfast or dinner. Maybe a glass of juice was left standing. Maybe you brewed too much coffee or tea. There is no need to throw it out (unless, for example, the milk or juice has been exposed to very warm temperatures AND sunshine for several hours). Just put it in the fridge and bring it out next mealtime. Pour it into a fresh glass if necessary, but keep it. Tea can be made into ice tea - or frozen as ice cubes for a later date or treat (the best mulled wine has strong black tea in it!). And coffee. Many people immediately throw out a cup or pot of cold coffee. Yet many others prefer day old coffee to freshly brewed. Try it. Drink the coffee later - just warm it up and sip it. You might well be surprised at how much you still enjoy it.
What if you just bought too much, or bought something to try which in the end you decided was a bad idea? There are still plenty of ways to use it rather than to abuse it.
If you have a load of vegetables in your fridge which are starting to look like they have seen better days then grab yourself a pot and half an hour and make up food for a day when you might not have time or inclination to cook. Turn it into a stew or a soup and freeze individual or smaller portions. Cook the various ingredients separately and freeze them ready to use later. Prepare it and store it. Grab the meat which is about to go off and cook it up quickly. It doesn't need to be fancy, you can just throw it in the pan with a tiny bit of seasoning. But get it stored to use later as quickly as you can. If you bought an item in bulk because it was cheaper, but it is now going bad and you cannot store it to use later, then consider paying the extra for less next time. (By the way, you can also freeze milk, cream, yogurt and butter!)
But why is all this so important?
If you think about it, we have been conditioned to always want more, have more, find more. Somewhere along the line we became conditioned to just throw out the things which were left over or no longer totally optimal and to replace them with something new. But if we carry on like this, we will strain our planet and our reserves past coping point. Population growth is exploding. The west has mountains and rivers of waste while people in other places are starving due to lack of food or due to the pollution we are creating. And, if that isn't reason enough, think of your wallet and your bank account. The saying 'Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves' is very true. If you save some of your food then you buy less food. If you buy less food then you spend less money. If you spend less money then your wallet or bank account will be fuller. If your wallet or bank account is fuller then you can use the money for something else.
So, before you opt for WASTE next time, stop and think about it for a moment and then turn it into WAIST for a later meal.
Be well. Live with Purpose.
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