Frugality and zero-waste often go in hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, my taste buds and my kids pickiness often work hard to overcome my desire to save food and eliminate extra waste. I pack lunches for my kids and every other day (consistency is not their strong point) I unpack those same lunches from their bags. The apples are brown and the carrots are hard. A whole week can go by with brown apples being unpacked from lunch boxes, when on the 8th day I don’t pack them apples the ensuing tantrums are vicious. So apples go in their lunch every day and very often come home brown.
The frugal side of me cringes if they go in the trash yet the picky side me refuses to eat them.
I have the same issue with soft vegetables, slightly browning bananas, mushy fruit and browning greens.
So I keep 3 Containers that live in my freezer:
Fruit and vegetables that are “gross” to me and my family (i.e. mushy, hard, brown) yet not moldy go into one of the 3 containers.
I have a container where I put my vegetable stock- leftover carrots, browning greens, etc go into this box. I also put carrot peels, the strings from my celery and other scraps. These sit in my freezer until I need a new chicken or vegetable stock. Occasionally I have to add some vegetables but more often than not, some water and these scraps make a delicious stock. I will buy some chicken necks or bones and make a flavorful chicken stock as well. These get frozen into individual containers and are the base of many soups, stews, sauces and other dishes. Low-sodium and basically free!
I love smoothies and they are a great snack. Frozen fruit can be really pricey though! Browning fruit go into a container just for that purpose. A lot of bananas end up there but sometimes berries, dates, kiwi, and pears go as well. When it’s time for a smoothie, I hack some pieces off, add a liquid and a green (basil or parsley) and a delicious smoothie is born. All made from items that may have ended up in the trash!
I don’t like apples in my smoothies but my kids love apples (sometimes). Browning apples get placed into their own container where I save them until I have enough for a cobbler, pie, apple sauce or apple cider. Fruits that would have been thrown in the trash are saved until they are useful once more.
This system also assuages my guilt for not eating imperfect fruit (I am very picky to the taste and texture of my fruit and vegetables). It also helps me curb my inclination to buy less fruit and vegetables to have in the house. The frugal side of me has a hard time spending money on a variety of fruits and vegetables if I think it may not got eaten. But its really much better for myself and my children to have these options readily available for them to eat. By reducing the amount of food that goes to waste, I can feel comfortable by fresh fruits and vegetables because I know they will get used-even if its not in the original way intended.
Do you struggle with eating healthy on a budget? It doesn’t have to be difficult!