Rethinking old habits

Friday morning, as I was proofing pages (so much for paying attention) for our next edition, it dawned on me that I had absolutely nothing planned for dinner. I generally shop on Saturday, which means by Wednesday, the cupboard is bare. We’d been limping along for two nights on sheer grit and determination as we worked our way through — and tried to make last — what I’d made on Sunday, my “Cook All The Things” day.

Doesn't this look fantastic? Yeah, not my photo. Thanks, free images!

Doesn’t this look fantastic? Yeah, not my photo. Thanks, free images!

My first thought: Get a pizza. A take and bake, that’s less expensive, what would they say if I asked for no plastic wrap and what would happen to that unwrapped pizza in the backseat of my car?

Friday pizza used to be a Walker Four staple. Because by Friday, not only are the cupboards pathetic, but I’m wiped out. I do not think very clearly on a Friday afternoon. I’ve been VERY good since the project began — I’m trying to think back to the last take and bake pizza we got, and I can’t. We’ve gone to the downtown pizza joint that lets you get slices … and I can’t believe I haven’t broken at least once and gotten a take and bake, I just don’t remember.

But I’ve held strong THIS long, and anyway, even if I went sans plastic wrap, that cardboard baker thing isn’t the greatest either, all coated in plastic like it is.

Dang it! I hate it when my conscience kicks in.

So I started going over what I have in the fridge and freezer. I could make a pizza … if my frozen naan wasn’t frozen. Stir fry? We had cabbage and carrots and a couple strips left from a green pepper. Oh, and tomatoes — our Sungold plants are going nuts. But that didn’t sound like a very vegetable-y stir fry.

But! I did just get two dozen eggs from my friend Beth (hi, Beth!), and just so everyone can rest easy, those are happy chickens living very cushy chicken lives. And frittatas are quick and easy. And totally zero waste.

Oh, FINE, who needs pizza anyway?

So I texted Eric to say, hey, frittata tonight, just so then I couldn’t back out of it at the last second. (My will is SO WEAK on a Friday.)

Cut to that evening: Get out my beloved large cast iron skillet (I also have the medium and small sizes, which is really saying something because I hate storing stuff), add some olive oil, start hunting around in the fridge. Toss in some leftover chopped onion, slice up those green pepper strips into more manageable pieces, halve the Sungolds. Hmm. Not very exciting. Remember the corn on the cob, cut that off and add it. Tempted to add some cabbage but decide that would taste weird. Crack and beat six eggs, add some milk (my grandma always added water to her scrambled eggs, maybe I should consider that), pour that over the cooking veggies. Forget to turn the burner down so it ends up being a little burned on the bottom. Remember to preheat the broiler to finish off the top, so that’s a win. Toss a few tiny red potatoes into the microwave. Start pulling out random fruits and veggies I prepped last Sunday that really need to get eaten anyway.

Boom. DINNER. Mother of the Year!

Thankfully my leftovers also included some cookies made by my mother. Cookies make everything better.

So we all got fed. And I had the added bonus of not only feeling righteous for NOT getting a pizza, but for using up odds and ends that might have just ended up in the compost heap, making something completely preservative-free and all-natural, and zero waste to boot. While I was on my last legs, mind you. I ate my dinner on the porch with a new book, sat in the sun and was like, that’s it, family, Mama out.

The end!

I’m writing about this, though, not because it’s terribly exciting — uh, it’s not — but because it’s a step in the right direction on this zero waste journey of mine. (And it’s definitely a journey and not a destination.)

And it’s a segue to another little project I’ve been working on: going through my recipe collection.

My recycled notebook. Uh, I just had Eric drill holes in the folded pages and then used two metal rings to make it into a book.

My recycled notebook. Uh, I just had Eric drill holes in the folded pages and then used two metal rings to make it into a book.

I recently visited the library and checked out Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, which is sort of ironic because I have it on my Kindle, but I wanted to be able to flip through pages and take notes. I’ve read this a million times, both the book and her blog, but this time I paid close attention, and one item that struck me was a blurb about how instead of trying to work bulk around her recipes, she works her recipes around bulk.

Oh em gee, as Johanna would say — that is genius.

I made a recycled notebook a while ago (meant to post a tutorial, still haven’t, whatever) and decided it would be the perfect holder for my new, pared down recipe collection. I haven’t gotten terribly far in the process just because it takes time, but when I write something down, it has to comply with a set of criteria: first, that most of the ingredients can be found in bulk, and second, if not bulk, then in recyclable containers (tin or cardboard). Oh, and it has to be fast or something I can make ahead of time. I’m busy, you guys, and while I am committed to home cooking (I MISS YOU, PIZZA), I’ve got a life to lead.

Thoughts, feelings? How do you handle shopping and eating and cooking?

Next up: Tomatoes 101.