Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!

I remember 20 or so years ago (gee, has it really been that long?), coming home from 6th grade all excited about "recycling".  My teacher had gone through a dog-and-pony show, touting the greatness of the town's new recycling program.  He told us what could be recycle and what couldn't, what happened after we dropped off our cans and what could be made of all the recycled glass and aluminum.

At the time, we were living behind my grandparents' home, so I always went to their house afterschool.  I remember running into their house, all excited about all the new information I learned.

My grandmother listened to me talk and talk and talk.  When I finally ran out of words, she matter-of-factly told me, "That's nothing new.  We did that during World War II."  I was surprised - what do you mean recycling isn't new?

That's when she sat me down and gave me a history lesson about the homefront during WWII.  My grandmother was one of the "Rosie Riveters" who left her homemaking to work in the factories to support the war effort.  She told me about the hardships, rationing and recycling that went on, all to ensure victory in Europe and Pacific. A common motto during that time was: "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!"

A far cry from our current "throw away" society.  I'm amazed at the amount of perfectly good food that people toss every month because they either don't use it before it goes bad or they don't know there are other possibilities.  I almost cried when I watched a friend toss a barely-picked-over turkey carcass in the trash - look at all the wasted meat!  Look at all the broth you could make!  AUGH!!!


"Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!" seems to be the motto in my house these days.  Nothing goes to waste in my house.  Really, I can't afford waste!  My food budget (heck, my whole budget!) is so tight, I can bounce sugar-free bubble gum off of it.  So, almost every bit of food that comes into my house is consumed in one way or another.

Some ways I "use it up" in my kitchen:
  • Leftover meat and chicken are eaten for lunch the next day or re-envisioned for the next day's dinner (chicken pieces are a fine example of this - whole pieces one day, then chicken salad or stirfry the next).
  • Fats  from meat sources (bacon/chicken fat/etc) are rendered and saved for later cooking.  (Heaven is an egg fried in bacon grease!)
  • We eat the whole egg - white and yolk.  (This idea makes my "low fat" friends shudder.  HA!  They just don't understand...)  For those recipes where I need just egg white, the yolks are saved for the next morning's eggs.
  • I use bones/chicken carcasses to make my own chicken and beef broth.  
  • Vegetable scraps (the bits that you cut off while prepping veggies for stir-fries or other veggie-heavy dishes) are tossed into a bag in the freezer to be used in the next broth-making session.
  • Older vegetables are turned into a stew or tossed into the "scraps" bag in the freezer.
  • Any fruit that starts to look "interesting" is eaten at the next meal - over-ripened pears are poached, old apples are cored and baked with some cinnamon, brown bananas are put in the freezer for the next time I want a smoothie or I need something sweet to add to something. 
  • Large dishes (like casseroles) are cut into "meal sized bits" and frozen for later quick lunches.
These are just a few ideas.  Now yes, I know that to many these ideas are extreme.  But if you're serious about eating healthy while keeping to a budget, you've got to do what you've got to do, right?

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Anne!

    Sadly, part of the reason so many of us have become so wasteful is that we've been conditioned to do so since WWII. Since then, consuming has been elevated to a virtuous status. The products we're enticed to buy aren't built to last; they're built to be replaced.

    If you haven't already seen it, you might really enjoy "The Story of Stuff."

    It's not so much about kitchen waste, but I think it's the same wasteful mentality.

    I'm a first-gen American with parents from Italy. They were kids during WWII - but clearly learned a lot about poverty, waste, and being frugal. On any budget, throwing away food and being wasteful is just plain wrong in my book.

    Thanks again for the great article!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.