June Food Stamp Challenge — Day Eleven, Using it Up!

by Katy on June 11, 2010 · 10 comments

Today is day eleven of the June Food Stamp Challenge, and it’s starting to become routine. Like yesterday, I drove to my mother’s neighborhood in order to help clean one of her rental cottages. This commute takes me by a Trader Joe’s store, and I usually pop in as I consider myself to be the Supreme Empress of batching my errands. However, there weren’t any particular items that I needed from Trader Joe’s, so I drove past without a second glance. This is a huge break from my routine, and probably saved me a good ten dollars in impulse buys. (I do love their hummus, but I have a can of garbanzo beans that I gleaned from a rental cottage last week!)

I am also looking in my cupboards to see what needs to get used up, rather than thinking about what I need to buy.

Yesterday I used up:

  • Two boxes of Cheerios that each hold held a small amount of cereal.
  • A bag of marshmallows.
  • The last of the electric blue frosting from my son’s birthday party. (Yes you guessed it — I made frosted Rice Krispie treats as a special after school snack for my rather surprised sons. I included that handful of Cheerios.)
  • The last of a jar of mayonaisse. (Tuna salad sandwiches in the school lunches.)
  • The last of a container of bleu cheese crumbles.
  • The last of a head of lovely organic red leaf lettuce.
  • The last of a jar of marinara sauce, to which I added a can of organic canned tomatoes and a can of tomato paste. (The canned tomatoes were left behind by someone at one of my mother’s rental cottages.)
  • A cut up orange that went to school in a school lunch and then came home again.

It may seem like an odd hobby, but I get a very satisfied feeling knowing that something got completed used up rather than become stale, rotten or simply forgotten.

I did bring home a few items from my mother’s rental cottage, that I will also use up. This food is free, and I have no qualms about working it into my family’s diet.

Here’s what came home with me yesterday:

  • Half of a quart of 1% milk.
  • Half of a pint of whole milk.
  • A quarter bottle of red wine.
  • A quarter jug of nice orange juice.

This food was left behind by very nice people who were renting my mother’s rather pricey cottage. I am not a germ-o-phobe, and have no qualms about the food safety issue here.

I guess this would be the “Use it up” in the whole “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!”

Are you becoming more aware of using up your food? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie Jones June 11, 2010 at 9:31 am

Like you, I would have no qualms about taking and eating the food left in the cottages.

Also like you, I get a small thrill when I use up the last bites and bits of something, whether it’s ketchup in the kitchen or shampoo in the bathroom. I like that bottom-of-the-bottle, nothing-was-wasted feeling. 🙂


The Saved Quarter June 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

I’m like you and Annie – no qualms about the leftover food, and excited to finish a bottle of something rather than wasting it. My husband adds a little water when a bottle gets to about 1/4 full, stretching that last bit as much as he can. We’ve found that we like ketchup a little runnier than it normally comes and shampoo is just as effective watered down by even half.


Annie B. June 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Another Annie chimes in! I am in the process of preparing chicken enchiladas for a potluck I am attending tomorrow. I am using leftover cooked and chopped chicken I had in my freezer taken from a rotisserie chicken that had been boiled for stock. Also, corn tortillas from my freezer. The onions will be from my freezer also, chopped and frozen before they went bad. I will be using half a container of sour cream and some green enchilada sauce from the freezer, as well as grated jack and cheddar cheese–you guessed it–from the freezer. I am also taking Spicy Citrus Black Beans. A recipe I got from the internet. The beans, onions, garlic, chipotle, olive oil and white wine vinegar are from my pantry and were all purchased on sale, of course. Chopped bell peppers, anaheim peppers, chicken stock, and orange juice all came from my freezer. I don’t take care of any cottages, but believe me, I would partake of the leftovers any day of the week! I, too, love to “use it up.” Something I got from my very frugal (when it came to food) father. I really enjoy your blog and learn a lot from you.


Shannon June 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

We’ve been using up our food too! We’re going on vacation soon and I am super proud of the fact that our last shopping trip was last Thursday, for which I spent $45 at Aldi’s, and we have finished up so many things! Partial boxes of cereal, bags of buns from Memorial day cookout, the last of the eggs, the last of the fresh produce—it is really opening my eyes to how waste happens around here. I think I am too attached to my regular shopping day even when we don’t need anything, I think I succumb to laziness and order food in, and I think that I don’t spend enough time on a daily basis really trying to create meals out of what I have. I think I’m also getting smarter about buying stuff that I will never ever use, as well as stuff that was never good for us in the first place. This vacation I can *finally* leave the house with an empty fridge and a clean conscience!


Magdalena June 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

It’s just two of us here this week and next, so I’ve been cleaning out the freezer meals. I often freeze a little of this, a little of that, and use it later. We’ve had chicken and stuffing (with frozen kale added); leftover veggie soup with frozen pierogies (homemade) and 1/2 each of a tiny pork pot pie from the farmer’s market, which I had frozen after it wasn’t eaten at supper a couple of weeks ago. Tomorrow night we are having beef and gravy with rice, all from the freezer. I add salads or fresh veggies as needed to round out the meal.

Sunday I will use up some split peas (with garlic sausage from the farmer’s market). I think the leftover beef, gravy and veggie soup still in the freezer is going to become a shepherd’s pie to use up the last of the bag of potatoes. That should make two meals. And the last of the navy beans will go in the beanpot sometime next week, as well.

I have some leftover frosting, too – cream cheese – which will go on banana bread for breakfast. Next time I bake bread, I’ll crush the leftover odd cereal and mix that in to the flour. So that should clear out our pantry and freezer bits!


Mrs. B June 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Wow…that is pretty impressive. I hope to aspire to using leftovers as well as you do someday. Thanks for all the great ideas.


Carla June 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I was just thinking about food waste tonight as I cleaned out the fridge before leaving on a trip tomorrow. We had a mega-leftover meal tonight and plan to take a good number of perishables with us to eat at my father’s house. But still, some things slipped by this week. I found a bag of dead and turning-slick spinach which I think my daughter brought over last weekend and which never entered my consciousness because I was so busy with the grandchildren. (If she didn’t bring it then somebody broke into our house to leave dying spinach in the fridge, LOL.) As I cleaned up the mess I decided to use a very simple method of keeping up with fridge food which works as long as I work it. When we get home there will be a simple piece of paper on the fridge door to write down both fresh items and leftovers as they go in. As they are used up they’ll be crossed off. I need to inventory the freezer and do it for that, too. It’s an easy enough system so maybe I can get a handle on food waste that way.


LBC Teacher June 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I wish I was better about “use it up.” It’s definitely a work in progress for me, but I am getting a little better about it. This post reminds me that I should cut up some leftover carrots to have as a snack tomorrow before they go bad.


CC June 12, 2010 at 1:30 am

I try to use up all leftovers either for lunch/dinner the next day or freezing. Last month I tried to clear out the freezer. Its funny how something that you don’t want to eat taste so good later.

I have also been working on making stuff we usually buy. Last week I canned some barbecue sauce. Even though it took time I know what went into it and we have enough for all year. Then I ran out of tortillas and stopped to pick some up, but was thinking I should try making them. Could you do a post on making stuff at home that usually gets bought. I was thinking how we might always buy something because we think its too hard to make. But someone does make it to sell so why not try it at home.


Georgene June 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Is it too late to start this challenge? My goal (before I ran across your website) was to try and drop our food budget to $200.00 this month. BUT, to be fair I must say that I receive help from food pantries do to our financial situation. Does that disqualify me? I won’t be receiving any food from the pantry until the first Sunday of next month.


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