May 6, 2010

My Sharpie®

I am guilty of wasting food, perishable and nonperishable.

Last year I tossed a bottle of salad dressing dating from the 1990s. And a half-dozen from the early oughts. I discovered several canned item that had been processed late in the Reagan administration. It is true, it is pathetic, embarrassing, criminal, sinful, all of those. But I keep doing it. Not hoarding, just buying food and not using it. (One reason this is, that I semi-hide in the shadow of my pseudonym Broke Girl.)

Proof of my healthy gastrointestinal system: A guest recently asked for meds for indigestion. I went right to the kitchen cupboard where I keep that stuff. And found a roll of Dairy Ease. The expiry date, October 1992, prevented my friend from taking it. I have carted this item from the Roscoe Village loft where I lived until 1993 to a Lincoln Park house, to Pasadena, to Chicago, a Michigan farmhouse, and for one year, a peripatetic squatter of various locales, then a Gold Coast apartment, and back to my house.

I decided to make brownies last night; found three egg cartons in the fridge. But I only needed one egg. My houseguests for the month of December had left a carton, a friend who stayed recently while I was out of town left some, plus I had bought some. Of all the cartons, there was not one egg that, when cracked open, didn't look so thick that a little chickie might just pop out. I discarded them all. So I looked further and tossed 2 lbs of frozen tilapia that expired 16 months ago ago. Cooking for one makes it difficult to manage volumes of fruits and vegetables, which are often cheaper by the dozen.

So I've implemented a new discipline in my household.

I date every food item that enters the kitchen. Before unpacking groceries I reach for a Sharpie. I write the current date on every single can, glass, box, carton, and plastic bag. I will also mark the date I open a carton of soymilk or juice. This is a big struggle.

I've a habit of keeping food items around that I won't eat because I think it might be a tad old; just a bit less than fresh, yet I am reluctant to toss. So I keep it around until it is for sure too old and okay to discard--like when it starts to look a bit petri-dish colorful.

Broke Girl's bragging rights to her awesome and savvy money management skills are at risk. Really, I've got it so together in so many areas that count. But not in the refrigerator and pantry.  And that is real money, left for the garbage pick up, like wadding up a C-note. It is just wrong.

Can this girl be saved by her Sharpie®?


  1. This is the second post in a row in which you deny being a hoarder. I'm just sayin'.

  2. Hahahahaaaa. Hmmmm... Thanks, Mrs. Peevie--quick, lemme see if I can retract my next post from the blogosphere--the one about saving pens that are out of ink because someday I'll surely discover how to re-inject it in those plastic cheapies, saving $3.77 per year in pen purchases. Just kidding, I think.

    The food thing is, it gets pushed to the back of the refrigerator and it has a lot to do with my lack of cooking skills. I buy healthy stuff, but then staring at it in the fridge, am not sure what to do with it, so I skip it to prepare a somewhat healthy frozen pre-prepared item. Yet I keep buying, say, fresh frozen tilipia that I think I'll figure out how to make myself.

    Being able to easily spot the purchase date in large Sharpie print helps put on the pressure for me to use it. I dearly wish I could say I am an amazing cook, or at least, a good, solid cook.

    Maybe I would do better to work on recipe and *meal-planning* rather than rely on Sharpie for help.

  3. Can anyone help me with a meal-planning blog or other such guide for cooking for one?

  4. Take the cooking thing slow. Cook just one fresh and healthy meal this week without using pre-packaged. Then maybe you won't feel overwhelmed.

    One of my favorite food blogs is Simply Recipes at Elise posts really great recipes which I have used often.

  5. Oh man, I so identify with this... I am guilty of the same thing. Buying food, forgetting I have it, realizing it's just a touch too late to eat it, but leaving it in the fridge so I feel less guilty about throwing it away later. Argh! I'm impressed with your efforts to be more consciencious... I should try the sharpie.