After I wrote yesterday's introduction and idea for this I got a little panicky. Am I in over my head? Maybe. But its my game, so I can make and break the rules as needed. The point isn't to make myself miserable.
So first thing, I thought about the week's menu . For Sunday there would be pasta with some kind of fish and veg, and Monday or Tuesday, depending on my leftovers situation, would be Hatch chile quesadillas with leftover roasted chiles from the other day.
I also had to think about breakfasts and lunches. I want this experiment to impact Scott (my husband) as little as possible. I make him lunch every day and he skips breakfast (sometimes we have oatmeal but not since it's been hot). He usually has a turkey or ham sandwich, fruit, yogurt, and granola bar. I usually eat a lot of cereal, fruit, smoothies, and leftover dinner foods for lunches (or whenever I feel like eating, as I work at home).
I had some stuff from last week for Scott's lunch, including turkey and one yogurt. I also of course have mayo and mustard so I don't have to think about that just yet. But I would need to provide more yogurt, and granola bars--which I decided would be easier as just "granola."
So for Sunday night, I would have to make:
Fresh pasta and finished dinner
Monday night I would have to make
Dinner out of homemade tortillas and cheese
OK. I looked up some yogurt and cheese recipes and started making my shopping list and gathering containers. Central Market, where I do most of the shopping, has an extensive bulk section with plastic containers or bags provided. I have a bunch of them laying around that I'd normally take to the recycling, and looking in the cabinet I found a few more that were about half full of stuff that conveniently would be perfect for my granola. I had a basic recipe for granola from the cookbook Super Natural Cooking, but I decided to vary it quite a bit to suit my needs. So I dumped out all the random stuff lurking in my containers and got this:
Dried cranberries, a little dried mixed tropical fruit, whole almonds, sliced almonds, and toasted pumpkin seeds. A nice start. I washed out all those empty containers, added them to the ones I already had, grabbed my shopping bags and headed out.
All in all, here is what I ended up taking to the store. A bunch of plastic containers, and bags. Oh wait, there was one more thing to do. Central Market has a "label your own" produce system, where you weigh each item and print the label from the scale. They provide plastic bags for this. I've seen people put the labels on their shirts, and I usually put a million on one bag and put a lot of stuff in the one bag, but this time there would be no bag. I got a piece of junk mail and folded it lengthwise, to put my stickers on. Should work ok.
Scott was really concerned that I was going to appear to be insane, juggling a bunch of containers and asking for special treatment. I didn't want this any more than he did.
So I put all the buckets in one of the shopping bags, and at the store I put the bags in the cart. At the bulk bins I filled up my containers quietly and quite normally, just using my own containers instead of theirs. The first exception: I needed something bigger than what I had for all the flour I was buying, so I stole a paper bag from the bread area (I also used one for my bread). But the rest of my containers were enough, and I used no new plastic.
So far, no one seemed to notice me at all. But then I had to go to seafood....
All I wanted was for them to fill my cylindrical container with shrimp. Usually, they put your fish in one plastic bag and then into another one filled with ice. I didn't want any plastic or ice--I didn't care about a couple of stray fish germs mingling with my other groceries, and I wasn't going to be gone long enough to need ice (I never am--I usually tell them to skip it but sometimes forget). So I gave the fish man my bucket and politely asked him to just fill it with shrimp. He did, seeming a little befuddled...He then tried to put it in a bag with ice, and then in a bag without ice. Both times I just smiled and said I didn't need that and that it was fine the way it way it was. Having worked for years in a health food store full of high-maintenance clientele, I am very sensitive to not being the asshole customer. While it might have been a little unusual, I caused him no extra work--in fact, it was less work. I was polite throughout and smiled, and felt a little awkward, but in the end it was fine.
In produce, I filled my bag, printed my labels and was done. I decided not to get any berries even though I wanted them, because they are all packed in plastic containers. I got Texas peaches which I used another paper bag for (helps them ripen), plums, bananas, and two oranges. Plus all the veggies for my dinners.
Now I would need some packaged stuff--there was no way around I. I had looked online and couldn't find a small dairy within driving distance or with a delivery program to do a glass bottle exchange, and the farmers market with the eggs isn't until Weds. So I bought three half-gallons of milk in cardboard, and one dozen eggs in cardboard. (BTW, regarding the milk containers, I wonder if plastic is better, as its recyclable? They say explicitly at my recycling place that they DON'T take the lined cardboard milk containers.) I would use all the milk to make the yogurt and cheese, and the eggs for pasta and other recipes later. But to make the yogurt I also needed some yogurt. Annoying, but in theory once I'm started I'll never have to buy it again. So I got a glass jar of the White Mountain Bulgarian Yogurt that is so popular around here. I also needed cooking oil, to make the breadsticks I was thinking of, and for my granola (it calls for coconut oil but I didn't want to buy a bunch of extra stuff--I knew it would taste fine with canola). They don't sell olive or any oil in the bulk section, actually, so I bought a big jug of it. In the future, I'll check other stores for bulk oils. And, I needed to get parchment paper for the cheese, which I also wanted because I can use it when baking instead of foil, or to wrap stuff at home. (I want to reduce plastic wrap and other at-home disposables.)
I got home around seven with $70 worth of stuff, including dog chicken (my dog eats raw legs, will discuss in another post). Now it was time to cook! Fortunately, Scott and I eat really late and stay up even later, and I'm very fast in the kitchen, but this was going to be a challenge.
Next posts, cooking and recipes.