After only two weeks, I went to the grocery store. I could’ve made it longer if I was truly out of cash (and SNAP benefits), but, I wasn’t. I got some staples and some fresh fruits and vegetables. And fig newtons (“fig bars“) because my younger daughter had asked to try them a few days before. On Saturday, I stocked up at BJs on some bulk items. Out of habit, I bought paper towels (that I returned before I left the parking lot). I ran out when I wasn’t going to the market and I’ve become a no-paper-towels aficionado.
The length of time I go without visiting the grocery store may not be impressive. Despite this, the life changes for me have been significant. I value leftovers. My cooking is more efficient. I know (pretty well) what’s in my refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. I don’t get sucked into “screw it, I’m ordering a pizza.” We eat much, much, much better (whole) foods.
I suspected my cooking habits would return to the glory days when I was a new mother with my first daughter. Freezing garden harvests, quinoa with molasses for breakfast, yoghurt in the crockpot. What I didn’t predict at all was the impact on my garbage.
After picking a bushel of apples only to find they were infested with grubs, I needed to get rid of them. Certainly, I wasn’t going to put them all in the trash. I found a place for them (a woman who lives by the Starbucks I work at who has chickens and, it turns out, horses). I was nudged into finally signing up for Garbage to Garden. My ex-husband and his fiancé have been using this service for ages. Now that I’m using it, I can’t say enough good things. It’s amazing. AMAZING.
Garbage to Garden: $11/month, a large plastic tub with a lid, all my organic waste goes in there, put it out with the trash, it gets picked up, new plastic tub is left for me. I also put out a jar with cooking oil (I made potato chips) that will be used in making biofuel.
One significant effect of the no-groceries challenge, combined with Garbage to Garden is visually stunning to me:
That’s it. That’s our family’s garbage for the week. Mostly recycling, a 1/3 full Garbage to Garden, and one very not-full garbage bag. We used to have at least two, if not three bags so full I had to double bag them and put duct tape on the bottom. We rolled out our big trash can to hold the bags. Twice I dealt with maggots because the trash collectors don’t deal with broken bags (and I found that out the first time in the summer, once I just didn’t notice the broken bag was still in there).
Assuming this will be a pattern, that I stick to mostly not going to the market for a couple weeks, then I buy staples, some fresh fruit and vegetables, and some treats (school lunches, etc.), then I waft back into “I’ll just grab some bread since we’re almost out…” ending up with $75 of groceries. I’ll return to the “no groceries” challenge for myself. Restart. In any case, it’s one of the best things I’ve done for me and my family in a long time.
(Plus, the meat share I’ve been making payments on for several months starts delivery soon! Yay! I’ve not bought meat for ages. I simply can’t stomach eating miserable, disgusting, tortured, unhealthy meat.)