Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Don't use it? Don't buy it!

The nubmer one rule of wise shopping is Don't Buy What You Don't Use (or would like to use but haven't quite figured how, or don't have time to process, etc). Even if it's a good deal. Even if it's a really, really great deal. Actually, if something isn't going to be used, I wouldn't take it even for free. Why waste valuable space? I like it when my fridge, freezer and pantry are well-organized, with space to spare - not so clogged up I can hardly see what's in there. 

This rule is especially true for fresh produce (though for us Jews, Passover puts some extra limit on our magpie-like tendencies as well. There is no point to stock up on pasta if Pesach is just around the corner). Just today, I opened the fridge to see ten sad-looking eggplants on the shelf, and one that rather resembled a Petri dish (I chucked it straight into the garbage bin, though perhaps I should have taken a photo). Of course, I can think straight off the bat of a dozen things to do with eggplant. It's so incredibly versatile, it can be made into all kinds of dips, quiches, stir-frys, lasagna, etc... but I already started my cooking plan for the day, and I knew I will not be able to squeeze eggplant into it. Also, for lasagna I would need hard cheese and other things I currently don't have on hand. 

So, how did it happen that I have ten eggplants in the fridge, and they aren't exactly new residents, either? Easy; generally, I use 2-3 eggplants per week. My husband, however, finds it hard to resist these big glossy vegetables and buys, on average, 4-5 per week, even when they are not on the shopping list. So... they hang around until they aren't so glossy anymore. 

Lesson learned: when buying fresh produce, make a realistic estimate of how much of it you can use or preserve in a reasonable amount of time. For example, you can do a lot of wonderful things with bananas (banana bread, cake, smoothies, etc), but if you aren't into baking right now, or just think, upon honest reflection, that you will not be able to do it, better not buy it. Of course, if somehow these sneaky fruit do end up in your home ("they just fell into my shopping cart and I didn't even notice!"), and your kitchen looks like a fruit market, you can be a good sport and do your best to use it up. 

Other useful rules:

Don't buy it if it's not good for your health, even if it's cheap. 

There is hardly any point to buy more of something if you think it will only get used up faster. We have this scientific law in our home that states The Milk Will Run Out In Two Days. It hardly matters how much we buy. It will still all be gone, and I'll say, "I wish we could have milking goats again. No, no, of course I'm not serious. No, I don't want to go and have a look at that very cute Alpine doe, because I know I will once again find myself with more animals than I can handle." 


Lady Anne said...

I think your husband and mine are related. Either that, or it's just a "man thing". I mentioned the other day that The Squire tends to bring home far, far too much of a single item because it was a good buy. And they joke about women buying something "because it was on sale".

You asked about using up odd things. Celery is my big problem. I really only use the leaves for soup, and then I have a lot of stalks left over. Anyone have any ideas what to do with excess celery?

Anonymous said...

Well said Anna, By G_d's grace we have been brought through a season where we have no fridge or washing machine and do all our laundry by hand. Needless to say we have been very careful with purchases saved and always look well put together.

May G_d continue to bless your house!


Mrs. Anna T said...

Lady Anne, I thought about it and perhaps it's a provider thing - wanting to make sure we always have all we need! It is a noble feeling that makes my husband stuff both freezers and all the cupboards like we are going to face a siege soon. :o)

maria smith said...

I agree with you! I hate filling up the house with clutter. We're pretty strict on clutter in our home. We take our deep cleaning very seriously around here! At least twice a year we get rid of everything we don't use/need.

Anonymous said...

When I have excess celery, I cut it up in small pieces and spread it out on wax paper on a cookie sheet and freeze it. When it is frozen I put it in a bag or freezer container and then grab a handful to season meat or whatever when I need it.

Anonymous said...

Now what to do with our leftover scrambled eggs! It's like the flip side of your 2-day milk conundrum. It started with my making a nice breakfast, factoring in 2 eggs per person. There were eggs left over. next time I factored in two fewer eggs. There were eggs left over. I swear I could make one egg and there would be leftovers! I usually put them in dirty rice for future breakfasts, lunches and snacks - and that gets gobbled up right away!

- Sally

Lady Anne said...

With my folks, it was mashed potatoes. It didn't matter if my mom fixed four potatoes or four pounds (well, that's an exaggeration) there were never leftovers. If she wanted to make potato pancakes, she had to take out what she thought she'd need before she ever put them on the table.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

I saw a great tip the other day about making the most of lemons. If you have a bag of them and know they are going south, or soon will, rasp off the zest and pile it all in a sandwich bag, then place it in the freezer. If a recipe calls for zest, you've got it! And as for the juice, squeeze all the lemons into a measuring cup with a spout. Then, carefully fill an ice cube tray with the juice and freeze as well. Perfect for when you need lemon juice but don't have any lemons on hand!

lavender garden said...

great advice- thanks!