2nd Quarter Progress to Goals

At the beginning of the year, we set two goals, which are featured in the post: Better Me, Better World. As the 2nd quarter draws to a close, we have had some successes in working toward these goals and some areas that are in definite need of improvement. Unplanned spending has been a hurdle in the Better Me area and food waste has been more of a problem than we imagined when we set our Better World goal. Here’s how things went:

Better Me

Goal: Live simply. Prove that we can live a happy, healthy, and prosperous life with less. 

Set a budget and stick to it. Strive for no unplanned spending.

So…this did not happen. The budget part, yes. We came up with a great budget at the beginning of the year and aside from a few minor tweaks, it’s been working well for us. The problem has been that the budget only accounts for my regular income, not our side hustles or proceeds from decluttering. We had $270 in sales on OfferUp and $1,833 in side hustle income this quarter. A large chunk of our extra income went to our travel fund. The rest to “unplanned spending”. We purchased a few items of clothing (mostly undergarments), a cork bulletin board, and two life vests for kayaking that were not on our list, along with a whole lot of food. We went kind of crazy at Sprouts. We also had to take our cat to the vet twice. Though we have a pet fund, the little guy has exhausted that this year, and then some.

Buy used when possible.

When the thrift store wants to charge $5 more for a used life vest than what a new one costs at Walmart, I’m sorry to say, Walmart wins. I know it’s not the best choice environmentally, but it was the best choice for our budget. We did opt to buy a couple of golf clubs at Goodwill (99 cents each) rather then renting them at the driving range.

Eat a mostly plant-based diet, with no more than 10% of meals containing meat.

Woo-hoo! YES! Finally, we did something right! We had 76 completely meatless days (out of 91) or 258 meatless meals. We prepared ZERO meals at home that contained meat. I’m really surprised that we made it through 2 weeks of separate visits with our parents (and Angie in Texas, no less) without eating more meats. My mom cooked several all veggie meals for me while Angie was gone and though her parents weren’t thrilled with the “no meat” plan, they only insisted on Angie eating the same dinner as them just once. In total, only 9% of our meals contained meat.

Do something active 3 times a week.

See, I told you we’d do better this quarter! We walked/hiked 74.7 miles. We hit golf balls at the driving range. Our summer chores – mowing, weeding, gardening – have ramped up and we’re spending at least 5-6 hours a week in the yard/garden. Angie did some woodworking with her mom and helped with the farm chores (feeding the chickens and horse) while she was away. My visit with my mom was a little less active though. We did some sewing projects and puttered around in the yard in the evenings.

Better World

Goal: Zero-food-waste. Prove that one couple can have an impact in reducing global food waste.

Plan meals.

As always, this is a work in progress. We’ve done fairly well with planning meals since CSA season started though.

Continue food rescue.

The grocery store next door is back open and we’re up to 279 pounds of rescued food so far this year. We’re also volunteering with Society of St. Andrew to glean the Nashville Farmer’s Market once a month and have gathered 90.25 pounds of produce for the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Shop reduced-to-clear/quick-sale items first when grocery shopping.

Angie almost got tackled by an old man when she reached for a bag of cherries in the reduced-to-clear bin last week. Aside from that, we’ve had much success in finding most of our potatoes, onions, fruits, and breads there.

Buy local foods.

Along with our CSA basket, we’ve been visiting our Saturday Farmer’s Market and a few farm stands throughout the week to source our fresh produce. Today, we’re off to the U-pick to get a few gallons of blackberries for the freezer.

Grow a garden.

Yep, we got that covered. We have tomatoes, peppers, black-eyed peas, green beans, squash, zucchini, sunflowers, blackberries, and a mystery plant (from compost) that may or may not be a cantaloupe.

Compost year-round.

So far so good! Angie even started a worm bin a few months ago with some pitiful looking fishing worms from Walmart. I had zero expectation of their survival but somehow, she has managed to turn them into thriving (and fat) worms.

When we set our goal to have zero food waste, we anticipated that it would be easy, since we are in control of our food choices, right? Turns out, that’s not always the case. In 6 months, we’ve wasted 7.15 pounds of food, a good bit of which was prepared for us by someone else. Since starting to eat more of a plant-based diet a few years ago, we’ve cut out a lot of sweets and God love them, both sets of our parents are sweet junkies! My mom bakes a mean cake and her cobblers are out of this world but after one piece, she usually gives the rest to us. There’s just no way we can eat all of them. I’ve tried freezing pieces for later but later never comes before the next cake appears. I’ve given some to the wildlife, but chocolate is not good for them so where do those cakes go? Sadly, to waste! It horrifies me every time I have to write down yet another ounce of wasted food but we’re at a loss on what else to do with them.

What were your goals for this quarter? Did you achieve them? We’re there any surprises or setbacks?

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CSA Basket Suppers

We will be picking up our 5th CSA basket of the season today. Already we’ve gotten to experience a few new items, mixed with an abundance of old favorites. Last week’s newbie was snow peas. I know many of you have probably been eating snow peas since the dawn of time but we have not (the occasional pea pod in our Chinese take-out does not count). This was our first time to prepare them at home and I promise, it will not be the last. Those things are delicious!

Last summer, we made the mistake of signing up for two CSA programs, thinking that we would eat what we could and freeze the rest for the winter. Along that same line, we shopped the Farmer’s Market weekly and visited countless local farm stands. AND we grew a garden with 32 tomato plants! We had so much food that we had to buy a second freezer. But when winter rolled around, we found it hard to get to the freezer foods because we were knee deep in rescued foods too.

Our new freezer by the end of August

When both of our freezers became packed, we starting contemplating moving items to my mom’s house. Then one morning in the middle of January, the insanity of it all settled in. We’re not prepping for a zombie apocalypse. We aren’t feeding a family of 10. We don’t live in a place that gets 8 feet of snow and we aren’t 50 miles from the nearest town. We live next door to a Walmart for Pete’s sake! In short, we weren’t going to starve to death if we didn’t have food in the freezer. We soon realized that without some concerted effort, there was just no way the two of us were  going to plow through our back stock before this summer. Let’s just say, February and March were the “squash and okra” months at our house.

This year we made some adjustments. We sold our older freezer. We signed up for one small CSA basket and we planted a very small garden – 8 tomato plants, 4 squash, 7 pepper plants, and a short row of cow peas and green beans. That leaves plenty of room for weekly visits to the market and farm stands. Our overall goal though – to eat 100% of what we receive in our basket (or buy at the market) each week. No freezing. We do plan to can and freeze a reasonable amount of produce for winter but we’ve decided to see what our garden yields before buying anything extra.

Our small garden:

To make the most of our basket contents, we’ve been trying some new recipes:

Snow peas with squash and pepper

You can serve this as a side dish or atop of bowl of brown rice for a complete meal. The recipe is easy – 1-2 squash (cubed), 1 pepper sliced in strips, and a pound of snow peas (washed and trimmed). Saute in avocado oil until the squash is tender. Season with salt and pepper (or your favorite seasoning).

Veggie Pizza

Angie makes an amazing quick homemade pizza crust using this recipe but any pizza crust will work. We topped ours with onions, bell peppers, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Bake 10 minutes and enjoy!

Spinach Zucchini Soup

I was searching for “what to do with an avocado you forgot you had” when I came across this recipe. It has absolutely nothing to do with an avocado but Google obviously thought it was something I needed to try. Thanks, Google! I made a few adaptations to the recipe though. I left out the cheese and instead of half and half, I just added more water. I also subbed in trattole noodles for the cheese tortellini. While it may seem like I was avoiding the use of dairy, in reality, I just didn’t want to go to the store. The soup was great.

Summer Salad

When in doubt, we make a salad. This one contains green and red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, broccoli and radish sprouts, and a boiled egg. Everything except the vinaigrette dressing came from our basket or the Saturday market.

So far, so good on our goal. We haven’t stuck anything in the freezer to avoid cooking it and we are eating 90% of our basket items in the week they were received. Of course, the real test will be the next two weeks when Angie is in Texas and it’s just me and the basket. Hopefully we don’t get a dozen squash!

What are some of your favorite recipes for seasonal fruits and veggies?

Food Waste Update

  • Wasted Food this week: 1 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 51 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   93 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  279.02 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.