Our Zero-Waste Thanksgiving (November Recap)

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I started seeing a lot of posts on food waste. Some of the facts were just plain staggering: 204 million pounds of turkey wasted, $293 million in food tossed out on just this one day alone. We had already decided to skip the turkey and host a meal that we hoped would be consumed in its entirety on Thanksgiving Day – no leftovers – but reading these ridiculous stats gave us another idea.

Regardless of whether or not we clean our plates, the sad fact remains – the holidays are just one (albeit extreme) example of food waste. Every single day, grocery stores toss out perfectly good food because it looks bad, because one apple in the bag is rotten, because it’s close to expiration, or believe it or not, because they no longer have shelf space for that particular item! Living next to a grocery store, we see this all the time. If you’ve followed our blog for very long, you know that we are unashamed of the fact that we often rescue food from the dumpster. It’s our tiny contribution to saving the planet and feeding our neighbors in need.

So for Thanksgiving we decided to make our meal from rescued food. This included both dumpster finds and anything on the last chance/quick sale rack of our local grocer. In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, we visited the two grocery stores next door almost every day. From the dumpster,  we managed to score a 10# bag of Russet potatoes, 2 dozen eggs, a pound of carrots, 7 yellow onions, 2 red onions, a 3# bag of Granny Smith apples, a bag of brown ‘n serve rolls, an orange, and a 16 oz. bag of fresh cranberries. From the quick sale rack, we purchased an organic Spring Mix salad ($2.99) and a bag of flour ($1). We were able to rescue almost every item on our menu, with the exception of a chicken, fresh tomatoes, and a cucumber.

With these items, we created a delicious dinner consisting of 2 chicken pot pies, a garden salad, a cranberry-apple compote, deviled eggs, rolls, and an apple pie. (And breakfast the next day – fresh cranberry muffins!).

The dinner was a success and almost every bite was eaten that day (the exception was the salad, which we munched on for the next two days, and the deviled eggs, which became egg salad sandwiches). We feel really good about what we were able to rescue and the folks we served, they were more flabbergasted by the amount of food we found than they were about where it was found. In fact, I’ve even had 2 requests for another “Dumpster Apple Pie” LOL.

Thanksgiving may have been the highlight of our month, but along with our frugal food adventures, we were also able to make progress on our other goals.

  • We added 47.4 miles to our walking total. We stand at 845.2 miles for the year.
  • We enjoyed 14 completely meatless days (or 71 vegetarian meals) this month.
  • We earned $107.80 (cash) and $85.63 in Amazon gift cards through side hustles.
  • We decluttered 7 more items, mostly winter coats, which we donated to charity.

I have most of the month of December off from work and lots of ideas of how I want to spend that time. Reading, relaxing, and trying some new recipes (probably using rescued foods) tops the list. Spending time with loved ones and taking in some of the sights and sounds of the holidays comes in a close second. And of course, there’s one final round of decluttering left to do and a lot of walking, if we want to reach our goals for the year!

How will you spend your December?

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A Table for Ticky

One day this summer, as we were driving past the dumpster, Angie spotted what looked like a folding table sitting off to the side. We stopped to find a pink Minnie Mouse table with a huge rip across Minnie’s face. Angie hesitated. “Grab it,” I said. “We can always tape over the hole. Little kids don’t care anyway.” And so we did just that.

Ticky thought it was great. She ate snacks on it and used it as a desk to color her pictures.

A few nights ago we got the bright idea to make Ticky’s table even more useful. Well technically, we were inspired by Ticky’s fascination with the chalkboard on our fridge.

We unscrewed the top from the base. Easy peasy! And painted it with 3 coats of chalkboard paint (which we got for $3 with a coupon at Michael’s).

The end result was fabulous. The two grown up kids (aka me and Angie) couldn’t wait for it to dry just to try it out.

We added a zipper bag to hold the chalk and eraser and now it’s all ready for a Ticky test drive on Wednesday.

It was a simple project but it made us feel pretty good. We saved another object from the landfill and turned it into something to be enjoyed for at least a few more years.