Most Americans make weekly trips to the supermarket, with "fill-in" trips to specialty places or nearby markets for the basics. You buy a little here, a little there, and soon enough, pantry and freezer are full.
After a study found that the average Scottish family throws away more than $800 of food a year and that British families spend $,1000 on wasted food, Britain began a nationwide campaign in December, called Love Food Hate Waste, to buy less and throw away less food. If everyone wasted less food, one in four cars on the road could be eliminated, campaigners estimate.
Similarly, eGullet, a site for serious food and cooking enthusiasts, has held two Don't Shop Now weeks to encourage members and visitors to end stockpiling, buy what you need, and use it up. Because when food sits in the pantry and fridge for months, its "sell by" date approaches. And when that happens, it's far likelier to be thrown into the trash.
(That was also the finding of the British survey. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign includes an effort to educate consumers on the differences between "sell by," "use by," and "expiration" dates that's worth looking at.)
At the end of eGullet's week without shopping, one participant wrote,"I hadn't bought any new groceries -- and, lo and behold, no harm had befallen my family. My refrigerator, freezer and pantry, I realized, had been overflowing with edible food. Why had I been saving all this stuff, I wondered, when I could have been eating it?
We're doing this now at our house, and it's making for some pretty unusual meals -- rumaki made with chinese sausage, turkey bacon and the year-old can of water chestnuts. Tomorrow night's thawed chicken thighs will be done in blueberry sauvignon syrup, and served with ... hmmm... maybe rice noodles in satay sauce from a jar. Stir-fried frozen green beans with Quorn may have to wait until another night.
If you want to join me in what commenter claudia once termed "eating down the house," start on a Monday and report back on this thread. For tips, visit the Love Food Hate Waste website and the comments on the eGullet "Don't Shop Now" threads.