Friday, January 21, 2011

Erin's Low Impact Grocery Shopping and Food Waste Friday

My headache lasted for 8 hours following my first ever real experience with a no packaging diet.  For anyone interested in following our path, DO NOT try with a grumpy 21/2 year old at nap time, and a 7 year old who would rather be snowboarding!  It was horrible trying to find local food, trying to read the fine print, translating it to English since I live in a French province, and making sure we could afford it with the two of them in tow. 
We try to keep our grocery budget around $100 per week, but many weeks we are over.  In the past, it has usually gone over due to convenience on the go snacks.  Hannah’s schedule consists of 2 days a week of back to back: school and gymnastics.  Therefore, we pack a variety of snacks to sustain her through the day.  When I say sustain, I am not including the chocolate sugar coated granola bar with fake marshmallows inside…that’s just for her mental health.  When eating as a group and everyone else has a fun snack, it is easy to feel left out.  I think we are regularly going to have to send her with excess strawberries, watermelon, and blueberries to share with her friends instead. 
What was interesting was that when I put her in charge of the shopping, and had a treasure hunt, she made some surprising decisions.  One decision we came to together, that local food was not something we could handle at the beginning of January with no preparation from the season before.  We decided that no packaging was a challenge on its own, and the local can be a challenge in the spring till the end of the year, although we will keep searching and do the best we can.  She also decided that even though she absolutely loves Fruit by the Foot (which we never buy, and she hasn’t had one in sooo long-her words) that she would be happy (with a frown on) to try making fruit roll ups from scratch.  I have no idea how to do this…and am devilishly hoping she will forget for a few weeks.  I reminded her that she is allowed to cheat twice, once before June and once from Sept-Dec and get to buy one snack item that she wants.  Let us pray that it’s not those disgusting gushers!
We made progress on our first trip but as you can tell from the picture there is some packaging that we are in the process of figuring out how to avoid. Although, the small bags in the left hand corner are small composteable bags to get your bulk food in.  Plus I purchased a few of their reusable bags that we will have forever.  

The next challenges are to figure out a local farm that can supply us our chicken, milk and cheese.  Thankfully we can purchase local pork and beef at the grocery store with our own containers.  Plus, I am not sure why I didn’t look for local apple cider instead of the tetra packs of juice?  But remembered the next time
One of our friend’s Jo has graciously offered to pick up local eggs when she visits her friend.  I need to drop off our egg cartons so she can trade them at pick up.

Here are some more pics…it’s getting easier each time we go…

2nd Attempt was much easier,
and I was alone 
3rd attempt even better, picked up
ingredients to make our own yogurt
Sun chips come in a compostable bags
and Hannah loves them.  As a trade
off for her new eating habits, she can
automatically just put them in the cart,
no need to ask us:)

As for Food Waste Friday I am happy to announce that we only had one piece of bread spoil, and a few muffins.  Those muffins however were made in a rush and I mixed up the baking soda and baking powder- Adam didn't tell me they tasted disgusting till only a few were left.  Sweet, sweet man I have.  Plus he made croutons with the ends of all the bread this week.


  1. I just found your blog and I must say you should be very proud of yourselves! Every week I am astounded at the garbage my family generates .. Okay I have the opposite of a hoarders problem and can't stand junk around .. but seriously I throw out like two bags of garbage a day! It's gross ... keep up the good work!

  2. I had to go and look up what fruit by the foot was but from what wiki has told me about it, it sounds like type of mass-produced fruit leather. So easy to make but you may need to get your hands on a dehydrator (you might find one on freecycle or in a charity shop, it's the kind of thing lots of people buy from late night telly, use for a while and then shove in a cupboard and forget about). It is possible to use a very low oven with a slightly open door overnight to dry stuff but I've never done that.

    Anyway, a fruit leather is basically a puree of fruit, often apple plus something else. You add the juice of a lemon to the fruit and cook the fruit down to a soft puree then put it through a sieve or mouli, add some honey and mix it in well and that is more or less it. After that you just need to spread it out thinly on your trays and dry it, either in your oven (according to my River Cottage book on about 60 degrees celsius for 12-18 hours), or in a dehydrator for about 6-8 hours (that's based on my small westfalia dehydrator).

    Anyway, that's probably more information than you needed for now. Google fruit leathers or get some books from the library about preserving and keep it in mind for when the soft fruit hits the markets in summer.

  3. And, yes, I do have a tendency to completely overuse the word 'anyway'! :)

  4. Thanks so much....I'm going to check my mother in laws basement, she loves the home shopping network;)