Monday, May 11, 2020

Waste not, want not...


HALLIE EPHRON: I knew I’d been in lock-down for too long when my toaster caught fire and I went running around looking for… my camera.

As someone who once pooh-poohed Facebook, it’s now my life line. After dumping said toaster in the trash, I did not jump onto Amazon and search for the best price for a replacement (free shipping!) I went to the web site of my local hardware store and paid what they were asking plus shipping. Because I want local businesses to still be there when we all crawl out from the bunker.


Besides, what else am I spending my money on? I’m not eating out, not driving anywhere, living in my sweats, and appreciating the bounty that comes with a once-a-month Peapod order that I have to get up at midnight to snag. 

I’m determined to use every scrap, stem and skin of the food I’m lucky enough to score. This week I froze an overripe banana. (Someday: banana bread.) Cut off the rotten half of an apple and made a dessert  crumble with the good half, some frozen berries from the fridge, and Lucy’s Granola. Counted tangerines before I ate one, to be sure they’d last until my shopping order comes next week. And filled yet another plastic bag with… plastic bags, trusting that some day I will feel comfortable actually going to the supermarket and putting my accumulated bounty in their recycle bin. My freezer is packed but organized  because knowing what’s in there and when it went in is critical to getting through a month between food deliveries.

However, this orderly frugality does not go so far as an article in the New York Times suggested, dying my clothes using food scraps. Yes, you can dye a cotton T-shirt with the water you cooked beets in… something which I had long ago inadvertently discovered to be true. That, my friends, is a bridge too far

How have you changed your habits in lockdown, and have you found your outer limit when it comes to waste-not want-not?


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I am trying to think of this as amusing,when it really isn’t. But I am riveted by sell-by/use-by dates, and am eagle-eyeing which container of precious milk Jonathan is about to open. 

“We have to eat THIS lettuce first,” I say. “And we’ll eat half the green beans and freeze the rest. Each person gets half a chicken breast, not a whole one.” 
Alexa,weirdly, is my go-to. “Alexa,” I’ll say out loud,”How do you freeze carrots?” And she knows. I have never blanched more vegetables in my life.

I know I told you about growing green onions from the snipped off roots. Which worked, briefly, and then smelled. HORRIBLE. I don’t  recommend it.

(HALLIE: Here's my scallions, grown according to Hank's directions... jury is still out.)

I have concocted all kinds of dishes from leftovers, leftover grilled chicken with roasted carrots in mustard sauce--make enough for two meals, freeze half) , penne with grilled brussels sprouts and lemon zest. (DItto on freeze-half.)  I made croutons from frozen hot dog buns left over from last July.
 I really grimaced when we ran out of capers (I know, first world, but we had them before) and WITHOUT THINKING,  I dumped out the caper juice. And then I  thought--NOOOO! I could have done something with that!  I am still hoarding egg yolks, which I truly think is your bridge too far, Hallie.

And I am swooning with sorrow over having to throw away the nice plastic bags that the delivered groceries come in,because YOU NEVER KNOW.  (And I have frozen browning bananas, too. In the freezer, next to the egg yolks.) 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I have long had some extremely frugal habits, inherited via my mother, who got them from her mother, who made it through the Great Depression with three daughters and a husband whose business failed - and see, now we’re entering another such period (my vote for its name: the Biggest Recession) and three lifetimes of rinsing tin foil and reusing paper bags pays off!

I’m spending more on groceries, because I used to comparison shop, and load up on sale items and day-olds, and now it’s just “what do they have that we want” at Target and at a once-a-month run to our local grocery store. But I’m amazed to find I still have way more money in my account than usual I’ve never thought of myself as a consumer - I don’t shop for fun, and I thought I kept a pretty tight hold on my pursestrings, but it’s eye-opening to see how much more I have when I can’t go to the movies/eat out/casually grab a pizza/meet friends for drinks. 

I’m saving seeds from bell peppers and butternut squash, which I can plant in seedling pots (already hoarded) with potting soil (ditto.) I’m growing carrots from the cut off tops like Hank - Hank, what do I do now they’re sprouting greenery? And I’ve cut up a ragged pair of pajama bottoms and an old t-shirt into still more rags, so we can save the paper towels for truly gross stuff, like when one of the cats barf.

Our big re-use is with cardboard boxes. We’re getting far more deliveries than usual, with fits hand-in-glove with the Maine Millennial ramping up her eBay business. (She sells books, magazines and model kits she inherited from her uncle.) Every single box delivered to our house is used to mail out another delivery to someone else’s house. Sometimes, she cuts down the big ones or makes a larger one out of two smaller boxes. So I guess I should say there are FOUR lifetimes of Great Depression behavior in action at our house.

RHYS BOWEN: I live with a man who grew up in the war years! I’ve had to stop him from rinsing out and hoarding every glass bottle since day one. We certainly are not wasting any food, keeping the freezer full. I ordered green beans and they delivered 4 pounds! So John blanched and froze most of them. I ordered ground beef and they delivered five pounds so we’ve been working our way through that. But I’m not growing onions or dying old clothes!
I find I don’t think of the cost of any food I order. We’re not eating out/ driving so saving money. And I find I don’t want to buy clothes etc. I see ads for a cute dress and think that I have too many clothes already. How boring we’ve become. And of course not spending money on travel. My only splurge is a Yamaha keyboard so I can play piano.

JENN McKINLAY: I am on deadline. I do not have the free time that frugality requires. Plus, I have teenagers, so (said in Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey voice) “What are leftovers?” Three pounds of chicken for fajitas last night and there wasn’t a scrap left. I had to apologize to the dogs. LOL. I am very frugal by nature (Scottish) so there’s not much that’s changing around here.

We are hardcore recyclers, composters, and reusers of stuff. One of my post deadline projects is to repurpose an old bed frame to fence in the garden, which has been expanded this year, so there’s that. 

LUCY BURDETTE: We have decided to head north soon for the summer (and who knows how long after), so I’m using all the things in the freezer. A LOT of chicken rice soup that I made in case we got sick. We had it three days in a row last week and we are sick of that soup! I also see some mashed sweet potatoes--will they be worth eating? And Hank’s egg whites. Sigh. I think they are going to have to go because I’m done with baking for now…

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Although my mother grew up during the Depression she was not particularly frugal in her food shopping. Although she loved consignment shops and charity sales, I never saw her save a coupon or plan a food budget, and she loved to buy expensive seafood in particular. These habits I am afraid she handed down to me, sigh, and now with the online ordering I think I'm spending more money on food than ever because you never know what you are actually going to get..

HOWEVER, I'm not spending money on much else. No clothes shopping, no meals out, no hair appointments, no manicure/pedicures. I haven't even spent much on the garden this year, which is normally my big spring splurge. And of course, no travel. I am trying to save every last bit of everything, and stuffing the freezer with leftovers.

HALLIE: So how about the rest of us? Have your habits changed in lockdown? Are you scrimping or splurging... or both? If you're feeling flush, donate to your local food bank. There's a lot of folks out there with much bigger issues than how to tie-dye T-shirts with beet juice.

91 comments:

  1. We’re not down to dying clothes with beet juice yet, but we are careful not to be wasteful. We’ve always been reasonably frugal and we know a gazillion things to make from leftovers, so things haven’t changed much in that regard. Cooking hasn’t changed much; we blanch and freeze, we use what we have. We’re growing herbs [and petunias and daisies] on the front porch, so there’s always something available to spice up a dish . . . .

    In an effort to support the local restaurants, we order take out at least once a week. It doesn’t do much damage to the food budget, because we’re not buying much else [except for stuff I think the grandbabies would like to have whenever we finally get to visit . . . there’s a roaring dinosaur sitting in our living room waiting to be delivered to the dinosaur-loving five-year-old who will happily regale me with all the things he knows about triceratops] . . . .

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    1. Wait a minute... a roaring dinosaur, you say? I've got a four-year-old who would LOVE that. Seriously. Tell me more... getting out my credit card now.

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    2. Brand: Jurassic World by Mattel
      Type: Primal Attack: Sound Strike Triceratops
      I found it on sale at Target when I was picking up some groceries, but I’m sure you could find it in just about any store’s toy department . . . .
      Here’s the Mattel link for information: https://shop.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ms/%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8Bjurassic-world-sound-strike-triceratops-gjn65

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  2. I am doing an odd mixture of scrimping and splurging.

    Definitely using more kitchen scraps that do not go into the compost for homemade stock and soups (since it has been so cold this spring). I have tried the scallions trick before with limited success.

    One food splurge I used in April was trying the Hello Fresh food delivery service. Instacart and the other grocery deiivery services were overwhelmed and often had missed items in my delivery I needed badly (flour). So I tried HelloFresh for 3 weeks (9 meals). The meal selection and recipes were good. And the delivery packaging was more environmentally friendly and their delivery timing was prompt (before noon). But after 3 weeks, I have paused the Hello Fresh delivery until June.

    Our local hardware stores opened for the first time since the March lockdown on Saturday. Well, they were supposed to open...I went to mine on Sunday. The neon OPEN sign was lit but the place was locked down and dark (sigh). I wanted to buy soil and rail for my balcony to expand my herbs and veggies grown on the balcony but no luck.

    I am buying a lot more books ($100s) both digital and ebooks ...kind of a splurge since my regular reading source the past 2 years had been ARCS and library books. Although most won't be read anytime soon, it is important to support authors during this time.

    And I bought 2 pairs of running shoes and 3 pairs of sandals since I know I will be doing a lot more walking once the lockdown ends. I normally wear out a pair of running shoes in 2-3 months with my solo/walking group daily treks.

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    1. More typos above...should read "rail planters".
      And the running shoes and sandals were 50-60% off the regular price so I am not sure whether it is a splurge!

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    2. Taking notes... The only thing folks around us are doing now is running. I've never been a huge fan of living in the suburbs, as we do, until now.

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    3. thanks for buying books and supporting authors Grace!!

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    4. And also supporting our national (Indigo) and local bookstores!

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  3. Onion skins also make a lovely golden dye. Been there, done that. Just saying. Not planning to do it! Like Julia, I have a lifetime of being frugal, learned from my parents, from being a graduate student, from being a Scot, and just because it makes sense. So not much has changed there.

    Like Grace, I'm buying a lot more books. The library is closed, and I can get some books on a kindle loan. But I really don't want our local indy to go under, and they deliver!

    We haven't gotten takeout much. Our favorite bistro has closed, so we sent them a couple hundred dollars. They'll have a gift certificate waiting when they reopen, and maybe we'll cash it in and maybe we won't. And we're being more generous than usual with our local food charities. Because, as you all said, we're not spending on anything else except food and (curbside pickup) alcohol.

    I'm just so excited that the local growing season is upon us. My two local farm stands are open (and are being safe with masks and limiting shoppers), I have lettuce, greens, and peas in one garden bed, and other seeds started. I can get local eggs again. This makes me happy.

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    1. I am envious of you being able to buy from your local food stands, Edith. Our Farmers Markets are still closed, so as discussed in an earlier post, no ability to buy spring veggies such as garlic ramps and fiddleheads (sigh). After 6 years, my large rosemary plant died so I need a replacement plant but no herbs from the closed farmers markets. Garden centres and nurseries opened on Friday but it is still pretty early in the season, so I may not be able to get a new plant until June.

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    2. My kids and grands are in Brooklyn and weirdly, their local farmer's market has continued to function. With new rules and social distancing, but every week. That and their local bakery that takes orders on their web site and you go in one at a time to pick up.

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  4. We are doing much the same as all the rest of you. We've always tried to avoid wasting food, so there's nothing different there. Our pet/house sitter/dear friend has been bringing us groceries about every ten days, and if what we order isn't available, she calls to ask about substitutions. What we've noticed is that our groceries cost much less, about half. What does that say about impulse buying!

    We ordered takeout once, but we haven't really done our part to support our local restaurants, must correct that.

    The big thing that is different is cash. I'm accustomed to going by the bank ATM and getting $300 once or twice a month, for walking around money. The last time I did that was March 17, and I still have $140 in my wallet! It's the middle of May! I've also noticed my credit card bills are about half the usual, even though I order books with abandon and anything else I want. So I'm definitely spending less, much less than before.

    It's a whole different world.

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    1. Cash is something I need. I like to give the grocery deliverer an extra cash tip on top of what I do when I place the order. And since my order right now exceeds $400 (4 weeks) I need to go to the bank for cash. *GO TO THE BANK* *IN PERSON* Cue scary music.

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    2. Wear a mask, go to the drive by ATM, take your hand sanitizer, wear disposable glove to punch in numbers, and then dispose of the glove, used hand sanitizer and go home! If you like, you can wipe off the cash with alcohol or a bleach solution. Ot toss it all in the washing machines with the towels. I've accidentally washed and dryed cash many times! It's called money laundering!

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    3. Odd, I am the opposite, using very little cash...$60 in the past 2 months. Farmers markets were the few places that were mostly CASH ONLY but they are closed. And everything else I am ordering including grocery delivery is contactless payment (credit card tap, or online payment in advance).

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    4. Hallie—Usually there’s a place to increase the tip on the order thing, and apparently they get the whole thing.
      Although I like to give cash, too. Somehow that seems more personal.

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    5. Cash may be personal but the dollar bills are sooo germy!

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    6. Ann, your money laundering made me laugh out loud !

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    7. Hallie, I walk up to the drive-through window when I need to make a deposit (or get cash, which I haven't needed to yet). No contact!

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    8. Hallie, just so you know, delivery people do NOT want cash. It has more potential for passing on the virus.

      My nephew has stopped delivering pizzas now, because he is full-time homeschooling two kids (and teaching three languages, two of which he doesn't speak, including Chinese). But he was really unhappy with people trying to tip him with cash, especially when the order was already paid for via credit card on the phone.

      So if possible, add your tip to your credit card order in the first place.

      Ann, you crack me up!

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    9. Oh, Karen..that is SO instructive! THANK YOU!

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  5. Roberta, what about using the mashed sweet potatoes in some kind of bread? Like banana bread, but swapping out the bananas for the mashed sweets. That actually sounds good to me. Also: road food!

    I've always been frugal, since I grew up with more imagination than cash or other amenities. And most of the time I enjoy the challenge of not wasting things. We have recycled and composted almost since we got married in 1982, it's just a reflex action for both of us now.

    Ann, I'm having the same experience with cash. There are actually moths growing in my wallet. And my gas tank, too. Since the middle of February, when I filled my tank, I've put a whopping total of five more gallons of gas in my car. And it's still full since then. I'm about to head out for the senior shopping time, and am hoping my car starts. It's been over a week since I drove it.

    Hank, the virus doesn't live forever, even on plastic bags. After they've "aged" a few days you can use them again.

    We have a system of "mail jail". I take the mail out of the box using a big plastic bag, then close the mailbox with a plastic-covered hand. When I come in, I leave the mail in a basket for a couple days, then move it to another kind of mail purgatory for a day before opening it.

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    1. Sweet potato pie! Or add a few boiled potatoes and a quart of chicken broth, zhuzh it in the food processor, top it with sour cream and toasted almond slivers and scallions... SOUP!

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    2. I do the same with plastic bags and mail that comes i that doesn't need to be opened... drop it in a corner and wait for any germs who rode in on it to expire. Maybe I should expiration-date my mail?

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    3. I like the idea of sweet potatoes in bread, but I only have 2 eggs and I've saved those for raspberry almond tea cake:)

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    4. Roasted sweet potato with other veggies, beans and a starch (quinoa, rice) to make a hearty main dish for lunch. No baking!

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    5. That soup sounds delicious, Hallie. Hmm. I have all that stuff.

      Raspberry almond tea cake!? Shoot, I'd save the eggs for that, too. Yum.

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  6. Yes, we let the mail rest too, and packages stay in the closed off entryway for three days. Just let the plastic bags rest? Oh, that is great! That makes me so happy. Thank you!

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    1. Then all you have to do is wash your hands after you drop it to 'cure.'

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    2. Well, that was easy! You're welcome.

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  7. My husband has always been a "leftovers" guy, so we've not changed in that regard. Funny how he doesn't eat it, though. I ate the same thing for three days in a row for lunch, and finally said, "That's it. I can't. A dinner and three lunches - give me peanut butter and jelly, please."

    We have plenty of food (except I STILL can't find yeast for making bread although I did score three 5lb bags of whole wheat flour). It's not really a change, but we've expanded our giving to local food banks because, like the rest of us, we aren't spending money on other things. Although with The Hubby going back to work, we'll be spending on gas again (he has an hour commute each way, every day) so who knows.

    And we eat out at least once a week and I get my cider. We're supporting local business. Yeah, that's it.

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    1. Yeast is hard to come by... my friend Ron, a serious baker, just dropped off about 1/2 cup of yeast. He'd ordered a pound of it from Amazon and, much as he bakes, isn't going to go through it. My good luck!!

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    2. I have a pound of yeast from Amazon too, hope it works. I'm still using what I bought before the yeast crisis. What is it about baking bread that satisfies something in us?

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    3. Yeast keeps well in a jar in the fridge. My latest sourdough is rising now!

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    4. Edith, that's where I keep mine. I guess I'm going to have to head over to Amazon!

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  8. I didn't think I've been spending more or less than before but then I remembered, yes, I am buying books! We all deserve to treat ourselves and that is definitely a treat of mine.

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    1. And I'm making my way through my TBR pile...

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  9. Hallie, I love your jars ( rice, oatmeal), they are so cute.
    Living on a low budget, I've always been frugal and attentive not to waste, so nothing new here. But even if the grocery is more expensive, I spend less because there's nowhere to go. However, I spend more on books because the public library is closed.

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  10. We're on our last tube of toothpaste and I'll pay more to use the drugstore during senior hours than risk the local superstore. I'm frugal with meat and we're eating more vegetarian dishes and pasta.

    Yesterday one of the kids asked how to order potting soil for home delivery. I suggested a garden center with curbside pickup.

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  11. It's just me and the zoo here, so I don't have any pushback on leftovers or vegetables, but I do find myself making choices about the food I cook. Yesterday, for example, I was really in the mood for pound cake (reading Jenn's Pumpkin Spice Peril). I got out the butter and the eggs, and then I looked at them and thought, "What am I doing? It took me three grocery orders to score that butter!" Plus I'd have to use flour and sugar, both of which are in short supply, so it all went back in the fridge and I vowed to see if the in-store bakery where I get groceries might have cupcakes or muffins next time around.

    When we first went into lockdown I was very bad about ordering treats for myself, but I think that has run its course. I'm really enjoying the new fountain pen when I write in the new journal, but I won't "need" another of either for a good long time. I'm saving a ton of money on gas and restaurants, so it will all work out. I'm still ordering books, and the most recent order was from an indy store that survived a tornado last fall, only to face this. We'll see how that goes.

    The biggest change for me is the switch to curb-side grocery pickup, which I kind of like. When I'm working full time again I can see how it would be a huge time-saver to swing by the store on my way home and pick up my groceries in ten minutes, vs. wandering the aisles for an hour. Also, I've converted all my favorite sandwiches into tortilla wraps because I can always get tortillas, but bread is still hard to come by.

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  12. The pandemic hasn't really changed much about the way we use/re-use things here. It has changed the willingness of the guys to eat leftovers, so less waste there. The grocery bill has increased because no eating out for two very social guys. But other expenses are down because we aren't in the stores. Hardware store visit for one item: doorknob. What would I come home with? Lots of things--because I love hardware stores. And yes to needing another pair of walking shoes--Walking has been the one thing not restricted, thank heavens!

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  13. Well, goodness some very fine tips. We have done some food challenges (no chocolate until Summer Solstice) rationing jelly beans. I am now an official bean counter. My car is 19 years old, it needs to run at least once a week, or that was my excuse. In truth it was a mental health drive.
    Lucy what about sweet potato gnocchi? Seriously find a recipe that does not call for eggs (google sweet potato + what you have on hand + recipe.. Good luck. Now taking off my librarian hat.

    The gov has opened FL so y'all can come on down. Just wear masks. and think about the humidity. Lucy you will be missed.. be sure to wave as you fly over Tampa.

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  14. I'm in the scrimping and splurging camp -- I no longer check the price on food and household stuff; if it's on the shelf and I"m going to need it, I buy it, regardless of the cost. I'm happy to pay the delivery fee to avoid stepping foot into the shop. And, like others have said, I'm more conscious of making food last -- smaller portions, less tossing into the compost bin and more creative use for slightly past-its-prime veg. I am buying e-books for my Kindle and also "proper" books from our local independent that offers curb side pickup. I have bought clothes online, but that's my usual mode of clothes shopping. And, also like others, I seem to have more money in the bank; though my monthly credit card bill is now enormous relatively speaking due to all the online buying and delivery services being use. C'est la vie during lockdown, eh?

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  15. We always used food up until it was not usable. There are frozen bananas in the freezer and my grandkids all love banana bread, so that works well. I always froze half of the dinner and we have been using those up to make room in my rather small freezer for meat and chicken we buy when we go to the kosher market. The dog does benefit from the tail end of pasta and meat dishes but really, those are tiny scraps. I do not honor "Use By" dates. They are suggestions. If dairy products smell good and do not have anything growing, then it is not necessary to toss it. Only if it has sat there a month past the date would I toss dairy without it looking or smelling bad. Canned food should last a century, sorry USDA or whoever thought that throwing away canned goods was something necessary.

    I went to the store today and like Edith last week, bought KA Flour, only 2 kinds and tp, we are now good on tp for a month or more. But, there are no important shortages here, in suburbia and Irwin and I each go shopping from once or twice a week.

    Basically, we are good and the biggest problem is cleaning every single item that I bring home from the store. That takes longer than shopping.

    Stay safe and well, everyone.

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    1. When we get a grocery delivery I throw everything that’s not perishable in the trunk of our car ... four days later I bring it all in and don’t need to decontaminate

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    2. We spray down everything on the front porch before we bring it in the house. It is a pain!

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  16. Since the lockdown, my cupboard and refrigerator has never been this full since I've lived in this apartment 25+ years. My wallet still contains the money I had when I stopped working in March. I've been cooking more, breakfast, lunch and dinner and veggies are always on the dinner plate (never before), thus spending more on food. I am also spending more on items I didn't know I needed until we were to told to shelter in place, like monitor and headset to work at home, face masks and buffs. I am spending less on take-out food, restaurants, and clothes.

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    1. My freezer has never been so full, either... and it now requires organizing.

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  17. I don't feel like my habits have changed that much. I'm actually eating out a bit more to help local restaurants. But my credit card bill is much lower. Part of that was the refund for one of my cancelled mud runs. :( But still, it was shockingly low.

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    1. You do mud runs? Did we know that?? As organizer or participant?

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    2. As a participant (you don't want me organizing anything). I've been doing them for 10 years. Not sure if I've talked about it here or not, but I thought I had.

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  18. By the way, BRAVO to you, Rhys, for buying the keyboard. Music is a great way to soothe the soul and sharpen the mind in crazy times like these.

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  19. My habits haven't changed all that much.


    My refrigerator isn't fully stocked because I never buy that way. I just buy what I need when I go to the store. I am usually going a couple of days a week. I get whatever I know I'll need because I'm low and then I add in whatever I might get the ambition to cook during the week for dinner when I'm not ordering takeout. Lately though, I've just been getting sandwich meat and having a sandwich and soup if I'm not ordering a sub or chicken tenders. I am the epitome of lazy when it comes to cooking.

    I have been able to buy some books and CDs online as of late, thanks mostly to some selling and buying on eBay. I've supported some local shops as well when the credit card balances were down including Titcomb's Bookshop in East Sandwich, MA.

    I'm not driving much. There's a bit of humor to go with that because I got a notice from the auto dealer saying it was time for my 16,000 mile oil change. By their estimates anyway. I looked at my odometer when I got that email and saw that I was at 13,500 miles. So, that's a ways off I'd say.

    The one habit I've picked up thanks to having that "bonus" cash from the government each week is that I've been socking it away for bills. I haven't been so on target for getting everything paid in forever. I'm actually going to hate going back to work because my regular pay will be 25% less than what I'm getting sitting on my fat butt at home.

    I will say the new thing I've discovered is that the stay at home order has ruined my ability to suspend disbelief with TV commercials. There was an ad for the Roomba cleaner that shows a girl destroying a bunch of food to toss on the floor and have the machine clean it up. I saw that and wanted to scream, "Young lady, how dare you waste that food! Where are your parents?!?"...which led me to realize I've become my parents.

    And don't get me started on that Keebler elves commercial talking about how they get their cookies perfectly fudgy by throwing them into vats of fudge and then catching them in their hands...WITH NO GLOVES ON!!!



    As of this morning, I found out that I'll be spending way less on concerts for sure as I now have no shows that haven't been cancelled or postponed until September 5th (and I expect that show to get postponed too).

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    1. Cracked me up: "Young lady, how dare you waste that food! Where are your parents?!?"...which led me to realize I've become my parents." And the gloveless maskless Keebler elves. Shocking!

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  20. Great topic today! I have been taking exercise classes online with bar method via Zoom.

    My freezer is full of frozen fruits and veggies. Baking banana bread from overripe bananas. No interest in buying new clothes since I have too many clothes! Sleeping more.

    Reading more ARC from NetGalley when the letters are NOT too tiny to read. LOL. Stretching out the portions by eating smaller potions so I do not run out of food as quickly.

    Reading along with the #nancydrewbookcrew and reading the Mystery of the Lilac Inn. Reading along with another online book club - the Classics - reading Lorna Doone.

    Ordered more hand sanitizers.

    Diana

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    1. Reminded me - JK Rowling's Wizarding World is posting read aloud chapters of the first Harry Potter book - Daniel Radcliffe read chapter 1. Noma Dumezweni (she played Hermoine on London stage) read chapter 2. A different celebrity for each chapter. Can't wait to see who's up next. The link should you be a fan as am I: https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters/reading-the-boy-who-lived

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    2. Hallie, thanks for the link!

      Diana

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  21. We've been getting curbside or delivered dinner once a week to support our local restaurants--and to give me a break!

    This week I think I'm going to gird my loins (put on mask and gloves) and attempt senior hour at Trader Joe's. I really, really miss my Trader Joe's and I'm finding the online shopping stressful and exhausting. Although now that we seem to be able to get delivery from Costco I'm all for that, but that's not the same as our normal weekly grocery shopping. It's so hard to decide what is a reasonable risk...

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    1. "Reasonable risk" - that is the question. My judgment clashes with my daughters' and husband's. Senior hour at our local stop n shop is very quiet, especially first thing.

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  22. Since our household is down by two temporarily it has been less chaotic. We've probably done more cooking. I hate cooking a meal and then either no one is here to eat it or have other plans. I make lists of what we're out of and my husband does all the running around. Suits me fine! Things are opening up here but I'm staying away for the most part. We might get take out or a walking drink but we're not sitting down anywhere to eat. I think our dear governor has really jumped the gun. I'm still staying in place, pretty much, even if he isn't. And don't get me started on the lieutenant governor. . .
    I got a letter today from our son in basic training. He graduates on the 29th and should head home since he's in the reserves. He actually remembered Mother's Day, wished me a happy one, and offered to toss a grenade for me. Private joke!

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    1. It will be interesting to see what happens in states that have opened up early. Here in Massachusetts we're still pretty much shut down.

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  23. Hank, I saw a tip online to plant the scallion ends growing in water outside when enough roots form. So I planted my 2 scallion ends next to my chives and will see how they fare. And I am also trying to use basil cuttings from a single plant to make more than one basil plant since I don't know when the garden centres will have potted herbs for sale.

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    1. I have bounteous thyme, sage, mint, oregano, and chives (still the same plant Edith gave me a few years ago - Thx, Edith!) - I may risk the market looking for basil - every year I've been able to get a 10" pot packed with basil - that I keep cutting from until the fall.

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  24. Oh, yeah, the carrot top sprouts! You do have to plant them in deep, loose soil if you want an actual carrot to grow. And even then, I've not seen that happen, so if you do it let us know how it goes.

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    1. Or are you supposed to be able to eat the tops? I do not believe a ew carrot will grow. Not without a magic spell.

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    2. Carrot tops aren't worth much. I have had something that was billed as "carrot top soup", but it's not something I'd order again.

      Most of those ideas are pretty useless, although I did plant the bottom of a cabbage in the garden, and it is growing.

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  25. I bought my first tank of gas this past Saturday in two months. Even a quarter of a tank has to be replenished at some point if you're doing any driving at all. I used my plastic disposable gloves when I got the gas, and I use them (oh, plus the face mask, of course) whenever I go into the grocery or drug store. Speaking of the grocery store, that's a huge change for us. My husband now does the grocery shopping (maybe I go once every 2 or 3 weeks), and I never thought I'd see that day come, not because he wouldn't do it, but because I'm such a control freak over it. I do print out a list for him and stand by my phone for his calls when he has a question at the store, but we spend less when he goes with a list than if I go without one. And, I do try to use what we get before it goes bad, which requires more meal planning than I ever did before. I try to plan meals that will yield leftovers for a couple of days, so I've been cooking the "big" dishes more, and I was in a real baking frenzy for a bit. I've calmed that down some now. Before all this hit, I would think about baking a strawberry cake and decide it was too much trouble, but I've fixed two strawberry cakes since the stay-at-home situation began and not batted an eye. We're not getting takeout much, and I feel rather bad that I'm not supporting one of my favorite restaurants better, but that may start changing a bit, as I'm starting to get weary of the constant meal planning. However, with a full freezer, I expect to be doing cooking on a regular basis.

    My book buying had slowed way down for about a month and a half, but I had so many books already on hand and in the queue. I'm opening the book purchases back up some now, having just recently received Private Investigations (with Rhys' and Hallie's pieces), Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier, and The Split by Sharon Bolton. I have Martin Edwards' new book, Mortmain Hall, on order from the UK. My reading has been rather sporadic, and I'm feeling that it might be getting more on track now.

    Not to whine or complain, because I am so glad we are here for her, my mother-in-law's declining health has dictated how much of our time has been spent over the last two months. She's back in the hospital again, for the second time in a few weeks, and she's now been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She's 91, is tiny (weighs around 89 pounds), is weak from the breathing problems, which have now gone into heart problems, but she is a mighty little woman. One of the cooking and baking motivations I've had is how much she has seemed to enjoy the food I've made. I'm not sure how much that will remain a pleasure when she gets home from the hospital this time. My husband has spent half of the week staying with her 24/7, actually he's there every day, but has been spending the night 3 or 4 nights. His sister comes in from Louisville to stay 2 or 3 nights, and our daughter has, for the past three weeks, spent a night each week. We're getting into new territory now, and there's no way of knowing how long her heart can hold out. But, she has always been adamant about having a DNR order and not prolonging her life when the quality is gone, so that's in place due to her wonderful thinking ahead and being a practical person. which relieves her children of such a decision. We're currently waiting to hear from the hospital if she will be released anytime soon. They don't seem to be in a hurry about that. The worst part is not being able to be there with her, as there are no visitors allowed in the hospitals now, but she's rather disoriented and the nurses say she isn't asking for anyone. OK, that's the report now, and I will endeavor not to go on about this. It's just what our lives revolve around now.

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    1. Kathy, your mother-in-law sounds like a force of nature. It's wonderful that sheehas so much family nearby. Tough times. No wonder you made two strawberry cakes.

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  26. And, speaking of buying, Rhys, can you give me some more information about your keyboard. Having given my daughter my piano for her girls to take lessons, I find I miss having one these days. I've thought about a keyboard, and I'm most interested in what you got and if you are happy with it.

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  27. My food management (freezer/fridge/pantry) game is pretty strong, but takes a lot of attention. I bake, but not too much to tempt me to eat all of it. My aerogarden (hydroponic) gives me fresh lettuce and herbs, and I've just added a tomato plant to contribute to the crop. Hoping my veggie garden comes in well as a few plants have already started.

    Despite all that, boy, is my grocery bill seemingly astronomical! In addition to "this seems to cost more when ordering online", my food shopping includes adding items for my parents, who move to MA next week but will be staying indefinitely in a hotel, a plan that seemed much more convenient in the Before Times. It also includes freezing things like milk, eggs, and cheese, so we always have a safety net of those popular items.

    The other side of our food management is that I cook big meals that can last a few days; we're lucky that we don't mind eating leftovers of the same meal for a few meals in a row. We do order dinner (usually Chinese) every other week, with a double order to give us a few meals and a few days' break of my cooking.

    One thing is for sure. I have never scrubbed baking sheets more and more often than I have since this all began.

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    1. Aerogardening? I need to go look that up.

      I do find myself splurging... fresh pomegranate juice is my current vice.It makes a lovely nonalcholic 'cocktail'with some sparkling water and a squeeze of lime. Feels like a hit of red wine.

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    2. Ooh.. another good point I forgot: I've embraced Drizly for some special deliveries... tequila for margaritas, bourbon for the husband, and some aperol for spritzes!

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  28. My pepper, sprouted from the inside of a bell pepper, just sprouted. This brought me great joy.

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  29. Like Grace, I'm doing a mix of scrimping/splurging.
    Because we're not going anywhere other than curbside pick-up for our grocery order, we're certainly saving gas money and the money we would be spending on going out to eat (man, I really miss going out to eat).
    No hair appointments - there's a savings.
    No mani/pedi appointments - savings.
    Because we're not going to be doing any traveling this year - not just flying, no beach trips, but not even our usual weekend trips to Asheville to see the wonderful Biltmore Gardens - I'm giving in to every urge for a new book that crosses my computer screen.
    "Want to read the sequel or the prequel to that novel at 2 a.m., sure, send it to my Kindle!"
    Or.
    "Hmm - I've never heard of this author, but that book sounds terrific! Send it to my Kindle!"
    And yes, OH yes, Not to worry - I'm continuing to do my share for indie bookstores - always.
    I've had a couple of book-giveaways through my author webpage and asking the winner(s) to choose which indie bookstore they want to support and having my book sent to them by that particular bookstore.
    And, our freezer has never been more full. I'm usually a sale shopper at the grocery, but these days, if the grocery store has a pound of ground beef, or some chicken breasts or a pork tenderloin or whatever, I'm grabbing it.
    I admit to loving clothes, loving to shop for clothes. But these days I'm living in yoga pants and Teeshirts. I did order a fun, funky little top at Zulily because I liked it and it looked comfy. It was a good choice.
    But no, I am not planning on dying any clothes with root vegetables or . . . whatever.
    And,honestly? I'm in NO hurry to change things back to what was our "normal."
    No hurry.
    Doing what it takes to stay healthy, help keep others healthy - especially the health care workers and those helping them in the hospitals; housekeepers, food workers, etc. - Donald and I agree that we can stay home for as long as it takes.



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    1. What a treat to find you here, our very own Oh Kaye! I have to agree with you: we can stay home as long as it takes, too.

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  30. You are sweet! thank you.
    Truthfully, I'm here "almost" every day even if I don't leave a comment.
    Keeping an eye on all of you <3

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    1. I was wondering why the back of my neck was prickling...

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  31. Okay, I'm going to completely horrify some of you, but I have been re-using my coffee filters and coffee through the drip machine - just adding an additional teaspoon of fresh grounds before sending new water through. Basically, it tastes like the seventies.

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    1. This makes complete sense to me... We throw away too many "single-use" things, imhop.

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  32. Re: reasonable risk: I go to the grocery store about 2 times a month, setting my alarm to get me up by 5:30 a.m. I get there when the store opens at 6 a.m., not their senior hour, but there are never more than 3-4 other customers in the store at that time. Because I know the store so well, I gave myself this task--I know where everything is and can do a two-week stock-up and still be home within an hour. Hand sanitizer in the car, mask on, and outer clothing shed by the w/d when I get home, shoes left in the garage. So far, it seems to be okay.

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    1. I like your system. I had to go to the store once (craving tangerines, ridiculous I know but there you have it) early early like that and it was fine. I was like the only person in the store. Took 5 minutes, in and self-check out.

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  33. Is this the isolation of burning appliances? I set the microwave on fire last month. How? I discovered a frozen power bowl in the back of the freezer. It was only one month past its use by date. Thankfully I was standing next to the microwave when it burst into flames one minute into its four minute cooking time.

    I tend toward frugal, although not to the degree of my mother. She had used paper towels hanging from every cupboard door and on chair backs. I have found that I'm cooking smaller quantities which results in fewer leftovers and I won't cook again until the remains of the days are eaten. We are in the process of moving and although we will miss the Maine growing season this year. My aspirational Johnny Seeds order is in the making for 2021!

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    1. Your mother reused paper towels? Now that is a bridge too far.
      Love that expression, "the remains of the day." But I've never thought about it in this context.

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  34. When I was a kid, I was the one using the last of the soap and toothpaste, and not my Depression Era parents. However, since I live alone, I have to be careful what I buy or make. I like leftovers but pulled back on the baking since I'm still eating cookies. About ready to bake again. So far I had takeout twice and want to do more to support restaurants. Am totally ordering more books. I do miss getting some from the library, though.

    Our garden center finally opened, and I've been twice and am going again. Most of the coleus got frosted so I have to buy more plus vinca and other flowers. Sure hope we get consistent warm weather soon. Stay safe and well.

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    1. It didn't feel like spring to me until I got a bowl of pansies for my patio. They're fortunately frost resistant. LOVE coleus. And they're super easy to propagate.

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  35. We're usually thrifty, and our shopping habits haven't changed much. We go once a week during senior hours, and about every third week add Costco when needed. We're not big on baking, but we do make a lot of soups and stews, as well as crockpot chicken and other stuff. We scored a very nice four-pack of top notch pot roasts recently, one was made, three in the freezer. Here, toilet paper, paper towels and eggs are no problem, but flour and yeast are still scarce. We made enough hand sanitizer to last a long time, so that's okay too.

    Lot's of good tips here, thanks to all.

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  36. During WW2, my mother's friend stood in a line for three hours. When she got to the front, she discovered they were selling gin. No one in her family drank.

    My major contribution tonight? Two words: MILK FREEZES

    Other than that, why is chutney so hard to find?
    Will anyone ever look at a chicken breast in quite the same way? Even if it's in curry...with chutney on the side.

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    1. SO agree! As for the milk--you have to leave room, right?

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  37. I'm revisiting old family recipes that most often need a big bucket to cook in. I've tried cutting down the "recipes," but that never works. Tonight I made my great-grandmother's Russia Poland chicken soup and ate what I wanted. I missed the guys' help with that. I put the rest in containers. It doesn't freeze well, so I'll be eating it for a few days and possibly sharing it with a neighbor, although people are being so cautious now, she might not want to. Oh... Fitbit puppy says he'll eat it for me. Good boy, Fitbit.

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