Friday, January 08, 2010

Resolve... for real

At this time of year, as many well-meaning people do, I have made a New Year's resolution. It seems fitting that at the close of a year, one reflects on the past twelve months and wonders, "How can I do better?"

The common resolutions I hear others make are, "Lose (the holiday) weight" or a fitness variation thereof, and "Save more money," no doubt a wish made by those who feel the post-season financial crunch.

It took some thinking to figure out how I wanted to improve my life. "Lose the holiday weight": sure, I can do that using our new Nintendo Wii and eating less extravagantly than I did in December. But with a bit of work the eight pounds I gained in as many days (!) will be gone in a few weeks. So what then?

"Save more money." Well, my credit card is hurting a bit, but I'm working extra shifts for the next few months and have no gifts to buy for a while, so with luck that should be paid off by Valentine's Day. Then what? Ten months of gluttony and merciless spending so I can make the same resolutions next year and feel, for two months, that I have accomplished something? Not for me.

It's tough for many folks to make resolutions, whether New Years'-induced or not, stick. I read something once that said if you want to change a bad habit to a good one, or adopt a new habit, you need to do it every day for 21 days. By the time the 21 days are up, it should be so incorporated into your routine by then that you don't think of it as something new.

I found that to be true when I went on my weight-loss diet this past summer. It was really hard for a few weeks -I felt constantly hungry - and then, it just sort of... stopped. I still eat less junk food in general now (with the obvious "Except in December" caveat), and we cook more food at home instead of eating out 3-4 times a week.

Well, the emphasis on that sentence should be cooking... not necessarily eating.

My resolution for this year is to throw away less food.

My husband and I have a really bad habit of cooking a big pot of something (soup, spaghetti sauce, stew), eating it for a couple of days, then letting the rest rot in the fridge. It's really appalling the amount of food we throw away. I'm slightly relieved by the green bin program our city has just begun, since this means we can rest assured that our blue and black leftovers (and kitty litter!!!!! ?Zounds!!!!!) will wind up in a composter instead of a dump, but I'd like to really focus on reducing the amount of food we throw away, period.

We bought a whiteboard and a handful of colorful pens for the kitchen, and have started to write the week's dinner plans on it. It being the first week, there was naturally some leeway with it. It started with:

Sunday: Yummy delicious stew
Monday: Yummy delicious stew leftovers
Tuesday: Chili
Wednesday: Stir-fry
Thursday: Chili leftovers
Friday: Dambergerts (see the new Pink Panther movie for the reference)
Saturday: [insert hand-drawn logo for East Side Mario's here]

Today is Friday, and this is what actually happened this week:

Sunday: Yummy delicious stew
Monday: Yummy delicious stew leftovers
Tuesday: Yummy delicious stew leftovers
Wednesday: Dambergerts
Thursday: Subway (oops)
Friday: Whatever I make, since hubby is going to a hockey game and won't be home for dinner
Saturday: Something home-cooked, since my friend is coming over for dinner

As you can see, it's something of a work-in progress. On the plus side, the subs were free, since I had enough points on my Subway card to pay for them both.

On the whiteboard is also the shopping list, and today I aim to inventory both the fridge and the freezer, since knowing what food I have to cook with in the first place is half the battle. My hope is that all this cooking of massive meals may lead to the later acquisition of a small deep-freeze.

However, hubby is more opposed to this idea, arguing that the garage is cold enough in winter to keep frozen things frozen, and he shouldn't have to pay for electricity to make a box cold in a cold garage. I argued back that there is always a pool of water under the car, hence it is at least above freezing. He said that it was kept liquid by the salt coming off the car. We tested this idea with ice cubes in an open container on a shelf in the garage. After two days, they were still solid and hadn't at all melted into each other, and neither had the water on the floor really solidified. Okay, he won that one.

Now the debate is how to store food without critters getting into it, since I know from experience that little rodents can and will eat through thin plastic to get at food they like. So Rubbermaid containers are out. I don't know that a cooler would work if there are no cooling packs inside it.

I'm soliciting any advice on how to store frozen food, electricity-free, without critters getting in. Does a freezer stay cold in the winter if you don't plug it in? Let me know, and wish me luck on my resolution!