GUEST POST FROM DANA GUNDERS OF THE NRDC
The exciting news is that I’m going to Hawaii on Friday. Among the rest of the pre-vacation stress — leaving work projects in a good place, finding a bathing suit, and trying to whip myself into bathing suit shape — I have been trying to perfectly plan our refrigerator contents so that they are at zero (excluding condiments) at the exact moment we leave for the airport.
It is so much harder than you might expect! First of all, this process has to start at least a week before departure, which is hopefully the last time you do a real shop. I did all the right things — planned meals, made sure I wasn’t doubling up on anything I already had at home, and then got home and cooked a few pots of food for the week. So at T-7, I felt like I was in pretty good shape to leave for my trip.
Send Leftover Party Platters Home With Guests
The first snafu came over the weekend, however, when I threw an engagement party for a good friend. Though we tried to keep the excessive platters to a minimum, and I was adamant about sending everyone away with extra food, I still wound up taking home some of the surplus. Cheese, no less, which is not all that helpful to the last minute get-in-shape effort, mind you! Fortunately, my boyfriend is quite the cheese lover, so I felt he could take that one for the team. Then, in order to thank us for the party, the happy couple gave us a bunch of fresh herbs and sauces that they had cooked up. Oy.
Harvest Your Garden Before You Go
The next hurdle came when I went to water my garden. When did all these tomatoes get ripe? I swear just three days prior there were no cucumbers or zucchini, and I guarantee all the melons were green. And yet there I stood forced to harvest this bounty that I worked so hard to grow. The week’s meal plan had been thwarted again.
So now, here I am, T-3. I have resisted the temptation to order take out the last few exhausting days. I have concocted some strange meals with new and unusual mixes of ingredients. And yet, more tomatoes are getting ripe on the vine and the pots-o-goodness that I prepared at the beginning of the week are still waiting to be eaten.
Every Meal Is an Opportunity to Empty Your Refrigerator
Fear not, though, as I have a plan. Lunch will be brought by all members of the household (unfortunately for this mission, there are only two of us). Priority will be given to non-freezable items. Strange foods will be eaten for breakfast, as cereal can last until we return. One final meal that combines the most ridiculous of items will be eaten. And thankfully, there is always the freezer, a good friend to anyone facing the pre-vacation food planning predicament — especially since when I return, I’ll be glad to say aloha to a frozen meal waiting for me since my refrigerator will be perfectly, intentionally empty.
How Do You Empty Your Refrigerator Before Your Vacation?
Do you mindfully plan out your meals before going away to empty your refrigerator? What other solutions do you find are helpful in preventing food waste before a big trip?
You might also like Dana Gunders’s Report, Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.
LINK HERE for a free PDF copy of the report.