daily links::a food waste cookbook!, news on teen hunger, and more


There’s a cookbook called Amazing Waste with recipes entirely devoted to cooking with scraps,leftovers,etc. I haven’t had a chance to look through the entire thing yet but this looks like the kind of cookbook I would write. Am writing. These kinds of recipes are great for food pantry users (at least my food pantry) where you might end up with produce that is not the prettiest or freshest.

The entire cookbook is available for free RIGHT HERE.

Thanks to my local food waste reduction -anti hunger group Friendship Donations Network for passing along that info.

·:   Five Questions with JoAnne Berkenkamp, Food Waste Expert and Advocate  – there’s a lot of food waste going on but it’s getting better thanks to mainstream recognition and initiatives to reduce waste

:· some new research reveals some sad information about teenagers living in homes with food insecurity  . Even if teenagers do have access to programs that give them food,they’re too worried about what their peers will think to use them openly but also they are underserved by programs like The Backpack Program, which focuses on elementary aged kids. This is something touched on before here when one of our readers was trying to develop a program for older kids.

As a result, in households where hunger was most acute, teens reported engaging in all kinds of risky behavior to obtain food, including: shoplifting food directly, selling drugs for cash and/or engaging in “transactional dating,” i.e., engaging in sexual relationships with older adults in exchange for food and money. In a few communities, some teens even viewed going to jail as a viable option to ensure regular meals. The report also revealed the degree to which hungry teens look out for each other and for their younger siblings, often forgoing meals or sharing their food with those also in need.

Here’s a summary of the full report: Impossible Choices

My teenager’s high school made school lunch available for free to ALL students, regardless of income. If high schools did that widely, this would eliminate so much of these issues. Her school also has Free Food Friday where food donations picked up from a local rescue agency is available in the school lobby for anyone to take home. My daughter very rarely gets anything because it’s completely gone by the time she has a chance to check it out. Even when she is there on time, it’s difficult to get anything. No one is shy about taking food home. Now I have to wonder why these students have no reluctance to take free food. The school is a small charter school that focuses on sustainability and social justice (nope, don’t go off on me about how awful charter schools are) . Is it just that the culture of the school is centered on taking care or others and being stewards of the earth? A lot for me to think about there. I asked my daughter what she thinks and she says it’s because the school works hard to be a safe space for everyone and “no one judges people for things like that”.

Meanwhile in my community, the school district just expanded their Fresh Snack Program to include another school so that it now serves 1,200 elementary students. The Youth Farm Project (which one of my older kids worked at and let em tell you…that’s an AMAZING program) and other local farms provide a weekly snack to be served with the intention of expanding food horizons and food accessibility. It’s awesome.

My 6 year old was very critical of the yellow watermelon mentioned in the article linked above. He spent his summer growing his own watermelon, so he’s an expert now.

He’s a super proud watermelon farmer.  I think we actually have a couple left to harvest. I plan on making this watermelon pie. YESSSSSSSSS.

This week at the food pantry

We missed going to the food pantry in March entirely. The one here is only twice a month and I think we were sick the one day and something else was happening on the other. Even though we restocked quite a bit of staples and did some good grocery shopping with Taxmas money, we still really needed to go yesterday.

This week there was quite a lot of produce that had been donated that needed to go (disadvantage of a bi monthy pantry…anything fresh has to be gone that day or it’s going to waste) so volunteers kept trying to get me to take more. Lots of  white and sweet potatoes,carrots,apples. A few oranges. I had just bought a 50 lb bag of potatoes a couple of weeks ago and 5 lbs of carrots (reminder: my weird food quirk is that the only veg I HATE is carrots). I see many potato dishes in my future.


They also had several large shipping boxes of frozen microwave pancakes and frozen cookie dough. They gave us a whole box of the pancakes because there was no room in their freezers. Glad we have the upright freezer. We also took the cookie dough…hearts for Valentine’s Day. Exp March 22, which I’m sure is still ok but we’ll see. I will live if we have to toss the cookie dough but it would be a nice treat for the kiddos.

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We also got frozen fish & ground beef, some canned beans and fruit, spaghetti sauce,rice,pasta,cornmeal,juice, 3 blocks of mozzarella, and Ghiradelli chocolate -dark chocolate and sea salt with caramel. Oh,and a taco meal kit. Some of the canned food was expired in 2014. They might be iffy but some food still is fine after that date. I’ll see what happens when I open it.

I think that’s it. The day after we go to the food pantry I usually start putting together the week’s meal plan around what we got. Looks like fish tacos, spaghetti & meatballs, something rice and beans oriented for sure. Not immediately clear on the rest.


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No Food Wasted:  Half a cabbage+kidney beans+leftover tomato soup = ….

This was what I worked with for dinner last night:

  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • A cup or so of kidney beans . I got a huge can of kidney beans in the dented can bin for cheap. Half went into a pasta salad the night before
  • Leftover canned tomato soup we had at lunch . About 1/2 cup 
  • A very sad looking tomato in the fridge

I also used from the pantry:

  • 1 onion
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Curry powder 

One of my family’s favorites is fried cabbage. This is just a twist in that. First – I sautéed garlic and onion in cooking oil. I added a little bit more oil and tossed in coursely chopped cabbage. I like to let it cook until the onions are  caramelized and cabbage tender and slightly browned.

cabbage & onions

Then I added the beans , chopped tomato, & tomato soup and  seasoned with salt & curry . Let cook until everything is heated through and that was that.  

 You can use any seasoning you have on hand and it would be just as awesome. I just happened to be in the mood for curry that evening.

I served it with rice but my daughter ate it without happily . I think she’s sick of rice. 

This post has gone bananas

[content notes: food waste, food rescue, recipes, too many banana songs and references to gorillas]

About a week ago we acquired 80 lbs of bananas. An entire shipment of banana arrived at the store “too ripe”. Optimally, stores want the naners more on the green side. This particular grocery store is one that does the responsible thing and works with food donation organizations that use food “waste” to feed people but this time… toooooooooooooo many bananas.

[Digression: These happens everywhere in America,every day, with a lot more than bananas. When people actually argue against feeding poor people and policing their food choices, I’m like…guys… there is more than enough food for everyone,ok? Good food. Food people can eat. This feeding of people does not have to be this complicated]

So, 80 lbs came into our house on Friday. On Saturday, 40 more lbs joined them.

And now I’m starting to see Grodd’s point of view a little clearer.

I am not really at the banana hating point but it may be awhile until I have a craving for a banana-anything. Also, hard to hate free food.

So, here’s what I did with 120 lbs of bananas:

  • Gave them to friends and people I don’t even really know
  • Sent some with my daughter to take back to college after break
  • Made banana pancakes (had that Jack Johnson song stuck in my head the rest of the day)
  • Made banana chips  (I definitely did not use fresh squeezed lemon juice like the recipe calls for)
  • Made banana muffins & bread while ,totally unplanned, my 5 yr old watched a Richard Scarry’s Busytown dvd with many episodes centered around Bananas Gorilla
  • Froze equivalent to a small boatload of bananas while singing “The Banana Boat Song”. One entire shelf in our upright freezer ($30 at a yard sale many years ago. One of my best buys ever) is just bananas in freezer bags. These will come in handy for quite some time for baking and smoothies. I also read yesterday that bananas are on the brink of extinction, so maybe I should hang on to some for the Bananapocalypse. They could be bartering gold!
  • Kept some out to ripen to make MORE bread & muffins. When my one daughter was little, I used to make her these banana-carrot muffins all the time. I think we’ll venture into those and maybe some banana-peanut butter muffins, even though my boys cant take them to school for snack (Peanut Free classrooms)
  • Stashed a bunch in the pantry to get truly black for Rotten Banana Pie. Should be able to make that for the holllerdays.



My smallest guy practiced writing skills while labelling the freezer bags when he wasn’t peeling  piles of bananas


Obviously we had a lot of banana peels to contend with afterward. When we moved in here, I decided my easiest way to set up garden space would be to build a lasagna garden using our empty moving boxes as the base. We don’t have snow on the ground yet so I’m still able to add layers. Instead of composting all the peels in our regular compost, I just added them to the garden to bake.

Special thank to PAF reader Rose who saw me mention on Facebook that I don’t have a blender and offered to send me her old one. Yay, we can have Banana Ice Cream now,too!



No Food Wasted: Leftover Pasta, sausage, and Mac -n-cheese= pierogie casserole 

We had pasta with sauce one evening . I serve pasta and sauces separately , letting each person add what they want to their pasta. I have one kid who can’t eat tomatoes (and other acidic foods) and another who just like butter and cheese. This just works better for us. So, anyway- from that dinner, I had leftover cooked pasta but no leftover sauce.

The following day for lunch, my boys ate boxed mac and cheese (thank you, Backpack Program). There was only about a cup left.

The next day, I combined the pasta & Mac -n-Cheese in a rectangular baking dish. I added a splash of milk & a handful of shredded cheese. I found one lonely sausage in the fridge that I sliced up and added (my vegetarian daughters are at college).

My daughter made a pot of mashed potatoes . We spooned that on top of the pasta mess. Sprinkled with more cheese. Baked until the cheese melted and pasta was heated through. Presto, Pierogie Casserole. 

It was better than it looks here. 


Let this pic serve as your weekly reminder that you aren’t here for food photography. 

No Food Wasted: Leftover Spinach Salad= Greek-ish Omelette

The phone rang and I have ADHD, so my omelette scorched , then plain just fell apart but you’re not here for pretty food photography, right?

This is the reason I prefer to make salad with spinach than lettuce (besides that spinach has more nutritional value) .I can recycle spinach salad far easier into other foods than I can lettuce. You can throw it in wraps, pasta dishes,bake it on fish or meat… lots of possibilities.

One negative: spinach tends to be more expensive BUT I find that I can stretch a package of spinach throughout several meals and I just don’t get that with lettuce.

Both are really easy to grow if you can do that, so there’s that way of handling the whole cost issue. Still, even growing my own I would end up buying some occasionally because my small garden was not a farm that could keep up with my ridiculous family who likes to eat lots of spinach.

If I do have a salad made with lettuce, I will use up the leftover on a sandwich. But meh…

Lunchtime Links: Recipes for Novice Canners and FREE Non-GMO SEEDS!

Today’s round-up of food things.

Home canning basics from Attainable Sustainable.

Recipes for the Novice Canner  -the simplest ones to start with, with tips for beginners | via Attainable Sustainable

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 7 Common Kitchen Disasters and How To Avoid Them – Because avoiding food mistakes means less food waste which means saving money. I appreciate the blender tip. Mine has a missing top. I just use a lid from a storage bowl that’s slightly larger than the top of my blender and hold it there.

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Groundswell is giving away free non-GMO seeds. Here’s what you have to do to get some:


How it Works

  1. Sign up to receive seeds and share the names of at least two friends or family members interested in receiving seeds as well.
  2. Groundswell sends you a packet of open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds from Sow True Seed, a locally-owned company based in Asheville, NC.
  3. By planting these seeds, you are supporting healthy seeds that can be saved and used to reproduce food year after year.
  4. After you have signed up to receive seeds, stay tuned! Below are different ways to connect to receive updates on the campaign from now through the end of April.

– See more at: http://www.groundswellinternational.org/seeds/#sthash.FCvmIxye.dpuf


Ann from Bohan Seeds  has very generously offered FREE veggie seeds to readers here. She says, “If you would be interested ,please check my site out but instead of ordering through the site just send email from site with what you want and I will do what I can to comply. Free of course. Please start your email with Poor As Folk so I will know.

Thank you so much, Ann!