Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Can I Use This?

This my new question:

How can I use this?

For instance, go look in your pantry right now...I'll wait...

How much of that has been in there over six months? A year? More than that?

With food, I definitely noticed some "hoarding" tendencies. Not like, rotting food and stuff from 1984, but I'd buy things for "one day I'll make..." and then never use it. Or maybe I bought it for a special diet I was doing at the time. Or whatever. Yet there it is on my shelf, neglected. And I paid money for that!

With the economy like it is, I just feel like I should start learning how to use (and use up) what we have. Who knows what the future will be like, and I'd like to be prepared for what might come. Part of that preparation is learning the skill (yes the SKILL) of using what you have. I say it's a skill because it definitely doesn't come easy to me, but if I practice this skill I seem to get better at it.

On the flip side, if I'm not using and don't plan to use it, I need to give it to someone who will. And yes, I said GIVE. Not throw away, and if I can help it, not even goodwill it. There are people in my life right now who have a use for it, why not give it them? Or if you think you might need it later, just let them borrow it!

So in the past month or so I've been trying to use all the food we've "collected". It started with the unexpected moth invasion I talked about a few months ago. After throwing away TONS of food, I felt sick about all the waste. If we hadn't had so much in our pantry, the moths wouldn't have had so much to get into. Now we only have the can goods and other ingredients that we will be using that week, or at least that month. I have a lot more room in my pantry too! HA!

Then I started expanding it to what I usually throw away. Here's an example. I love using the slow cooker to make really juicy and tender chicken. Generally, I throw in some water, chicken broth and let it cook all day. Then I use the chicken for whatever recipe. But what about all that broth? Typically, I'd just pour it down the drain. Last week I looked at it...what could I do with it? It had loads of flavor from the chicken and it seemed a shame to waste it.

Soup! I put the broth in the refrigerator for the next day. Then for dinner the next night, I took the broth, added a bit more water, some potatoes, corn cobs cut in half, sausage, onions, some seasoning, then noodles at the end! It was delicious!!! And I was able to "use up" and "recycle" something I'd previously wasted! Now every time I cook chicken, I know the next night I can throw together some soup. Tonight I'm making chicken noodle soup! (I don't have any more sausage or I'd make that again, it was soooo good).

And this isn't just for food, but all kinds of things. I'm a "craft starter" - i.e. I love to go buy craft projects to do, and I may start the first step, but that's it. Off into a basket or drawer it goes. For like years. These would make wonderful Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, or "just because" gift. Why do we need a reason to give? And wouldn't it be better to use what I already have, instead of adding to the waste of this world? Especially, if all I'm going to buy are the standard bath product gift basket we all seem to fall back on when we don't know what to give?

I LOVE homemade gifts, and what I love MOST about them is that they are NOT perfect. They are made with love and time. Time is more valuable than money - if you haven't figured that out I'd learn it quick. You can "print" money, "earn" money, but no one can create more time. The fact that someone spent their finite "time" to make me something makes me feel special. Of course I accept all gifts - I love me some shower gel. A girl has to keep clean.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that because it's made a big impact on me. I'll probably post more ways I've learned to "use" things as I get better at this!


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