Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 15: Clear Perishables Before Travel (plus awesome brownies)

zero food waste challenge 2015I’m traveling for work again next week — leaving on Sunday evening and returning the following Sunday — so meeting my no-food-waste goal involves clearing out all the perishables in the house before then. Even though I have been trying to buy exactly what I need, I usually do have some carryover from week to week; for example, when I went shopping on Saturday I already had an onion, some apples, a lemon, yogurt, eggs, and cheddar cheese that fit the “perishables” description.

I’m not too worried about the yogurt, which lasts forever (in fact, I bought more so I can have one in the fridge at work) or the eggs, ditto (I go through phases with eggs and in an off phase, it can take me over a month to finish a dozen; I’ve never had a problem). The onion I probably ought to use soon, but I think it will be ok for a while, or else I’ll give it to my neighbor before I leave if it looks like it might be going off. However, I definitely wanted to use the apples, lemon, and cheese this week, and also not buy anything else super perishable that I wouldn’t be able to use. What I wanted to avoid was getting to Saturday and having, say, half a bundle of parsley 🙂

It was kind of an expensive week for groceries, mostly because I need a bunch of household stuff (which I buy with my grocery cash) and then I got a little hazy at Whole Foods and in addition to running around eating all the samples in an attempt to pull my blood sugar back together, I also caved and bought several things not on my list. The horror!

Electrical tape, $1.79
Duct tape, $1.99
Toilet paper, $10.39
Razors, $2.99
Frozen blueberries, $3.49
Tazo mint tea, $3.87
Unsweetened coconut flakes, $4.09
Sliced almonds, $6.99
2 avocados, $2.00
Total with tax, $38.80

Whole Foods
Kale, $2.49
Milk, $2.39
Pears, $1.33
Granola (bulk), $1.24
Tazo chamomile tea, $3.39
some really really really good cheese, $3.31
Banana (yes, just one), $.26
Total with tax, $18.69

Grand Total, $57.49 — ouch!

I am somewhat comforted because the duct tape and electrical tape were for taping up my laptop cord, which split this week. I spent less than $4 and hopefully it’ll last for a good long time, vs. $80 for a new cord. [Wrap split rubber with several layers of electrical tape, then add a couple of layers of duct tape to stiffen it and keep it from bending and stressing the wires more. I bought pretty rainbow duct tape, even, and I’m considering wrapping the whole cord top to bottom just for fun.]


I didn’t make anything new for lunch this week, so I’ll share my favorite brownie recipe. From memory, even, since I’ve made it so often. It is perfect: sweet without being cloying, perfectly fudgy without being too wet, nice crackly top. And you can make it in a single saucepan with a single utensil! A double recipe works in a 9×13 pan.

Butter and flour a 8″ square pan or a 8″ or 9″ round cake pan, or line it with parchment paper.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder [I use a rubber spatula to do my stirring so I can also use it to scrape the batter out eventually — you could use a wooden spoon]; crack eggs into the pan and stir them in, making sure the yolks and whites are well broken up and everything is fully incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. Dump in the flour and, on top of the flour, the baking powder and salt [skip the salt if you used salted butter] and use your spoon/spatula to stir up just the dry ingredients [you’re trying to spread the baking powder and salt out inside the flour, but don’t obsess about it] and then stir them in.

Optional, but highly recommended: at this point add about 1/2 c each of chocolate chips and walnuts. The chocolate chips will sort of half-melt and intensify everything. Mmmmmm.

Scrape into the prepared pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.


20 thoughts on “Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 15: Clear Perishables Before Travel (plus awesome brownies)

  1. I love your zero food waste motto which in the long run can save you lots of money. Have fun on your trip and thanks for the brownie recipe. I love brownies!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      You will love this recipe — it is SO GOOD.

  2. Hannah says:

    If your cheese is gorganzola, please eat a kale salad with pear, gorgonzola, nuts and an apple cider vinegar dressing.

    Oh and definitely wrap the whole cord. Rainbows are pretty 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I think I’ll take your advice on both points 🙂

  3. Alicia says:

    Those brownies sound delightfully gooey… I’m trying to keep my “non healthy” baking to a minimum though, so I sadly won’t be trying them 🙂 Have a good work trip C!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Well, I guess I should encourage you in your healthiness 🙂

  4. ha I go in egg phases too! I love that it’s a cheap source of protein! I’m doing fairly well with my no waste challenge but I did have to eggs accidentally get killed when I forgot that I was hard boiling them (I keep the heat super low) and they overcooked. RIP eggs. 🙁

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I can seriously go through a dozen in a week, or let them sit around forever! RIP your eggs 🙁

  5. Those brownies sound fabulous! I agree with putting chocolate chips in, makes them that much more awesome 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      It’s the way they get all half-melted and…hmm, maybe I should make these tonight 🙂

  6. Meghan says:


    I found you following a comment on blogging away debt, I really like your writing style. Two things: I have your brownie recipe in the oven right now (and tasted the batter, I am very excited) and if you are worried about the onion going bad while you are away you could consider dicing it up and freezing it.



    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hi Meghan, glad you came over! I like BAD quite a bit. Thanks for the onion suggestion — I’ve never tried that but I will! And isn’t the brownie batter delicious? I just love this recipe.

  7. I love adding walnuts to brownies! Then when I eat them, I tell myself I’m increasing my consumption of omega 3 fatty acids, healthy fats, and vitamin E. I’m all about focusing on the positives. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      That is a logical way of thinking! You know, brownies also have eggs in them, and eggs are good for you too.

  8. I love my tazo tea too! I’m struggling a bit with leaving no waste, but I’m definitely seeing progress.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yay for progress! I think that’s really all we can hope for. 🙂

  9. Don´t answer me if I´m being too nosy, but why do you travel so much for work? Don´t you teach? I´m just curious. And those brownies sound delicious! 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      No worries! I do teach, yes 🙂 The work travel has mostly been for conferences. I usually go to two a year. However, this year I am also helping to run a couple, including this one that I’m taking off for today. Also, I did some travel related to job interviewing this year. So it’s been a little heavy. I also sometimes go on research trips, but I haven’t done one of those in a while. University-level academics actually travel quite a bit, on the whole, between research trips and conferences; it’s not really all that comparable to high school teaching, as a job.

  10. ARBM says:

    Mmmm… brownies…

    My challenge when I’m going away for work is deciding if I should use everything up, or assume that my fiance will know what is in the fridge and use it up before it goes bad… generally it’s a 50/50 toss up when I come home… I’ve started listing everything that’s in the fridge and suggesting meals that he can make with them before I leave… hopefully that will help decrease the waste when I get home…

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Oh, that’s an interesting dilemma actually! One of the things that makes singleness a bit logistically easier 🙂

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