Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 41: Pack It Out, plus Twice-Baked Miso-Curry Squash

zero food waste challenge 2015(In case you were wondering, I googled “what week of the year is it?” and then subtracted 1, since I didn’t start this project until the second week of 2015.)

I want to share a picture of my fridge shelf (I have roommates, remember, so this is my portion of the fridge only) from Sunday night last week:

IMG_20151004_200556103 This is everything I ate last week, batch-cooked and portioned out. On the right are five servings of black bean soup, next are five servings of the squash bake below, and in the center row that’s three servings of steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries and pecans (I usually make three servings at a time and do another pot on Wednesday night). On the far left of the fridge you can see a loaf of my homemade bread stacked on top of a few jars of jam, and next to that are a carton of eggs, a box of dried dates, and a quart of milk; you can’t see them, but there’s a quart of yogurt and a quart of maple syrup tucked behind everything else. By the way, those red containers are made by Sistema and they are amazing. I picked one up on a whim a couple of years ago and loved it; it’s leakproof (really), has a little vent for steam when you microwave, is BPA free, and is just the right size for a lunch portion (IMO.) I bought a bunch more because I liked them so much and I use them for anything I’m going to take to work with me, including my breakfast oatmeal as well as various lunch dishes. Can’t recommend them highly enough. (The clear containers are just the very cheap Gladware bowls you can pick up at the grocery store near the ziploc bags. I’d like to replace them with glass sometime, but….)

IMG_20151004_200646918For completeness, here’s what my fridge drawer looked like the same night. This is usually where I keep staples that are just mine; we have shared things like mustards and soy sauce on the fridge door. So, in the back row of the drawer you can see miso paste, yeast, a mason jar of preserved Meyer lemons, vegetable and chicken soup base (sort of like bouillon); in the middle, a jar of tahini, half a bag of coconut flakes, and a stick of butter (I got more out of the freezer just after I took this); and at the front, lemons and an orange on the left, garlic, shallots, and parmegiano cheese on the right.

OK, anyway, my point is — getting everything all set up makes it possible for me to actually eat what I cook. In the morning, I grab breakfast and lunch and stick them in my tote, and in the evening, dinner is ready in the correct portion and just has to be put on a plate and/or heated up. Plus, it stacks and stores neatly so I know exactly what I have.

IMG_20151007_120856017_HDROn the left is a picture I took of the shared fridge at work. That’s a tiny container of pre-sliced salami, a tiny container of hummus, and two individually wrapped pieces of string cheese there. At first I was horrified, but then I realized I shouldn’t judge this person, whoever it is, too much — I’m kind of appalled at the disposable plastic, but the instinct is basically the same, I guess. Have food in portions you’ll eat so that you don’t end up throwing it out. But please, anonymous person at work, just buy salami on the weekend and slice it up and put it in reusable containers! Also hummus and cheese!


It was an expensive week for groceries since I needed a couple of household items and I had to get some stuff for a potluck I’m going to this week (making lasagne, hence all the cheese) and for a friend’s birthday cake I’m baking (that’s all the chocolate and cream.)

Whole Foods
Hand soap refill jug, $8.99
Ricotta, $6.00
Tofu, $1.99
Half and half, $2.99
Yogurt, $3.69
Milk, $2.39
Cream, $3.69
Fresh mozzarella, $8
Steel-cut oats, $4.39
Cookies, $3.24
Instant espresso powder, $3.99
Total with tax, $49.85

Pillow, $7.99
Acorn squash, $2.95
Lasagne noodles, $2.19
Coconut milk, $2.19
Cocoa powder, $3.49
Semisweet chocolate chips, $3.19
Bittersweet chocolate chips, $3.19
Brown sugar, $2.50
Tissues, $2.00
Total with tax, $30.84

Grand total, $80.69

Twice-baked Miso Curry Delicata Squash
adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

The big innovation I made here was to intentionally turn this meal into leftovers — in the original, it’s not twice-baked, and hey, it tastes perfectly good that way. But I tried heating it up as leftovers and found it was even better, golden, crunchy, a bit caramelized, and the kale got a bit of crunch to it also, which I liked. So now I’m making it this way on purpose. I won’t tell anyone if you decide to just eat it once-baked.

Also, this is another recipe I doubled because I was intentionally making a week’s worth. You can un-double it if you’re just trying to serve 3 or 4 people a weeknight dinner.

2 medium-sized delicata squash [these are glorious because you don’t have to peel them; the skin is very edible. They’re sweet and a bit starchy, taste something like a butternut and something like a sweet potato. In a pinch you could substitute any other kind of winter squash.]
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c white miso
3 tbsp red Thai curry paste [I increased the quantity here because I found that my curry paste didn’t taste very strong; if you have a really good, bold one, reduce to 2 tbsp]
16 oz extra-firm tofu, drained, press, and cut into small cubes
8 medium new potatoes [I’ve used both yukon golds, and a bag of fingerlings], cut into chunks
4 tbsp lemon juice
a bunch of kale, preferably dinosaur/lacinato or red russian, stripped of its thick stems and cut into ribbons or chopped
2/3 c toasted pepitas (or be really thrifty and toast the squash seeds, which is what I did; they won’t have the snap and crunch of pepitas, they’re chewier, but hard to argue with the price!)
a bundle of chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400 F and lay out two baking sheets with rims.

Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and cut into 1/2″ thick half-moons. Divide the squash equally between the two baking sheets. Add the tofu and potatoes, again dividing them equally.

In a bowl, whisk the olive oil, miso, and curry paste. Pour about 1/3 c of this mixture over each pan and use your hands to toss everything, finishing up by arranging it all in a single layer. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, depending on your oven (sometimes mine takes as much as 40 min to do everything to my satisfaction!), until it’s all tender and browned. Stir it around, flipping the squash slices, once or twice during roasting.

Meanwhile, chop the kale and put it in a big bowl. Add the lemon juice to the remaining miso-curry mix and stir all that into the kale.

When the vegetables are done, toss them with the kale, pepitas or squash seeds, and cilantro.

At this point, you can eat the dish. But what I like to do is let it cool down, then portion it out. Then, the next night, I put enough for dinner back into the oven at 350 for about 8-10 minutes. The kale will start to crisp up, and the potatoes and squash and tofu will get a bit caramelized, and it’s really just wonderful 🙂

9 thoughts on “Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 41: Pack It Out, plus Twice-Baked Miso-Curry Squash

  1. I use plenty of tiny containers for my meals at work too. That means a lot of container-cleaning, but it’s worth it to have interesting meals at work (without paying for it). Your food organization is VERY impressive. Love those pictures.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      It is so worth it — I agree. I just clean the containers with the dinner dishes and it’s not that big a deal. Honestly, the organization is just because I’m too lazy to eat the stuff I cook any other way 🙂

  2. Wow – you’re so organized!! I’m very impressed!

    I generally judge lots of wasteful packaging, too, but in full disclosure, I have a cheese stick in my work lunch today. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I kind of have to be — otherwise I waste a lot of food! The grab-and-go system is the only thing I’ve proven to work for me. 🙂 No judgment on your cheese stick. Sometimes you gotta.

  3. Sarah Noelle says:

    Oh man, I love this. There is definitely a huge and highly important intersection between food and planning and money. I’m pretty fanatical about packing my lunch, but I have to say that you are even more organized than I am. I am only now starting to plan my dinners in advance…
    Also, zero food waste = awesome.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      It’s a work in progress! There are weeks when I eat peanut butter or scavenge the back of my freezer, and I don’t take photos of those 🙂 But I’ve been working on my system and I’ve made a lot of progress since committing to the no-waste thing in January.

  4. You’re so organized!!! I find whenever I have containers with the exact portions I need for a meal, the more likely I am to eat it. It could not get any easier!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      That’s it exactly — it’s pretty pathetic that I can get derailed by something as simple as packing the right portion in the morning before work, but I totally can. So it helps to have it pre-portioned 🙂

  5. ARBM says:

    I love how organized you are with your meals! I wish I could do that! I have sometimes put together containers of cut veggies for the week, and little containers of hummus, but I don’t do it regularly. That’s awesome. And this recipe also sounds delicious! I love miso on everything!

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