Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 8: A little tired (plus mushroom marsala pasta)

zero food waste challenge 2015Trucking along, and I didn’t waste any food this week — but I am getting a little tired of figuring out how to manage with all the weirdness that’s been going on lately. I traveled, then I came home and caught a bad cold that had me eating strangely and off-plan for most of a week (I either didn’t want to eat at all, or I was reduced to only extra-spicy hot and sour soup to clear my sinuses out, or I had cravings, like the one that had me making cookies for the first time in over a month), and now I’m getting ready to travel again; I’ll be leaving Thursday afternoon (tomorrow) and won’t be returning home for ten days. After which I’ll be here for 2.5 days, then away again for 1.5 days! Sigh.

I guess my tip this week is just: whatever your goal is, whether it’s not wasting food or something else, there are going to be times when you just have to suck it up and get it done, even when you don’t have much enthusiasm. I got through last week with the cold: I ate everything perishable that I had, and used some leftover pocket money to buy the soup and two extra boxes of tissues. This “week,” since I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon and therefore only had a few days to cover, I decided to be as simple as possible. I made a soothing, comforting pasta dish using some ingredients I already had on hand, and some oatmeal for breakfast, and bought apples to cover snacks, with eggs and cheese and bread already on hand to cover any gaps. This meant that my shopping was really cheap this week, yay.

Grocery Shopping Report

I was actually pretty heavy on the household goods this week, since we were low on hand soap (we buy Mrs. Meier’s, which is expensive but worth it). Also, at the grocery store I go to, they announced over the loudspeaker that their credit/debit card system was down! Cash and checks only! Good thing I’m on the all-cash grocery shopping plan 🙂 I felt very prepared.

Grocery Store
Deodorant, $2.59
Parsley, $.89
Pasta, $1.34
1 lb mushrooms, $2.00 (awesome sale)
Tissues, $1.57
Total: 8.68

Whole Foods
bacon (bulk)
liquid hand soap, $7.99 (refill for two normal-sized bottles)
1 onion
1 banana
granola (bulk)
apples (on sale),
blackberry-oatmeal scone (ADDICTED; I got the very last one and I was so psyched)
Total: $20.16

Grand Total: $28.84

Mushroom Marsala Pasta
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I had the marsala open in the fridge from a related dish I made earlier this winter, and seeing as how it’s by far the most expensive ingredient here, along with parmegiano reggiano cheese and artichoke hearts (both of which I also had in the pantry) I was all set to make this with just a few cheap ingredients. And bacon 🙂

1/3-1/2 lb bacon, diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 lb mushrooms, chopped however you like (I prefer small)
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or a little more to taste)
1 cup Marsala
1 lb pasta (something chunky)
1 jar grilled artichoke hearts in oil, drained and chopped (don’t use frozen artichoke hearts or artichoke hearts packed in water; you need more flavor than those will give you. I like the grilled ones, but if you can’t find those you could use any kind of seasoned oil-packed artichoke hearts.)
3/4 cup grated parmegiano reggiano
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or some other kind of dairy, like cream, half-and-half, or even whole milk; if you can’t have dairy, you could sub in some broth here)
1 bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley (original called for 1/2 cup; I both dislike food waste, and like Italian parsley, so I just chopped the whole bundle up and threw in whatever was there)
1 tsp ground black pepper

Fry the bacon in a big dutch oven, and when it’s crisp and all the fat is rendered, scoop it out and set aside. At this point, if you haven’t done so already, get a pot of salted water going for the pasta. Then fry the onion in the fat for about a minute, and add the mushrooms and salt. Stir every now and then, and when the mushrooms have given up their liquid and it’s evaporated, turn up the heat some and add the Marsala. Around now, you can start to cook the pasta in the other pot. When the Marsala is mostly evaporated (maybe five minutes?) turn off the heat. Drain the pasta, then add it to the pot with the mushroom mixture and turn the heat back on. Stir in artichoke hearts, cheese, and yogurt (or other) and cook until everything is heated through and some of the pasta is starting to brown. Stir in the parsley and pepper, and serve with the reserved bacon sprinkled on top.


30 thoughts on “Zero Food Waste 2015, Week 8: A little tired (plus mushroom marsala pasta)

  1. Yeah being sick and traveling can really throw a wrench into plans that’s for sure. I did kind of back this week with food waste. I made a big crock pot of chicken tortilla soup and only ate it 3 times before I looked at it and said, “I can’t…I just can’t.” I have very weird picky tastes like. People mention freezing it but I’ve tried that and when I unfreeze it it does not look appetizing to me at all. I think I need to start making smaller, but still cheaper meals so nothing goes to waste. That might mean more shopping, but at least I don’t have to feel guilty.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I totally have that happen to me (I can’t, I just can’t). For me, it’s all about knowing what you personally will and won’t do — reading up on best practices is fine, but if you know that you’re not actually going to eat the unfrozen soup or whatever, then you should do something else, like smaller meals.

  2. That mushroom pasta sounds amazing, I may have to push that recipe over to the wife and see what she thinks!

    Being sick is a bummer and definitely puts an end to plans. Though the wife is pregnant (not necessarily sick) we started to make bulk meals and freeze them for when the little one gets here. It should save some $$$ and time cooking/going to the store while deliriously tired and covered in baby fluids.

    Hope you feel better soon, being sick is the worst.


    1. thesingledollar says:

      It’s super good! You may or may not need to adjust the salt levels — I didn’t put any extra salt in because I used bacon, parmesan, and olives, all of which are salty, but I actually think I should have; it needed a bit more. You can add some when you saute the mushrooms.

  3. Oooh I love Smitten Kitchen, I’ll have to try that recipe without the bacon. Traveling always screws up my schedule as well, and it usually takes me a couple days to get back into the groove once I’m home. I think in the future I’ll just have to plan ahead better, and I really should start making freezer meals for those nights we get back from traveling, or have long days at work.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Are you a vegetarian? The bacon isn’t in the original — I added it because I thought the flavors needed a bit of pumping up. So I would sub in something else — olives maybe — and add more parmesan. Also add some salt when you sautee the mushrooms (use olive oil instead of bacon fat of course.)

  4. Alicia says:

    That pasta sounds lovely. Who doesn’t love a good excuse to have bacon with pasta? 🙂 Sorry to hear you’re under the weather… especially when you have travel plans. Here’s hoping to lots of ginger ale or tomato juice to help with flights (those are my go-to’s because I’ve developed adult-onset motion sickness over the past few years…)

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Ginger ale does help! Sugar and carbonation, good combo 🙂 I’m feeling better now — the cold is mostly gone, just a little sniffly — but it’s been a low-energy week for sure.

  5. That pasta sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have been on a mushroom kick again lately, I love those little guys.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      they’re great! And I really like the recipe too 🙂

  6. Jenna says:

    Great job on feeling sick and doing it anyways! Sounds like you’ve got a crazy schedule coming up — good luck!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      thanks — I need it!

  7. Kristin says:

    I need to see photos of this pasta you made, it sounds amazing! And it’s probably just me, but I hate buying tissues! I get so annoyed by it! I think it’s because I only buy them when I am sick, but I act like the cost is ridiculous. Don’t you love the cash only method?!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      There are photos at the link! Smitten Kitchen is a great food blog. I have to say, this pasta is not necessarily super photogenic though — lots of browns 🙂 It tastes great, however. And cash is also great!

  8. Travelling and being sick always throws us off our game. It’s awesome that you stuck to it. NO food waste! I’m so impressed!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Well, this travel week coming up will really test my resolve!

  9. You lost me at Mushroom. So many yucks! (Yes, I have the tastebuds of a child.)

    I’m super impressed by your zero food waste. I’m getting way better now that I’m meal planning, but inevitably food is still making it to the trash. I did opt out of buying a few things at the store last time, because I didn’t feel like I could eat them in time. progress. progress!

    Glad you are feeling better! Safe travels!

    1. Yup, if you don’t like mushrooms, this is not the recipe for you 🙂 Food waste is a process for me — I clearly respond well to challenges, so I’m doing great right now, but it’s been an awful problem in the past so I’m just trying to improve 🙂 Progress is good!

  10. Amy says:

    Yum – that mushroom marsala pasta sounds fabulous! Hope you’re feeling better.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      It’s so good! And I am, thanks 🙂

  11. So maybe you’ve talked about this before but have you considered also composting? That’s a good way to get rid of scraps or really small portions of compostable items.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      It’s not really possible in my situation, but it is a good idea! I should talk about it some.

  12. ARBM says:

    mmmmmmmmmm….. mushrooms… bacon… I might have to make this for dinner this weekend…

    Sounds like you are feeling better now, but I totally get the chaos that comes from traveling and being sick. You are doing an amazing job of sticking to the challenge, so keep it up. You are inspiring me, along with many others, I am sure. I can’t say that I’ve been at the zero food waste level, but I definitely am making much more of an effort since I’m following along your challenge.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      That’s so cool! I love that I’m inspiring other people too — it’s helping keep me on track to blog, so I think we’re all winning 🙂 Also, you should def make this dish — if you like mushrooms and bacon it is a real winner 🙂

  13. I love the idea of “zero food waste.” I’ve recently committed to getting under 2 pounds/month by the end of the year. I’m not there yet, but I’m learning!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      It’s a process! For me definitely. I’ve always been a big food waster (just over-bought produce and other things) and I’m trying to teach/learn about this myself as I blog. It’s going pretty well so far now that I’m focused on it. Looking forward to reading more about your own efforts!

  14. Kayla says:

    This is a cool series! I made a similar plan at the beginning of the year, and have only been mildly successful. For me, the biggest trick is to stop getting so many ideas on what I should be eating, buying said groceries, and then never using them. If I’m going to try a new recipe, I’ll only buy the ingredients for it the night I’m ready to make/try it. Otherwise, it’s only my usual groceries that I know I’ll get through. It helps me keep a lot more organized, and I’m more apt to try new things because I don’t feel overwhelmed or like I’m pressuring myself into it!

    I’ve also started veggie gardening, so some of my more expensive produce will come to me, and if I do waste it or have to give it away, it’s hardly a concern. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Veggie gardening is wonderful! I don’t have a yard/room for a garden, but I might get in on some community gardening this year. I agree that buying only what you’re going to use right then is the key — that’s basically what I’ve been doing lately, and it’s helped *so* much.

  15. What a great plan! I don’t waste food very often, but sometimes I get tired of leftovers again and again and I end up dumping some of it in the trash. Cooking for 1 can be difficult at times.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Cooking for one is really challenging! It’s not the way our world is set up. However, over a decade or so I’ve learned how to do it pretty well — lots of trial and error. Glad you’re enjoying the series 😉

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