Zero Food Waste 2016, Week 5

zero food waste challenge 2015OK, but seriously, I need to update the graphic….

Anyway, I think winter is kind of an easy time to not waste food. For one thing, anything perishable seems especially precious right now. Summer, when the gardens and markets are (sometimes literally) overflowing, I still dislike waste, but it seems a little less urgent than now, when produce means so much more effort on someone’s part. Either it’s transported a long way, or it’s been saved in cold storage, or it’s been grown in a greenhouse and nurtured along. So I really feel motivated to make the most of it.

For another thing, I just eat less fragile stuff in the winter. The only berries in the house are safely frozen from last summer. When I buy greens, they’re very sturdy — it’s all kale, no spinach or chard, right now. Lots of sweet potatoes, squash, apples, things that can basically sit around for months if I don’t get around to them. Plus pantry staples: dried beans and grains are core parts of my winter diet, as are canned tomatoes.


Dental floss, $2.95
Soap, $2.59
Cabbage, $1.07
Parsley, $.89
Mint, $1.99
Carrots, $2.39
Dijon mustard, $3.29
Raisins, $3.79
1 lb walnuts, $8.99
Ketchup, $2.69
Cream cheese (x2), $4.00
Yogurt (x2), $6.00
Total with tax, $40.12

Whole Foods
Cara cara oranges, $2.07
Coffee, $1.29
Scones, $3.55
Total with tax, $6.90

Grand total, $47.02

What I Ate

Unexpectedly, I traveled for a funeral this week, but I knew about that before I shopped, so I bought less than I might have. The usual steel-cut oats/raisins/nuts/yogurt/blueberries for breakfast, and I decided to eat peanut butter sandwiches for the two work lunches I had to deal with before I left for the funeral. Snacks: apples and Cara Cara oranges (since the latter were on sale, and they’re delicious) along with chocolates someone gave me for my birthday last week. Finally, I hacked together this recipe out of several I found online. It was kind of inspired by rice-stuffed grape leaves, but I wanted more protein, and I wanted to know if cabbage leaves would work instead (more nutritious, less expensive.) It worked out pretty well. I also tried a few with some spare swiss chard leaves I had around and that was even better, so next time I’d just do that, probably.

Vegan Cabbage or Chard Rolls With Rice and Lentils

Cook some lentils — ideally a kind that holds its shape pretty well. Maybe 1 cup dry.

Dice or grate 2 medium onions. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a pot and saute some pine nuts until brown (just about a minute) then add the onions and saute for five minutes or so until they soften. Add 1 cup rice along with cinnamon, dried dill, salt, and a handful of raisins or currants. Saute for a minute, stirring until the rice is coated in oil, then add 1.5 cups of water. Cook over low heat with the lid on until the water is all absorbed. The rice will still be a little underdone.

Stir the lentils in, along with a handful each of chopped fresh mint and Italian parsley. Optionally stir in a handful of toasted walnuts or almonds. Check the seasoning.

Optionally, cut some tofu into long flat strips. I also threw some diced ginger into the rice mix, and I liked it, but others might not.

In a dutch oven, heat some water to a low boil. Drop in whole cabbage or swiss chard leaves just for a few seconds (10-30) until they wilt a bit. You need them to be flexible/soft enough to roll. Pull them out with tongs and drop them in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further.

Make rolls: lay out a leaf and put some rice filling in it, lay out a tofu strip on the rice, then roll up into a tight package and put in the dutch oven, seam side down. Pack the rolls (layers are fine) until you’re done. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over the pot, along with the juice of one lemon and a pinch of salt. Then add about a cup of water to the pot. Bring to a low boil, then turn it way down and put the lid on the pot. Let it cook for 15-30 minutes until the water is all absorbed/evaporated.

You can serve with a variety of condiments. I just used salted yogurt but if you leave the tofu out a quick tomato sauce would probably work really well. Something garlicky 🙂

6 thoughts on “Zero Food Waste 2016, Week 5

  1. Hannah says:

    Now, I’m not about to pretend like this would be a healthy addition to your very healthy cabbage rolls, but we’ve been eating it quite a bit with falafel or greek style chicken.

    You don’t have to use canola if you don’t prefer that type of oil, but you need an oil that isn’t naturally strong flavored… I would go with grape seed over olive oil for example. I use canola though because I hope to increase the amount of GMOs in my body.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yes, well, it sounds delicious, so, whatever, health. Also, hee to the increased GMOs. I’m hoping for bionic eyes and teeth by the time I’m a senior citizen.

  2. Elise says:

    Cabbage rolls have a special place in my heart (and stomach). I’ll have to try your recipe! I usually use tomatoes and tomato sauce over the top, but I love the idea of using ginger. Yum!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      These were like a frankenstein’s monster of dolmades and cabbage rolls, but I liked them 🙂 Definitely an idea I’ll have to try again in the future.

  3. Jessica says:

    I love that winter produce does seem to last longer. I also think winter is an awesome time to add whatever leftovers you may have to a soup or stew. I did have an interesting food waste issue come up this week that I’m not sure how I’m going to handle. I made a lentil recipe (basically the lentils, coconut milk, curry paste and red pepper) that I did not care for. It didn’t quite have the flavor I was hoping it would. So now I have the dilemma of whether I should try to fix it, choke it down as is, or pitch it. The struggle is real!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Ooooh, that is a tough one. Honestly, I’d probably toss it. Bummer, but as long as you’re not doing it all the time…. On the other hand I have “fixed” things before, if they were expensive. Most notable is a chili recipe I really didn’t like, but I’d bought really nice meat for it. I ended up fixing it with cans of tomatoes, brown sugar, and cocoa powder until it moderated into something I was ok with eating 🙂

Comments are closed.