whole food ~ well made

Freezer Foraging for Food Waste & A Contest

In Portland, the blossoms may be bursting on the magnolia trees, the daffodils rising their faces to the sky and the farmers’ market beginning to bustle.

But here we’re still waiting for rhubarb and chives, and I’ve been lucky to sample fresh greens after helping my friend Beth weed her greenhouse.

Spring in this community is calving and lambing, turning over the compost once it’s defrosted and waiting. The season of preparation.

Planning for Food Waste

My spring ritual is to use up as much of last year’s stored goods–in the pantry and freezer as I can. Not only to make room for the crop of new foodstuffs, but also because it’s a reminder of the bounty I, like most people, keep on hand and forget to use. Trust me, there are pots of soup, stews, baked goods and desserts waiting to be created!

Today, when many bloggers are posting to raise awareness of childhood hunger in this country, food waste is one of the top issues on my mind. We live in such food abundance at restaurants, supermarkets and at home that as a nation we waste half of all the food produced, according to Wasted Food author Jonathan Bloom. It’s hard to appreciate the monumental costs of all this wasted food, from fossil fuels to your own hard-earned dollars.

Most troubling of all are the startling numbers of people, including 1 in 4 children, who go hungry amidst this bounty. Unthinkable and yet real.

Freezer Contest

In honor of Food Bloggers Against Hunger, I have a challenge for you in the style of a Chopped cooking competition with a call to action:

  • Go into your freezer and select 3 items to make a single meal.
  • Post your comment describing what you made and your plan for reducing waste in your own home for the chance to win this Wusthof boning knife. 
  • Contest ends on midnight Friday, April 12th and the winner will be announced.  is Erin Donovan who posted via Facebook on 4/10!

If you do nothing else…

  1. Make a pledge to reduce your own food waste by planning meals, using leftovers (we always have leftover night at our house) and only buying what you need.
  2. Send a letter to your congressman urging them to protect funding for federal nutrition programs, including SNAP (formerly food stamps), WIC, a program for women and children, and reduced and free school meals.
  3. See A Place at the Table, a new documentary about how we can band together to solve the immense problem of hunger in America (available on demand from Amazon and iTunes)

Here are more organizations to lend your support:

Here are my 3 favorite recipe ideas for using leftovers:


and become a forager


  1. I love this idea! I was thinking of going a similar route for my #takeyourplace post!

  2. Q

    Thanks for this post; I will share with friends and colleagues.

    Here’s our food waste reduction plan and how we got here. We are two adults living in one home. When our refrigerator died about 4 months ago, we ran loads of food to our neighbors to be saved. We realized how much stuff was hidden in the vast spaces of our standard size fridge (for the U.S.) as we loaded up boxes and bags. After we caught our breath, we were left wondering how many types of condiments one really need?

    We decided to try a small (think high end dorm room style) fridge for a while and we love it. There are no more hidden condiments or overzealous shopping sprees at the grocery store. We now walk to the store a couple of times a week to get exactly what we need – mostly fresh veggies. We can do this because we have a freezer and a pantry with canned and dried food and a store within walking distance. Those things aren’t available to everyone, but it has worked for us.

    Because of the teeny tiny fridge, I reach into my freezer frequently, but now you have me looking for the “odd item out”. I found some frozen rhubarb and black bean soup. I plan on putting the rhubarb into a risotto dish with the black beans to accompany them. Some cubed steak alongside the beans and risotto sounds good, too. The remaining rhubarb will be stewed and enjoyed with some frozen Oregon strawberries on the following day. All of this has to wait for room to open up in the fridge, but that should be soon!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your fresh take on the issue of hunger. The amount of food we waste in this country really goes from being irresponsible to practically criminal when you think about the millions of our fellow citizens who go without everyday. Great post.

  4. Whenever I go to take some of the things I’ve meticulously stored in the freezer out, I think Wait! I was supposed to be saving that! Have to remind myself that needing it was the occasion I was saving it FOR. Love to make fruit crisps and crumbles out of the masses of frozen fruit. Love brewer’s yeast on popcorn!! Lapsed FlyBaby. We clearly have many reasons to visit each other!

  5. Too funny, Janet! And, yes, lots of reasons for visiting.

  6. Erin Donovan

    I sent the letter. I made a lasagne using Bunchgrass beef, a sage-y, thyme-y, tomato sauce (made for squash gratin) and a hunk of salty au jus from prime rib roasted for a catering triumph (Beth’s) last October, and a 4 oz. jar of pesto I made last summer. But then I froze the last few slabs of the lasagna. Do I lose points for that?

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