so i've decided to become a "freegan". well, not a true freegan. i read an article awhile back about people who dig through the trash and take out other people's old food and make meals out of it for the week, essentially eliminating their food budget. that's disgusting- but i decided that this would be an excellent opportunity for me to save some serious dough (pun intended!) and sock away more money for my "mission fund". this is coming from the girl who has frequently spent up to $50 on dinner and a glass of wine at a nice restaurant- by myself! the potential savings in my world could be HUGE! the plan was to only eat foods that are free, if at all possible. sound impossible? don't be so sure...it is actually a lot easier than you'd think.
first, i went to the obvious places- my cupboards and fridge/freezer. they were crammed full of stuff that i must have thought looked tasty at SOME point, because i bought it. my first project was to eat my way through all the stuff already in my house before buying any more. this led to some delicious creations (black bean and corn salsa with jalapeno and agave nectar) and some revolting ones (bulgar wheat salad with cranberries and blue cheese crumbles. i know, right?!).
i am kind of a social bee, though, and couldn't stand the thought of spending all my meals alone in my kitchen, eating stuff out of a can. that is when the full plan hatched. i would research all the events that had refreshments, snacks, drinks, etc...and attend them. i would then fill up on as much free food as possible before going home and supplementing, if needed, with the stuff from my "stash". this has worked beautifully, for the most part. with this lifestyle, however, i am definitely at the mercy of the event planner. for instance, one wednesday evening, my meal consisted of 4 cones of kettle corn and hawaiian shaved ice. that would be thanks to the lawrence public library and their "end of summer" party. another dinner was bacon wrapped dates and red velvet cupcakes (lawrence arts center). i have gone to open houses, and ribbon cuttings, and birthday parties. i have attended housewarmings (thank you summer skeet- yours was YUMMY!), art gallery openings, and music recitals. sample day at the grocery store is like going to disneyland! i have flooded my social calendar and have met with lots of interesting people- and saved oodles of money in the process!
now for the downside. as i pulled on my favorite old jeans this evening to celebrate the beginning of the beautiful fall weather, i discovered the biggest downside. or backside. you see, the freegan diet is not the healthiest diet. i am usually the girl that bypasses processed sugar, or white flour, or anything too greasy. i lean toward fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats. i shop(ped) at the merc and the natural sections of the bigger stores. i treat my body well and try to fill it with nourishing foods to help fuel it. now i eat anything that i can get my hands on that is free. this is the part of the strategy that may need some adjusting. haha! since starting this experiment, i have taken to eating cookies, and crackers, and cake, and all sorts of things that i wouldn't have ever considered putting in my mouth before. i volunteer at a local food pantry and the other day, a box of "sugar smacks" cereal was damaged (i swear i didn't do it just so i could take it home!) and i had that for dinner, the next day's breakfast, AND lunch. seriously. sugar smacks! i might need to rethink the menu.
one really fun development is that now my friends have nicknamed me "freegan" (um...is that a compliment?) and give me food that is going bad. one friend gave me her squishy tomatoes (which i made into a wonderful bruschetta) and another pointed out her stash of expired yogurt and told me to have a ball! i am finding that expiration dates are just a guideline and that gumballs purchased in 2005 with a 2007 expiration date are still very soft and "gummy" in 2011.
this has been so educational! well- it has been a long night so i had better grab a bite to eat and head to bed. i think i have a can of sardines and some raisins calling my name from the pantry...