Stop Food Waste
Two Power Moms Take the Challenge
Xouhoa Bowen and Christina Means have a few things in common: Both are activists working to empower women, are raising young children, and don’t like wasting food. Last fall, the two joined StopWaste’s “Food Waste Challenge,” measuring how much food was going to waste in their homes, then testing different practices to make the most of food and throw out less. Here are some insights they shared.
What motivated you to take the challenge?
Xouhoa: Every week, I’d take out my family’s compost pail and see all the food we could have saved. It’s bad for the environment and a waste of money too.
What kind of food did you find yourself wasting most?
Christina: A lot of vegetables that wilted before my family could eat them, partially used ingredients, and leftovers that were forgotten in the back of the fridge.
Since taking the challenge, how have your shopping habits changed?
Christina: I got serious about planning meals and making a shopping list based on those meals, rather than the other way around. I also discovered that recipes can build on each other so that a leftover from one day becomes part of the next day’s meal. It has helped me save money and time too!
Did you learn something new about preparing food?
Xouhoa: I have been amazed to see how much you can do with just the food you already have. One time I had guests over and no time to shop, but with all the veggies in the fridge, plus frozen meats and dry goods I already had, I made enough to feed nine adults! Now I always “shop” my fridge first and enjoy getting creative.
Do you store food differently now?
Xouhoa: I do. When I come back from shopping, I place new foods in the back of the fridge and bring those to the front that need to be eaten first.
Christina: I now store my beans, lentils, and pasta in mason jars, so I see what I have. And I use only clear or easy-to-label containers, so things don’t get lost in the fridge.
Any tips can you share to use up leftovers?
Xouhoa: Leftovers like bits of meat and assorted vegetables are great ingredients for Chinese stir-fry. Instead of eating the same meal as the day before, you get a whole new dish!
Christina: I agree there are many ways to use leftovers without eating the exact same dish. I often purée extra veggies to sneak into a sauce, or I add them to a quiche or soup. Some foods also freeze well and make for a quick meal later.
Keeping it up: Following through on resolutions is easier together than alone! Throughout the spring season, Edible East Bay’s e-newsletter will share insights from fellow food lovers who participated in the Stop Food Waste Challenge, as well as tools and tips to minimize food waste. Sign up for the newsletter or search the website blog for the series.