So we had our first conversation as a family yesterday: what are we doing for Lent this year? My kids are used to me (attempting) to give up plastics during Lent, and the weird experiments that follow. One year, I made bacon candles (I'll do a throwback post for that one) to see if one could avoid the plasticized candles from the store. Another year, their dad ended up doing most of the shopping, because I just wouldn't come home with items wrapped in plastic (this was known as "managing relationship priorities"). This year, I asked for us all to be on the same page. We'd try to reduce as much food plastic packaging as possible, and go mostly without meat. They agreed!
Amazingly, my kids seem to get it. That our current level of consumption is based on ease and convenience, and not really on a thoughtful use of resources. So we sat down over dinner to discuss: what challenges would we face as a family on this plan? What foods might not have a swap/switch/alternative option? Here's what we face as still being on the "unsolved" grocery list:
- Yogurt. It only comes in tiny glass containers, and is a staple of our snack times.
- String cheese. The youngest believes it is a birthright, and no one wants to fight him.
- Sliced Bread. -->>Middle Boy gamely suggested we try to bake our own bread, which isn't a bad idea. I suggested finding a bakery. Dad suggested giving up and accepting our Gluten Overlord. Eldest Girl was gleeful at the prospect of more "platter-type" lunches.
- Bagels. We migth be ok if we can find that magical bakery.
- Guinea pig food/cat food/dog food. Most of these either ONLY come in a plastic bag or plasticized paper, and I'm not sure we can manage another way, since our animals appear to be of a delicate, precious nature requiring just ONE type of food. Brats.
- Coffee. We can PROBABLY find a paper-sack version, or grind our own beans. Pray for us.
- Ranch Dressing. Don't laugh ya'll, we go through A LOT of ranch dressing. It comes in glass jars, but they are small, and we do not play with our ranch dressing. It is the condiment for all things. I could make it from scratch, but then all the composite ingredients need to avoid plastic packaging. Stay tuned.
- Meat. We plan to give it up, but I'm aware that Middle Boy has a pretty restricted diet anyway and we'd have to find some other solution for lunch meat slices. Stay tuned.
- Crackers. Goldfish are great, but we're going to miss Saltines.
- Juice boxes with straws: interestingly, the boxes recycle, but they all come with straws. Solution might be metal canteens, but 1) good luck finding a good and affordable one that seals and 2) keeping it clean. But there you go.
- Boost Supplemental nutrition drinks. I mentioned the restricted diet of Middle Boy, and the best we may be able to do is Boost Powder mixed with milk. It's still in a plastic container, but it does recycle and is an overall reduction in plastic waste.
- Cheese. Man, this shouldn't be an issue, but we just can't seem to find cheese that ISN'T wrapped in plastic! We might luck out at a cheese counter, but then we have to argue with the counter attendant not to wrap the sliced cheese in anything but paper, and if we learned anything in the past, it was this: do not question the authority of those who slice things for a living. They are... fastidious.
BUT behold, the list of all the things we think will be ok! Any incidental plastics we plan to "hoard" throughout Lent to see the quantity afterwards, regardless of whether it recycles.
+ Milk in cardboard
+ bulk cereal
+ juice in glass or concentrate in cardboard
+ red beans
+ rice in cloth bags
+ canned soups
+ mac n cheese from scratch (yay Velveeta in cardboard and ...welll wait. IS that foil?)
+ whole vegetables: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, green beans, onions, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, squash, avacadoes!, and cauliflower.
+ Whole fruit: apples, bananas, raisins, maybe dates, pineapples, melons
+ pesto pasta with tomatoes, olives and beans
+ pizza with make-ahead crust
+ baked potatoes! AT LAST. ALL THE EXCUSES I NEED TO EAT BAKED POTATOES 4EVA.
+ spaghetti with red sauce
+ ice cream and organic chocolate bars
This year we hope to learn from our past mistakes and do a big grocery run before Lent, so we aren't surprised mid-week with a desperate need for something that can only be found at one store. And this year--the youngest is potty trained! No more diapers or wipes! Hallelujah!
Seriously, we know that food is a small thing. But when you're a big family with two parents who work full time, anything involving food is both important and time consuming. I appreciate my family's willingness to try something different, and I'm grateful they didn't immediately groan and refuse. They're pretty awesome.
So... if this was YOUR family, what would be the hardest thing to miss or replace, that one thing with plastic packaging you can't skip? What isn't hard at all?