Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Use-It-Up Month: Recap

Hello! At the beginning of February I'd written a blog post on how it was going to be a "use-it-up month" - I'd "shop" from our freezer and pantry for our meals, and I'd make an effort to purchase only what I needed from thrift stores and other shops. 

So how did I do? Mostly pretty well, although I must say that the very cold, rather snowy weather we had all month played a factor in staying out of shops most of the time. Either I was tired after snow shoveling, or had no desire to traipse around town on icy roads and in below-zero windchills. 

One big success, as described in this post, was the making of a patchwork comforter for charity, using flannel I've had in my possession for a few years. I'm close to being done with this project. Okay, so some of the squares are a little off-kilter, but is it warm and colorful, as desired by the organization requesting comforters? Yes, and yes! 

I had a lot of little "use-it-ups" as well, like some of the partly-used small bottles of hair conditioner brought home from hotel stays over the years. Since my hair isn't very long, I don't need a lot of conditioner, so those bottles were taking forever to empty. But then I read a tip on for a DIY fabric softener: put a capful of hair conditioner on a damp white washcloth and toss that in the dryer along with the clothes. I tried that and it seems to work well. 

Grocery bills were lower for the month because I used foodstuffs we already had on hand for our meals (other than fresh produce, milk and a few other necessities). I still have plenty of food in our basement freezer, but it's not quite as full as it was at the beginning of the month. 

I even finally got around to cooking up some soybeans I'd gotten from the farmer's market a few years back. At the time of purchase I figured I'd cook them up to use in soups, chili or vegetarian meals, but just never got around to cooking them. It seemed easier to use the more familiar black, pinto, kidney and white beans.

But since this bag of soybeans has been sitting in my pantry all this time, I decided I might as well use them. Cooked them up in the slow cooker and froze them in 1-cup portions (my cooking/storage method for the other dried beans I mentioned above). I used one of these portions to make Bolinas Soyburgers from my Diet For A Small Planet cookbook. These may sound unappealing to you, but I thought they turned out quite well. But then again, I happen to like the veggie burger recipes I've tried. 

Did I miss the mark on any facet of my use-it-up campaign? Yes, I did, when it came to not buying any reading material from the thrift stores. I thought it was reasonable to buy the current issue of Country Living magazine, for instance - at a quarter, that's a great buy compared to newsstand prices. But the three cookbooks I bought - well, at least I got rid of more than three books after I brought these home. 

I stayed away from thrift store fabric purchases, though, and passed up a number of interesting housewares - some vintage, some current, but all reasonably priced. But if there's one thing I've learned from shopping secondhand, it's that there's always another great buy another day. 

And now that it's another month, who knows? I'll probably purchase something other than a magazine or cookbook at a thrift store, and will likely add an unnecessary item to my grocery store shopping list. But my Use-It-Up Month was a fun challenge while it lasted!

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