I’d really like some loose beans.

by Kristen on March 14, 2014 · 41 comments

in Food Waste Friday

Every week, I post a picture of the food that has gone bad over the last seven days. Why do I do this? Because in March of 2008, I finally got fed up with the amount of food I was wasting, and I thought that showing my waste to other people would motivate me to use up my food instead of wasting it. Because this often embarrassing practice was so helpful for me, I invited other bloggers to join me in posting their food waste photos, and Food Waste Friday was born.

I’m not sure what it is, but it seems like every grocery store I visit is starting to only sell green beans in big plastic bags.

And big plastic bags of beans usually get the best of me, as this one did.

Frugal Girl's Food Waste

Boo.

I usually manage to cook at least half the bag, and then I don’t get around to cooking up more beans in time.

Maybe when summer rolls around they’ll start selling loose beans again and then I can buy the perfect amount. I keep buying the big bags, thinking that this time, I will surely get around to cooking them all, but based on my track record, I should probably stop being so optimistic.

Ahem.

I also had to throw out some leftover chicken salad. It was good initially, but after sitting overnight, the chicken got really mushy, which I am assuming is due to the vinegar in the dressing.

So next time I will only dress the amount we will eat right away.

I feel like this picture of food waste was awfully dark and dreary, so here’s some color to perk things up.

girls in pop-up tent

(We bought this pop-up tent years ago, and Sonia especially likes to set up a nest inside of it and do her schoolwork there. ;) )

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 norskier March 14, 2014 at 7:40 am

It seems they might be reviewing Latin cards. :-)

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2 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 7:48 am

Yup!

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3 Joyc March 14, 2014 at 7:47 am

Those little tents are always worth the money.

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4 Jo@simplybeingmum March 14, 2014 at 7:55 am

I too had leftover chicken. But as it wasn’t dressed I rustled up a No Waste Tastes Great recipe. Leftover Lasagne (Lasagna)… Looking forward to the taste test tonight…

Love the pop up tent. My youngest has one in his room also.

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5 Live and Learn-Toss and Turn March 14, 2014 at 8:24 am

I had a mushy an orange in a bag I bought this week. Other than that, we had a pretty good week. Also, the picture of your kids in the tent is one of the best advertisements for home schooling I’ve seen.

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6 Froggi March 14, 2014 at 8:34 am

Maybe an independent grocer for the loose beans if you have one in your area? Seems like the chains like to package things more and more. Our local grocer (Lauer’s) always seems to have loose green beans.

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7 Fran March 14, 2014 at 8:37 am

Why not freeze some of the beans?

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8 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 8:54 am

Maybe it’s just me, but frozen green beans don’t taste very good to me. Or the texture is off or something!

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9 Jessie:Improved March 14, 2014 at 9:33 am

Do you blanche the green beans before freezing them? They won’t come out right if not.

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10 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 9:41 am

I’ve mostly had the kind from the store-I assume those are blanched?

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11 Diane March 14, 2014 at 8:41 am

Tent nests and children are the best combination!

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12 Carol in CT March 14, 2014 at 8:43 am

I suggest steaming the whole bag when you bring it home, blanching 1/2 and after towel drying, flash freeze them for another time.
HTH

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13 WilliamB March 14, 2014 at 8:50 am

Have you tried CI’s recipes for Braised String Beans? There’s an Italian and an Asian version.

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14 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 8:54 am

Hmm. I use the pan-roasted one, where you cook them in a little oil, and then steam them briefly and then saute them with a garlic herb butter. That one is really good!

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15 Lisa March 14, 2014 at 9:06 am

Our store bags green beans too, but in open bags like they do with grapes so I just take what I want out of one.

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16 Jen March 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

Could you not freeze half the beans right off the bat?

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17 Sharon March 14, 2014 at 9:16 am

If your family eats pickles, you can always lightly steam green beans and then toss the beans into any leftover pickle brine you may have. After a few days, they should fully absorb the pickling favor, and make awesome snacks (and are pretty good in salads, too!)

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18 Patt March 14, 2014 at 9:20 am

Hi Kristen,

My store only sells bags but they will split the bag and sell what I want. They do that with grapes too. They have told me it’s okay
to do it myself….put it in the bags they supply by the produce. You might ask if you can bring in your own bag from home.

Patti

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19 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 9:41 am

The trouble with these is that they are pre-weighed and priced. So if I took some out, then the person who bought the bag I took some from would be getting a bum deal.

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20 Deborah March 14, 2014 at 9:44 am

Great idea! And for produce waste a good way to feel like it’s not a total lost is a small worm compost bin. They are pretty easy with a small tote.

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21 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

Yes! I do compost all of my produce waste/scraps, so at least I don’t have to throw them into the landfill. That would make me feel even worse!

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22 Em March 14, 2014 at 10:04 am

You should try Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for chicken salad. I replace the parsley with basil, though. It stays delicious for several days which makes it perfect for lunches.

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23 shannon March 14, 2014 at 10:05 am

You would be sad if you saw my food waste. Our fridge broke so you can guess how much waste. Now I have a fancy big fridge that is better organized so I hope to join int starting next week.

A thought on the beans could you fix half the bag and then blanch the other half and freeze them? maybe not but it might save the other half, and money if you only had to buy a bag every other week.

Love the homework tent, what a fun way to make homework not the dreaded after school activity.

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24 Lili@creativesavv March 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Kristen,
You can extend the usable life of fresh green beans simply by taking them out of the plastic bag, wrapping the bundle in a paper towel (or paper napkins), then sliding back into the plastic bag. The paper towel does a good job at absorbing excess moisture, and should give you a few extra days on the fresh beans.

If you don’t want to use paper towels/napkins, you could place them, unwrapped, in the basket portion inside a salad spinner, with a teaspoon of water at the bottom (check for moisture every couple of days). I use my salad spinner to store vegetables all the time. This is also a great way to store bagged leafy greens. Just dump the bag into the salad spinner, with a bit of water at the bottom. You can quickly see and remove leaves that are going bad, and keep the rest of your greens from going slimy.

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25 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Good to know!

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26 Jessica March 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Why don’t you cook the whole bag at once and then freeze half?

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27 Jessica March 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm

The comments didn’t show up until I commented lol. Another solution would be to share with a neighbor or friend, I guess.

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28 EcoCatLady March 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm

No food waste to report here.

Here’s my technique for using up those big bags of veggies – I just cook them all up at once – this works especially well if you’re make a green bean casserole or 3 bean salad, or something more exciting/appetizing than just plain steamed veggies. Of course, I’m a leftover lover, so when there’s something in the fridge that’s ready to eat, it doesn’t tend to last long… and if worse comes to worse you can always toss it in the freezer for later. But if there are ingredients in there that must be prepared before they can be eaten… well… ummm… that’s the danger zone!

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29 Liz B. March 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I had worse food waste this week than I usually do……had to pitch about a third of a vegetarian casserole that didn’t get eaten, because my hubby got sick (GI thing), and I was focusing on using up leftover food from my son’s birthday party last Sunday. The good news is, all the party food (veggie tray, cut up fruit, sandwich fixings) has been consumed, and hubby is feeling better.:-) The birthday cupcakes had no trouble disappearing.:-) This week will be better, I’m sure.

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30 SandyH March 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Mentioning the green beans that are packaged like grapes got me to thinking, I hardly ever need the full bag of grapes, so I usually remove some and take a smaller amount. Is that ok? And why are they sold this way now? In years past you just chose what you wanted and bagged it yourself, and they were weighed at the checkout like other produce. I haven’t seen the pre bagged green beans ( other than the ” cook in the bag” type). My stores definitely still sell them ” loose” .

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31 Linda March 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

“why are they sold that way now?”
Call me cynical, but I think its a marketing strategy to make us purchase more:)

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32 SandyH March 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm

I just can’t use 2 pounds of grapes before they go bad, and it really gripes me that that’s how they’re sold now. Boo!

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33 Katie | The Surly Housewife March 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I was perplexed by the bagged green beans at the store also. Luckily for me the recipe I needed them for used up the whole bag. Jamie Oliver’s garlicky green beans. Sooooo yummy.

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34 Linda March 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm

I would make a point to include a second meal on my menu that uses green beans. a couple of favorites at my house are:
http://cookeatshare.com/recipes/green-bean-and-hamburger-casserole-15215
and
http://www.cooks.com/recipe/si0sr39y/frankfurter-crown-casserole.html
you can also steam the extra beans and save them in the freezer until you want to use them. Wasting off season veggies is especially hard on me.

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35 Gladys March 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Our Philippine version of string beans is literally long and I can only find them at the Asian market or from friends who grow them, I tried to freeze some of them but they don’t taste good after being thawed out, so I have to use them ASAP in few days.
P.S- I love pop-up tent, ours is smaller than what your girls have and they love playing inside,so it’s normal for us to see this “walking-tent” around the house.

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36 s March 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm

I regularly buy and cook more veggies than I think we’ll eat to ensure that we will eat plenty of veggies. I would just cook up the whole bag. They are good on salads. :) And also, my grocery store will split up big packages like that and sell me smaller packages if I ask them to.

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37 Kathleen Griffy March 14, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Hi Kristen, As a Mom (now retired from that job, at least not on active duty), I would cook the whole “mess” up and either put the leftovers in the fridge to use later in the week or freeze. I have not adjusted to the newer crispy green bean style of cooking and still like the southern style of cooked green beans with onion and some crumbled bacon added for flavor. This seemed to help us use our veges cuz they were already cooked and ready to go. When we had out garden we were always covered up with veges and sometimes too many to eat but not enough to fill the canner! LOL

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38 Helen - myliladventures March 15, 2014 at 12:17 am

I’ve noticed the same thing about the green beans as well unless we buy them from an Asian market (where you can pick your own amount from the loose in the bin)

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39 Katie @ Horrific Knits March 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm

We have a store called Price Rite, that’s sort of like Aldis hybridized with a ‘normal’ grocery store. I get a lot of my produce for canning there because they have loose prodce like beans and cucumbers.

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40 Linda March 16, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I hate wasting food!

I have honestly started buying more canned and frozen veggies lately..I know it’s bad, but there are only two of us! I have thrown away soooo much fresh produce that was half used and then went bad!

Another tip is to toss it all into a big pot of soup before it goes bad. I get creative with produce that needs to be used right away and leftovers…like, I’ll chop up leftover meatloaf and use it in “hamburger soup” or use leftover taco meat and fixings and make taco soup…

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41 Karyn March 18, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Why don’t you blanch them and freeze them?
The green beans that is ;)

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