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Monday Q&A | Pantry waste, Compost Flies, and Used SLR equipment

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

How often do you go through your pantry? Do you often have crackers, rice, or pasta that goes bad before you can use it? Sometimes I buy a new product to try and we don’t like it (I currently have a large jar of dried edamame that I can’t bring myself to finish). Do you force these types of things down the gullet or do you just cut your losses and toss them?


I go through my pantry less frequently than I probably should! But pantry waste has not ever been a huge problem for me, even back before Food Waste Friday. Pantry foods have a really long shelf life most of the time, and I can usually manage to use them up before they go bad.

However, I do sometimes have waste of this sort..I recently had to throw out a container of steel cut oats because they’d gotten rancid. They were still safe to eat, but I am just not desperate enough to each rancid-tasting oatmeal. So, to answer your question, no, I don’t force myself to eat stuff that I really can’t stand.

If the food is still edible, though, I think it’s a good idea to give it away to a friend who would be interested in eating it. Maybe you have an edamame-loving acquaintance?

If you frequently have pantry waste, you might need to adopt a regular pantry-cleaning schedule. I have to do that with my fridge or else I completely lose track of what is in there (knowing what food you have is half the battle!). A regular perusal of my fridge’s contents is very helpful to me, and maybe it would help you with your pantry as well.

I have a question about composting that I’m hoping you can clarify. I am using your method of the rubbermaid container, and I’ve been filling it up for about 5 months now. This morning I went out to add my weekly bucket of scraps and I was greeted by a swarm of flies. I have livestock so I’m used to flies, but these guys were beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Do you have problems with flies or am I doing something wrong with what I’m adding to the compost pile? I’ve kept my composting to kitchen scraps and yard waste as your instructions indicated but I do have three other capable adults who live here (OK two of them are teenagers but close enough to grown up that I count them that way) who may add things when I’m not looking. Any ideas on what I can do to get rid of the flies? Seriously if I put out those fly paper trap things they’d be filled within minutes. I’m surprised my neighbor hasn’t complained. I’m tempted to dig a hole in my pasture and dump everything into it, bury it and call it a failed experiment. I thought I’d check with you first before I did anything drastic.


I’m guessing these were fruit flies, which are the main pests that hang around my compost bins. I’ve also had some smallish black flies which are different than the normal house fly…I’m not sure what they’re called!

The best advice I have is to make sure that you are adding enough browns (leaves, shredded paper, shredded cardboard, etc) to your pile. If your kitchen waste/browns ratio is off too much, your compost will be wet, stinky, and full of flies.

When I add compost to my bin, I always cover it with a layer of browns, which is my case is usually leaves or paper shreds. If I don’t do that, I have fly problems galore.

(it would be much better if my leaves were shredded…they’d compost faster that way. But compost doesn’t have to be perfect to work!)

The browns on top of the pile are too dry to compost at first, but they always get covered with another layer of wet compost in a short while, and they they have enough moisture to decompose.

Do you have any tips for first time buyers about what features and characteristics they should focus on when purchasing a dSLR body and lens? Also, I’m thinking about buying used. Do you have any specific tips for what to look out for if buying used? Would you recommend against buying a used (for the body/lens/both)?


Hmm. Since I’ve only used Canon digital SLR equipment, I’m probably a little bit biased towards their products. But I’d probably recommend that you buy either a Nikon or Canon SLR camera body. I know some people love other SLR brands, but I’d be a little bit nervous about going with a smaller SLR company.

If your budget is limited, I would suggest skimping a little bit on the camera body so that you have enough money for a nice lens. A body is nice, but the lens is really where it’s at. For the Canon, I cannot recommend the Canon 50mm f1.4 lens highly enough. I love this lens to pieces and it’s on my camera somewhere around 95% of the time (my $1200 24-70 lens doesn’t get nearly as much use as my $350 50mm does!).

Anyways, I’d rather have my Rebel body and my 50mm lens than my 7D with a not-so-great lens.

I have not ever bought a used piece of camera equipment yet, so I’m useless for advice in that arena. I buy other used items all the time, but for some reason, I’m scared to buy used camera equipment from someone I don’t know (I worry that it might have been dropped, or kept in unfriendly temperatures). Then again, there are a fair number of people who buy SLRs and lenses, decide they’re in over their heads, and then want to sell their equipment. So if you found a deal like that, it’d be worth going for!

Oh, and on my 365 blog, I have a list of all my current camera equipment, since I get asked about that so often.

Today’s 365 post: Zoe, in shadow.

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Becky @ MyKidsMake

Thursday 12th of August 2010

Thanks for the post about your composting. I have been wanting to compost for a while now but didnt want to shell out the $$ for those bins I see in the stores. I love the idea of the Rubbermaid container, so much so that I just went and set up my compost bin last night. Thanks!


Tuesday 10th of August 2010

I bought my Cannon rebel xsi off of ebay. It was a great experience! The company that was selling it as a floor model and as such cut the price drastically! It was essentially brand new,some surface scratches but nothing past that and the lens and camera case that came with it were brand new. I would be careful and do your research in to the sellers if you do decide to take the ebay route. Ask questions and request more photos if necessary, but if you can find a deal its often well worth it!



Tuesday 10th of August 2010

I recently bought a refurbished Nikon camera body from I had an old film SLR sitting around collecting dust and was able to use the old lens on a digital camera body. I've had the camera body for less than a month, but I can say that I was quite pleased with the service and product I received from adorama.


Monday 9th of August 2010

Just a comment to add to the pantry question.

When I buy new items, I do my best to place the newer items near the back and bring the older items forward. That way I know that I don't have food sitting there for years!


Monday 9th of August 2010

I bought my second hand Canon Rebel from a ramera repair store. They checked it out thoroughly before putting it up for sale and offered a 1 year gaurantee. I would be weary of buying one on eBay or Craig's list unles the price was so reasonable that I could also get any repair work done and be within my budget.

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