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Do some foods make you more sad to "throw out" than others?

So I try to not throw out food as a general rule. But sometimes things just "go bad" before you get to them or before you remember that you have them hiding behind the milk in the back of the fridge.

Today I had to clean out my fridge (traveling) and had to make some hard decisions about what was going to survive long enough and what was going to spoil. (In this case, I'm giving some of my produce to neighbors - but let's consider that "throwing away" for this purpose).

I found it funny that I had broccoli that needed to go - I wasn't upset at all, no big deal.

Then I found, hidden behind said broccoli, sugar snap peas and I was sad that I didn't have a chance to eat them.

It just made me wonder if I value some produce more than others - or if having produce "staples" available year round makes us devalue them compared to other produce . . . . (i.e. I can always get broccoli that tastes alright, I can't always get sugar snap peas that taste/look good).

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  1. I hate it when any kind of meat leftovers have to get thrown out. Meat is my largest grocery expense so when we don't eat all of something made with it (either because the meal itself wasn't that great, or we just run out of time), It bums me out cause it's like $$ going in the trash.

    But I hear ya on produce too. Usually I'm pretty good at using it up, but we are leaving in 2 days, and I still have a huge thing of baby spinach and a large bag of green beans still left to use up because I over-bought. They will probably mostly end up in the trash :(

    13 Replies
    1. re: juliejulez


      Saute the spinach and freeze it. Same with the beans. They'll each be fine for soup or casserole dishes. Won't take you long.

      1. re: nemo

        That's a great idea, unfortunately I really don't like cooked spinach or any kind of greens. Raw only.

      2. re: juliejulez

        Solution: Go down to your local shelter and get a dog. Many fringe benefits as well.

        1. re: mwhitmore

          heh - yes there are many fringe benefits. but we still have to be a bit judicious about what we toss to Mr. or Ms. Whooferton. (I knew chocolate and chicken bones, but who'd have thought avocados and macadamias would be on the 'bad' list?)

          1. re: hill food

            "bad list"

            All the foods you've mentioned are certainly really bad for dogs…
            However, each dog is different.
            My purebred tiny Yorkshire terrier could barely tolerate anything that wasn't specifically designed for her metabolism.
            My street smart, mixed rescue can eat anything and everything she gets into and not blink an eye.
            Chocolate…eh. No problem and tons of it. She sniffs it out and will climb buildings for it.
            Chicken bones…eh.
            She's eaten anything and everything and going strong and she's OLD.

          2. re: mwhitmore

            I have 2 dogs but we don't feed them "people food". Gives them ummm stomach discomfort whenever they eat anything other than their usual food.

            1. re: juliejulez

              Ours too. We can feed him a few carrot or apple bit, maybe a green bean or two, or a tiny pinch of bread. But, on the flip side he's one of the few normal weight pugs I have ever seen.

          3. re: juliejulez

            i used to hate it whenever meat or poultry or fish needed to be discarded because a sentient creature suffered and died to end up in my fridge and by tossing it, i have completely disrespected it's life.

            since that time, i stopped eating meat and poultry all together and only eat fish occasionally.

            problem solved.

            i rarely have to throw out produce since i buy most of it as i need it.

            1. re: westsidegal

              You will never catch me giving up meat or poultry.

              1. re: westsidegal

                It's strange, me definitely being the carnivore that I've been all my life, but I'm beginning to feel the same way you do about throwing meat out.
                Meat's just starting to lose its appeal. A drive up the 5 (Stockton to be exact) toward SF will do it for most of my friends who've become staunch vegetarians. Perhaps it's because of my age, my health awareness or my palate changing.
                I purchase produce the same way you do and other than an occasional banana ripening rapidly I just never seem to have to toss any vegetable or fruit. It's consumed.

                1. re: latindancer

                  I got myself to eat less meat by buying only the best stuff. Let's just say we only eat it at home on occasion.

                  1. re: latindancer

                    i'm now on a jag of roasting vegetables.
                    roasted curried cauliflower and
                    roasted carrots served with a cumin/yogurt dipping sauce.
                    any leftover green onions get roasted at the same time as do other vegetables such as beets.
                    basically, whatever vegetables came as a "bunch" and wasn't used up in the recipe i prepared, now gets roasted.

                  2. re: westsidegal

                    In general I'm really careful with how much meat I buy. I practically never throw it away, since I set aside what I think I'll use in the next two to three days when I get home from shopping and freeze the rest.
                    Only once, about 10 years ago, did we go away for the day visiting friends and spontaneously stayed with them an extra few days. When we got back, I had to throw out a whole chicken. I felt just sick. It was so obviously one whole animal who had died for nothing. I've never forgotten.

                2. Yep, bacon or cheese. Sometimes they get away from me. Then last year I had to toss my whole fridge during a winter storm that occurred while I was away on business. Not much but all of my sauces, condiments, cheese, cream, that really sucked.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Crockett67

                    I have quite a sauce and condiment collection. I think it would be the most sad loss for me in a case like that.

                    1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                      Sometimes you don't realize it until you have to literally throw it away.

                      1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                        THat happened to me twice a couple of years ago. I lost my mayo collection and that one hurt the most. Now, I double and triple check the seal on the fridge door and make sure that is it CLOSED. (The old fridge door popped open during the day in the middle of summer. The seal was weak.)

                    2. Usually it is based on price.

                      Anything from my CSA makes me sad but two of us cannot consume the amount of salad greens we get. I need to see if my friend wants some.

                      1. Anything from the farmers market upsets me if I don't get around to using it.

                        1. Anything that I've made that I've forgotten to freeze or eat leftovers. Such a waste of my time and effort. Doesnt happen often.

                          1. I almost never let anything go bad enough to throw out (perhaps once or twice per year, tops), so when I do, I feel awful no matter what it is.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ricepad

                              Me too. I am currently pet-less but still find myself pulling the bits of meat off bones after making stock. I freeze it until I know I am going to be seeing friends who have dogs. I throw produce peels, cores, etc. into the woods for the wildlife.

                            2. We raise animals for a lot of our meat. It makes me feel awful if even a tiny bit gets thrown out since it came from an animal that I knew. For this same reason, I rarely sell or give away meat raised by us, because I don't know if it will be given the same respect I would give it.

                              1. I hate tossing food, but things happen. Found a hunka parmesan that got lost in fridge... wasn't moldy but so HARD, beyond saving.

                                My grandmother almost never bought bread crumbs... always had a big bowl of "heels" drying that us grand kids got to griind up with one of those grinders that clamped onto edge of counter/table. I do the same, but use food processor.

                                Have a place called "Produce Junction" near me... total no-frills and kinda bulk. Bought a 1 lb bag of jalapenos when I decided to make chili? NOT into very spicey stuff but they were DIRT cheap. Realized they'd just go bad in fridge before I every used them. Have a cheap-o dehydrater. Sliced stems off, split and dried till crispy. Then into food processor to pulverize into powder... NOTE TO SELF... do NOT immediately lift lid off food processor!! Send "deadly" cloud of coughing/sneezing in kitchen, but ended up with something a little different from cayenne powder.

                                When asparagus is local and fresh... could eat it every DAY. When price is GOOD... same thing. Losing a handful of spears for too long in fridge is a sad day... could be eating right over pot of Hollandaise!?!

                                1 Reply
                                1. Meats: I feel that since a sentient being died to produce it I shouldn't waste it. So I use leftovers as creatively as I can: in soups, stews, stir-fries, or added to ramen to perk it up.

                                  I'm learning to limit my vegetable buying, especially at the farmers' market.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      You gotta be shitting me…who throws out ice cream??

                                      1. re: ricepad

                                        As much as I love ice cream (and I love ice cream), I refuse to eat freezer-burned ice cream.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          You gotta be shitting me…who has ice cream around long enough for it to get freezer burn??

                                          1. re: ricepad

                                            When you travel as much as I do, even my ice cubes get freezer burn.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                Transfer your ice cream from the cardboard container to a cylindrical plastic or glass one. Trim down the lids from deli and other plastic tubs to fit into said container, leaving a little tab to allow you to get it out easily. Use the tabbed lid to press down and level the remaining ice cream, then put the regular lid on. It protects against freezer burn for a very long time.

                                              2. re: ricepad

                                                your 2 year old kid leaves the basement freezer door open just a little bit after pulling on the handle, not good for ice cream 5 hours later

                                                1. re: autumm

                                                  As a sidenote…

                                                  Who leaves their 2 year old kid around a basement freezer with the door ajar that they've opened?

                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                    the seal on the door is pretty bad, so it doesn't look open/not open enough for the light to go on, so we don't notice right away.

                                                2. re: ricepad

                                                  Me. I am not a huge ice cream fan, but occasionally I will buy a pint of something extra special. After a couple of weeks have gone by and I've only had a few spoonfuls,my husband considers it fair game. But, if he didn't, mine would get freezer burnt.

                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                    Moi. I don't really have a sweet tooth, but every once in awhile I get a craving for cookies and cream ice cream. I buy one of teeny tiny single serve sizes. I will eat maybe half and the rest burns in my freezer until I throw it out.

                                            1. I try not to let things go to waste by teaching myself and utlizing more preservation methods. Pickling, jamming and properly freezing things assists with most things. Of course prevention thru proper storage (climate, container, proximity to other items, organization) have to be observed. Plus having a love of soup, stirfry and eggs bring many opportunities for odds and ends.

                                              1. On the rare occasion that I have more homemade fruit pie on hand than takers, it absolutely bums me out to see a beautiful fruit pie, past its prime wind up in the trash. I don't like to freeze fruit pies once baked and I don't like the taste of cold fruit (so no go on stretching the expiration by refrigerating) and in the height of peach or strawberry season (NJ summer) sometimes they mold if left out too long.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Scrape off the mold.

                                                  Take the chance.
                                                  It's worth the risk.
                                                  It's pie.
                                                  Die happy.

                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    Oh, I agree and you're so right.

                                                    Plus, the fact that the crust, in a high humidity climate like I live in, loses its integrity after awhile.
                                                    That's why I find myself eating more pie than I should…like the whole thing if given the chance.

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      I agree with you, Latindancer. It breaks my heart to throw away pies and quiches. But here in Florida, the half-life of a pie is exceedingly short. I don't know why that is--heck, we're inside with the air conditioner running. But it is true. Pie crusts just don't last down here, even with a/c.

                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                      Send address. I will send husband. Open window. He will inhale pie without setting foot in house.

                                                    3. In my case, it depends on three things.

                                                      First, it depends on the price of the products. The more expensive the product is, the worse I feel about throwing it away.

                                                      Second, it correlates with the rarity of the food. Some items are not monetarily expensive, but they are very difficult to get hold of. I feel sad to toss out these rare items. For example, an seasonal item, or an item I bought far away during a vacation trip....etc.

                                                      Third, it has to do with my sense of surprise. Sometime I bought things that I simply did not have the time or energy to get to. They are in plain sight of mine. I would keep telling myself to use them, but unable to do so, and finally I had to toss them out. I actually feel less sad in these cases. I think this is because I saw these coming, and I wasn't surprised when I finally had to toss them away. Emotionally speaking, I was prepared.

                                                      1. At the moment, I've got a huge bag of grapefruit and lemons to be utilized along with pomegranates. They're going to bug me until they're processed. Juice for the poms (frozen) and curd for the grapefruit and lemons. If I end up pitching a few, it won't bother me too much.

                                                        We are good about using up leftovers and SO has no qualm eating expired foods - to the point that there are processed foods dating back to '06 that I won't touch but he's adamant that they are perfectly fine. They're on a shelf on the porch for him anytime he wants them.

                                                        Recently attended a holiday party and I helped the hostess clean up. She was adamant that ALL the leftovers get pitched. She did not want to see ANY leftovers put in the frigs. Whole trays of veggies, platters of enchiladas, bowls of salsa, olives, etc. into the trash.
                                                        That really got to me because if that'd been my home, they would have been saved and eaten or shared later. I know how hard she worked to put that party together and the complete waste (to me) was horrifying.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: JerryMe

                                                          JM..I so totally agree..When we have a huge amount of leftovers, especially from a party, my FIL takes them to a church, a few blocks away for the seniors to nibble on.

                                                          Generally, our non consumed foods that are discarded, is because some of the kids (adult children) living with us, intend to eat what we are making, but change their plans.
                                                          As a result, we post on the fridge for the week if dinner is being made on particular day. If no reply, then no food for them, but also no leftovers for me!

                                                          1. re: JerryMe

                                                            I love to munch on party leftovers for a few days after. That is the best part. People at my work would devour them.

                                                            1. re: JerryMe

                                                              I'd have done all I could to persuade the hostess let me take the leftovers to a shelter. Unless I was likely to be fired for making a scene, I'd have made enough of a fuss to embarrass her into obliging. Somebody like that is not someone I'd be friends with, so no harm there.

                                                              I realize I took the childhood remonstrance about "starving children in China" too much to heart, but I'm hard-wired by now. Today I decided to make stuffing without accompanying poultry, because I have chicken livers, bread, celery, and apple needing to be used. This weekend there will be a stirfry. So I started by making rice (the pasta method) in Better than Bouillon-flavored water. I saved what I drained off, and used some of it as the broth for the stuffing. There's still some left but tomorrow I am making soup and will include the broth in that.

                                                            2. In season food from the farmer's market. This one tomato stand we frequent has tomatoes like no other. I hate it when they don't all get eaten, and they spoil fast at room temp.

                                                              1. It burns my as* that Mrs. B insists on buying too much bread product (both variety and quantity) and we throw out about 2 loaves and 6-8 rolls every week. They don't actually go in the trash, they feed the wildlife in the woods out back.

                                                                I have more than enough bread for stuffing or bread crumbs in the freezer and don't need more every week.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                  For this reason, at least once I week I say to my husband that we need to find a way to buy half a loaf of bread. Or he has to get busy learning how to bake his own bread.

                                                                  1. re: khh1138

                                                                    Can you freeze it? that's what I do, it works really well.

                                                                2. If it's a leftover of something I made, then I AM somewhat upset. Moreso than if it's just something I picked up when out and about.

                                                                  1. Hi, thymes:

                                                                    I most hate to throw out leftovers from very expensive or labor-intensive preparations and the ingredients for them.

                                                                    I made Julia Child's lobster bisque for Christmas dinner (last night) and so I'll be bisque-ing it up for the next few days so it mustn't be pitched. Rather gouge my eyes out...


                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                      why the eyes? it's always the eyes?

                                                                      why doesn't anyone say, "i'd rather pull my teeth out?"

                                                                      1. re: alarash

                                                                        The eyes? Well, the teeth are necessary for EATING food, and this is Chowhound...

                                                                    2. I moved across the country to care for an ill family member for an extended period. Before I put everything I own into storage I gave away thousands of dollars worth of ingredients--from basic flour and sugar, to the most gourmet and expensive specialty items--to a very poor family. The husband, who was someone who wanted to be a foodie but couldn't afford to be one, was the only thing that made it less painful. At least I knew that family was _really_ going to appreciate it!!! I'll say this, though, it was a lot harder to give up all the specialty items than it was the flour and sugar!!!

                                                                      1. I'm right there with those who feel awful throwing out any sort of meat. Knowing that an animal died to give me meat, just for me to throw it away, really sends me on a guilt trip. I try to minimize it happening as much as possible.

                                                                        I also feel bad to throw away leftovers from a dish that I put a lot of work into, even if we don't like it. Then again, it's more likely that there will be uneaten leftovers of dishes we didn't like.

                                                                        1. Yes, and when you calculate in the inherent repulsive nature of broccoli, it's no contest!

                                                                          1. What about a bad dish? Keep the leftovers or toss?

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                              Bad as in didn't turn out well, or as in decaying? If the former, tinker to fix or repurpose it. If the latter, and not fixable by trimming or recooking, toss.

                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                I'll give it a second try the next day but if it still is bad, it has to go. Life's too short to force yourself to eat bad food - even if you made it.

                                                                              2. Fish. Any time I'm unable to use the fresh fish up and it goes bad I'm bummed.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  Agreed! I hate that! Last week I actually popped a filet that really needed to be used in the freezer in hopes of saving it and plan to use it minced into something to help salvage something of its value.

                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                    Fish that is left over, be it fried, broiled, poached or grilled is tossed within 24 hours if not eaten. We eat very little shell fish,so when we do, we try to buy what we need...

                                                                                    Frozen fish usually ends up, within a week as Ceviche, as a starter dish during the week.

                                                                                    With fish, when in doubt, throw it out!

                                                                                2. I just cleaned the freezer and tossed a giant bag of ricotta stuffed shells. I bought it from the local deli one day, I've had it for months now and have eaten lierally 4 shells out of what is probably 50 or so. I haven't thought of them since so I think their value is not worth the room they are taking up. I usually feel bad about throwing things out, but this one surprisingly left without guilt.

                                                                                  1. If I'm walking by a store around closing time and I'm feeling peckish for perishables, I'd often ask if I can get a discount on certain foods. Heck, free would be nice too, particularly if it's about to be tossed, but something mutually beneficial is good enough.

                                                                                    Maoz's fixins' bar- I'd like to hold a reception for myself, and hire it for the day.