The Zero Food Waste Summer Road Trip Challenge!

By Kelly Moreland, Owner of Mama Goose & Mimi’s Attic

Utilizing all of your fresh summer produce before it goes bad can be tricky, especially if you get a CSA , fruit share, or have a robust garden. Keeping up with this task gets even more complicated when you are heading out of town for a getaway. Before you resort to throwing everything in the compost bin, I have a Zero Food Waste Road Trip Challenge for you! (Ok, no pressure, but I did it and it was actually really fun.)

A couple of weeks ago, my daughters and I took a week-long road trip through New England. Two days before our departure, I assessed our refrigerator. It was jam-packed with beautiful, perky summer deliciousness (e.g. vegetables, fruit and herbs) which would have been great if we weren’t going to be gone for a week. It also happened to be 95 degrees outside. Overcome with pre-vacation fervor, I challenged myself to a zero-waste departure plan – no food would go to waste and we could enjoy the bounty of the Finger Lakes while on the road. Here is how I front-loaded vacation meal prep that we could eat in parks, on beaches, at roadside vistas or at our AirBnB destination.

I washed and chopped all vegetables suitable for dipping and sandwich making and put them in airtight containers filled with cold water to keep them crispy. These went into an ice chest along with a vat of hummus, tahini dressing, and fresh pita bread.

I rescued the beets that had been hiding in the bottom of my produce drawer and steamed them in the microwave to avoid using the oven during a heat wave. I also got really motivated and blanched and froze the beet greens (along with some turnip greens) which I plan on adding to a soup in the winter. I’m telling you – I took my challenge seriously!

When the beets cooled, I peeled them (optional) and tossed them into a kale salad along with a fistful of mint and a fistful of basil. Honestly, I can’t remember what else I threw into this salad, but this would be a great depository for scallions, cucumbers, radishes, turnips, carrots, seeds, nuts and some kind of cooked grain like farro or brown rice. You could also throw in cubes of day old bread from Wide Awake Bakery! The salad dressing can be tossed in right before serving, but the dressed salad can stay crispy in a refrigerator or well-managed ice chest for a few days.

Here’s the salad dressing recipe I used:

2 T diced shallots (No shallots? Try sweet onion or  just omit)
1 clove garlic, finely minced (Maybe more if not using shallots)
1 T lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
5 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 T honey to taste
1/2 tsp salt (I like coarse salt)
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
Put everything in a jar and shake.

Garlic Scapes always inspire me to make Vegan Garlic Scape & Kale Pesto, and pesto pasta is a great first night dinner when you’re staying at an AirBnB or rustic cabin which may not be fully-equiped for cooking.  It makes a nice spread on crackers or sandwiches too. I also made some simple Tahini Dressing. This didn’t really use up any vegetables, but it helped me up-sell my plan of rest stop pita pocket sandwiches to my daughters and avoid highway restaurant chains as much as possible.

Pictured above: The Tahini dressing, Kale Salad dressing and Garlic Scape & Kale Pesto.

Totally inspired by Sara Worden’s Full Plate Farm Collective newsletter, I made Strawberry Fennel tea. What are the ingredients? You guessed it – strawberries, fennel, and boiled water. The result is a refreshing licorice and berry flavored tea.

With the last available scraps of veggies, I made cucumber and kale sandwiches and, of course, wrapped them with Bee’s Wrap from Mimi’s Attic! I love that we carry  Bee’s Wraps and other sustainable home products, because they really are sturdy and useful and easy to wash.

It felt awesome leaving town with all these goodies. I will be honest- the heat wave made managing the ice chest was a bit of a chore, and some things did end up floating around in cold water sometimes. My next goal is to buy an ice chest with a built-in tray like I had when I was a kid, to keep some things separated from the ice. I also think an ice chest that has a drain spout would make things easier.

All in all, it was a creative challenge and a great excuse to clean out the refrigerator. Here’s the the last photo I took before I hopped in the car:

A pretty darn clean fridge… and I even had beer for my return home!

We would love to hear your creative solutions to leaving town with zero food waste in your refrigerator. Let us know on Facebook or Instagram or next time you’re at Mimi’s!

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