Thursday, May 02, 2013

Castoff Groceries--Yes or No?

I have a theoretical question for you.

Let’s say we have a family of, oh, maybe six children.  They are busy people and they eat a lot.

But then time passes and, just hypothetically, three children move away, the mom tries to eat less sugar, one daughter goes gluten-free, and the remaining two children are picky.  In theory.  The dad will still snack on anything immediately visible, but nothing that requires digging or shuffling or opening of opaque containers.

So one day the mom cleans out the pantry.  She finds food that is not being eaten, such as, maybe, some off-brand candy bars and Oreo-type cookies.

Now we assume she has felt and seen enough poverty that it horrifies her to throw food away.

So she thinks, who would eat this? 

“Well, maybe hungry teenage boys who are less picky than mine.”  [She tastes a cookie to make sure it’s not stale, since even teenage boys have their limits.  It isn’t.]

We’ll assume the dad is a teacher, so the mom thinks, “Hey! He could take this stuff to school and set it on his desk and let anyone eat it that wants it!”

The dad forgets to take it, hypothetically.

So the mom asks the gluten-free daughter who is going that direction today.  Would she mind?

The daughter doesn't think this is a good idea.  She compares it to sending worn-out clothes to Africa.

The mom wonders, “Is she right?”

The mom also remembers, just hypothetically here, a neighbor lady named “Alice” whose children were leaving home just as this mom’s were entering the high-calorie-consumption years.  Alice would call and say, “I feel so stupid even ASKING this, and ‘Larry’ thinks I’m crazy, but we have this stuff here that’s just not getting eaten and I hate to throw it away.  There are two bottles of barbecue sauce—I have NO idea why we bought so many—and some potato salad and dinner rolls from the family reunion, and some cheese that I’m afraid is going to go bad if it doesn’t get eaten.  I feel really dumb even offering that because it’s already opened, and it’s FINE if you say no, but . . . is there any chance…???”

And this mom would be hopping up and down with impatience through all this at the thought of FOOD of any kind arriving that she didn’t have to buy or make.  She knew it would disappear almost immediately, and very quickly would assure Alice that YES that would be WONDERFUL and she did NOT have to APOLOGIZE for it, it was fine if she just ASKED.

So Alice or Larry would bring the food over [hypothetically] still apologizing as they handed it over, and it would get woofed down rapidly and the mom would be so grateful.

Which brings us back to the current dilemma.  If such a scenario were to show up in your life, and you were on the receiving end, either as a high schooler or a neighbor, how would you respond??

a--EWWW. Are you KIDDING me??
b-- Only if it’s brand name and unopened and before the sell-by date.
c-- Well, maybe, if it’s from a clean home and something we’d actually eat.
d-- Sure, why not?  We can always quietly toss it.
e-- YES!!! FOOD!!!! ANY FOOD!!!! THANK YOU!!!

After school today I had a few extra children in the house.  I posed this question to them.  The teenage girl gave a slight but polite grimace and said softly, “Wellllll, I don’t knooooow.”  The 12-year-old boy responded with a simple nod and a thumbs-up. 

Maybe that’s my answer right there.  Maybe moms and teenage boys are united on this one.

Theoretically of course.

Quote of the Day:
“. . . That means it’s nine-sixty-fourths of an inch in diameter.  Then air blows past and the light stuff blows out and then it falls down on this screen and the flax goes through and the peas go over the top.  It’s basically one-twenty-second of an inch there.  The third slat is rectangles, one-thirteenth of an inch by half an inch.  The flats fall through and the rounds don’t. . .”
--Paul, describing to a customer how he cleans flax seed


  1. This mom of 6 would gladly take your cookies!

  2. We had 7 and I was always glad for other's cast offs seeing as it would disappear quite fast, USUALLY. But I know that not everyone is always as eager as I used to be. (Empty nesters now...)


  3. I have four boys. Definitely choice e.

  4. Always the last one!!!!!!

  5. Mom of 6 over here says send it over! It won't last too long!

  6. Super frugal mom of 2- always the last one! :)

  7. Mom of 4+1 picky son-in law, with soon to be only two left at home,plus a flock of always munchy chickens would say bring it on. (Was that an algebra answer?)

  8. choice d and e. I rarely say no to anything free because I figure once it's been handed over, I can do what I want with it and make my final decision in peace.

    That said, if it's junk food, I don't feel bad AT ALL about tossing it in the trash or compost. So I routinely compost the kids' candy :) They get so much junk from school and holidays and only eat a piece or two before I cleverly hide it and dispose of it. Understand, I'm not talking about chocolate, just the sugar crap.

  9. hypothetical or not! This mom - here - has been guilty of the same. Both in the giving and in the receiving.

    It's all good. "C", "D", and "E".

    We're even known to grocery shop once-a-month at major discount grocery stores... where brand names with expired dates are the norm. ;)


    You're funny.

  10. Frugal mom of 4, 3 boys n 1 girl, ages 3,5,7,9. NO QUESTION...E!! They are eating me out of the house!! So thankful for my them dearly. (God blessed us with children thru the adoption plan.)

  11. I think we should do better at teaching our teenage girls to be more thankful...the day has been here in the past, and may well come again, where most people would have more than make their dollars stretch a bit farther!! I have a teenage girl by the way who would have wrinkled her nose too...I'm still trying to get the message across...
    Now like someone said, there is a used tea bags...!! :-)

  12. I say it is wonderful of them to ask, and I would always accept. As the mother of five, never with the luxury of much extra money, I am SO grateful when anyone picks me to hand their unwanted items. For extras from my own kitchen, I never have a hard time finding a family willing to gratefully take them so they don't go to waste! : )

  13. Another mom of four boys. Absolutely e.

  14. I would definitely take any and all!

  15. B) probably. I don't mind about being brand or not but the limit date is important.
    As you said of course, ask beforehand. I remember a few years ago, when, before going on holidays, some people in my building left some food they did not want to go bad in their fridge on our door step. Note that in the building, most people are wealthy but we are not and they know it. My mother and myself were shocked and felt insulted. Wrongly maybe, but they would have asked, it would have made an enormous difference.
    We felt they pitied us, and not in the best of way. But your idea of giving unused groceries to other people is great!!!

  16. I have 4 children, oldest 7. Definitely e!!!!!

  17. Hypothetically, I could see myself answering C, D, or E. It would probably most likely be C. Certainly doesn't gross me out, but I might not be happy for too much sugar for my toddlers. Hypothetically, they might get cavities or hyper or obese, you know. However, I suspect that if I were the teacher, it would be E.

  18. We call our growing crew of five a bunch of pyranhas so I'd take it and they'd devour it, probably wrapping and all.
    There was a day I had leftovers.

  19. Our pantry is always too full and I (sad sigh here) sometimes let food expire and then have to throw it away. However, when we didn't have a full pantry and had kids at home, I would have looked at your 'gift' of food as a blessing. I think it is fine to give away or donate unopened, not expired food--whether or not it is a name brand.

  20. Mom w/ 3 teen boys and 3 girls who sometimes eat like teen boys, bring it on!

  21. Free food? Yes! We are still into this even though our household is down to three. Yesterday we had barbeque from leftover pheasant previously cooked by my nearest neighbor. Today we had mock ham loaf concocted with grilled hot dogs leftover from the youth camping trip.
    The liquid used to mix it was V-8 juice somebody didn't want.
    Free food is delightful

  22. I work with the youth group at church and after events there is generally leftovers. When my son was home I would artfully arrange a snack tray when he had friends over and NOTHING went uneaten. Now that our son is off to college I take leftovers (these are most often individually wrapped snack items)and have a place in my office for anyone who wants to come and take from. It is also known there is no guarantee of freshness. (It all disappears, even the oldest after time. Snacking hunger always wins out:)