Daddy The Garbage Disposal - Swampy's Kitchen Blog at - 282945

Swampy's Kitchen

Daddy The Garbage Disposal 
Aug. 29, 2012 12:09 pm 
Updated: Sep. 1, 2012 8:10 am
Got a little more than a handful of dusty cereal down at the bottom of an old cereal box that is clogging up your pantry shelf ? Have no fear, The Garbage Disposal will finish it for you. Two end pieces of bread that are sure to turn moldy before the kids will ever eat them in a twisted up bag at the bottom of the bread drawer ? Have no fear, The Garbage Disposal will make a sandwich out of them despite the fact that it doesn’t like the end pieces any more than the kids do. Scraps of scrambled eggs left on a breakfast plate that somehow didn’t get into the dishwasher from the kitchen counter ? Have no fear, The Garbage Disposal will scoop that right up. It’s not a glamorous job but somebody has to do it and in our house, that job falls to me more often than not. The reason I bring this up is that the other day the New York Times had an article by Matt Richtel called “Drop The Pasta, Dad, and No One Gets Hurt” (;ref=dining< ) in which he discussed the Daddy As A Garbage Pail mentality that a lot of us Dad’s go through when we cook for our kids. To a certain extent I could relate to what he wrote but when I discussed it further with my wife, we both agreed that cleaning up at mealtime isn’t just a male pastime.

Now I am sure that everyone grew up being told to finish off everything on their plate because there were hungry people in other parts of the world. I am sure that thought still goes through our minds as we clear off the plates from the dinner table and we notice those last few french fries or those last few bites of mac & cheese that were left behind. And I am sure that more than a few of us do surreptitiously shovel those bites into our mouth instead of into the garbage can or into the garbage disposal because it’s what our parent’s would have wanted us to do. But is it the right thing to do for us and for our children ? Is there a way for those of us that do “graze” off the dinner dishes to stop ? Is the answer really in how we prepare & serve our meals ?

When our children were younger, we prepared the meals for them and we served up the portions for each food group on their respective plates. Their dinner came out much like it does in a restaurant. The kids, being the somewhat fussy eaters that kids can be, would eat what they liked on the plate and fight us to the death on what they didn’t want to eat. As most parents know, that means that you are most likely going to give in and give them the extra pasta instead forcing them to eat the peas. We also know that it means that there is a higher likelihood that some of the extra pasta we give them is also going to come back because at that point the demand for more pasta from the child is more of an issue of control than it is true hunger. So in our frustration we eat the leftover pasta. Our waistlines then expand, our cholesterol goes up but no food gets wasted. Not a great solution and one that certainly does fall into the category of the parents being a garbage disposal. Now when we serve dinner, we serve it family style. The meal is cooked and the serving bowls are filled and placed on the table. The kids are all older and can make better decisions about what they like to eat and if we give them enough options, there is sure to be enough of something for everyone. The drawback, however, to this approach is that as we all know your eyes can be bigger than your stomach and there is a tendency to get a little heavy handed in what gets put onto each plate. While we, the parents, have control over the type of food, we find that we give up the control on the quantity that makes it to the plate. Again at the end of the meal we find that not everything on the plate has been eaten and again we have to make that decision as to whether we should throw it out or just pop that last bit into our mouth. In most cases now, thanks to Dr. Killjoy sending me to my room without dessert, the extra bites on the plate goes into the real garbage can and not into the Daddy or Mommy sized garbage cans. We already ate our meal too so we really don’t need that extra bite or two or three.

Now normally I wouldn’t end a blog with a question but I think that this topic actually begs me to ask, what do you do with those last few leftover bites on a plate or those last few crumbs in a box ? Do you scrape them into the trash ? Do you save them for the next meal or for a later snack ? Or do you shovel them in your mouth and hope that your waistline & hips don’t notice ?

Come back next time when I might actually talk about at least one of the shelves on my spice rack that I was supposed to talk about in my last couple of blogs.
Aug. 29, 2012 12:20 pm
We switched to using salad plates for dinner plates years ago. The dinner plates are now only used when we have company or at holidays. We rarely if ever have uneaten food on our small dishes. Small amounts of food in boxes get used somehow. Unhealthy foods like desserts are served in small portions but if they need to get tossed I do not have a problem with that. I would rather waste it than wear it.
Aug. 29, 2012 12:32 pm
Hi Marie C - we use salad plates too and have for several years. Always trying to trick our eyes & stomach. And I agree that it is better to waste it than than wear it.
Aug. 29, 2012 2:21 pm
Great blog, Doug. Much easier to get rid of the food before it goes ON my body!
Aug. 29, 2012 2:52 pm
Hi Doug! An "oh so true" blog! We watch our daughter and son in law polish off their kids plates like a well choreographed dance routine! No words are spoken. They must just know who gets what. Quite comical, really! Lucky for them their engines run fast or all the "Garbage Disposal" eating might catch up to them in their middle years!
Aug. 29, 2012 2:59 pm
Enjoyable blog, Doug. Glad to know others fight this bad habit too :)
Aug. 29, 2012 3:13 pm
Great blog! I don't have kids but I am notorious for saving a tablespoon of this or that for a snack. It drives my hubs CRAZY! Another reason I do it, I guess! lol At a restaurant if I don't have enough for a doggy bag then I just gorge myself.... can't stand to waste it!
Aug. 29, 2012 3:15 pm
I do the same thing, Shanon! What I can't finish, I save for a snack. My husband just shakes his head and smiles.
Aug. 29, 2012 4:03 pm
Hi Bibi & thanks. I'm trying not to wear the scraps as much these days.
Aug. 29, 2012 4:04 pm
Hi Cathy - my wife & I also have a little dance - there are certain foods that she feeds the kids that I will never touch so she knows those scraps are all hers.
Aug. 29, 2012 4:05 pm
Hi Paula - it's certainly a battle when the food is good too. My wife will even add a point or two to her WW at the end of the day if there were a lot of scraps.
Aug. 29, 2012 4:07 pm
Hi Shanon - I had to learn to cook enough for leftovers when I got married. Bachelor cooking didn't allow for leftovers. I will eat that last bite or two when I am in a restaurant because the doggie bags don't always get eaten. Have a great night.
Aug. 29, 2012 8:07 pm
Doug, enjoyed "the read!" Thought at first that you might be headed in a different direction... I will NOT finish that last bite on my plate - full, is full. Wild birds get any/all stale bread, cereal, etc. Our dogs are good for many other l/o's, but must admit, much of it goes into frige for a week, until it meets disposal of some sort! Also, I freeze the last bits of bread etc, then thaw, grind up well, and freeze again... why buy "bread crumbs?" Be well!
Aug. 29, 2012 9:15 pm
Our dogs get the plain meat, fat, veg and fruit. Lots of stuff makes it to the compost bin after the dogs have dined. But most leftover carbs, sauces and desserts go in the bin. I agree it's better to waste it than waist it.
Aug. 30, 2012 5:32 am
Good morning Stevie - nothing crazy about your thinking. We feed the birds the stale bread in the winter. Too many bears around to put out scraps when they are awake. Have a great day.
Aug. 30, 2012 5:34 am
Good morning hazelnut & I am stealing your final line. We are talking about getting a dog but until then, I am going to have to pick my spots. Have a great day.
Aug. 30, 2012 8:17 am
So so true! When I cook, I'm "taste testing" food as I go, then sit to eat, then take that last nibble of those leftovers...I need to take hazelnut's advice. With my boys, I tell them to serve small portions and then they can have another small portion of seconds. Seems to work, boys don't leave too much on their plates afterwards, at least not mine.
Aug. 30, 2012 9:46 am
Hi 1st Lady - taste testing along the way is occupational hazard that we all have to contend with. My teenage/tweenage girls have come back from camp recently and the way they eat now (like convicts), I bet they could give your boys a run for their money on getting those seconds. Have a nice day.
Aug. 30, 2012 5:35 pm
I was taught at camp that not eating everything on your plate was a sin. And anything your drop on the floor is still good ten seconds later. I always clean my plate, as I show you every night, but good blog anyways. oh yeah, sorry for making you finish off my sherbet tonight.
Aug. 30, 2012 6:25 pm
I was raised to always leave some small something on the plate as good manners and not appear to be trying to eat the pattern off the plate. I raised a horde of hungry barbarians so there was rarely anything to debate about. Since they are all grown I too have switched to smaller plates and try to only prepare what I will comfortably eat. Leftovers are wrapped and immediately put in the freezer, out of temptation. Cady, the 10 second rule has been proven to be a myth, and I'd like you around for quite a while.
Aug. 31, 2012 5:07 am
That sherbet was good Cates - thanks - I may have to sneak some more later
Aug. 31, 2012 5:09 am
Hi BigShotsMom - We had 3 boys in my family growing up and we did eat the patterns off the plate. I love that line. Thanks and have a great day.
Aug. 31, 2012 6:22 am
Eat the pattern off the plate! Hilarious. :) Those teenage locust keep an eye on their younger siblings plates, nothing tasty ever gets wasted when when they are around. I swear the only reason they offer to clear the table is so they can scavenge the remains.
Aug. 31, 2012 7:06 am
Good morning BN - when I drop a plate of steaks on the table I have to pull my hand back quickly or I will get forked by one of my kids. Leftover sweet potato fries are my weakness. Have a great weekend.
Aug. 31, 2012 7:28 am
Great blog! I never really had a chance to experience the "to clean or not clean the kid's plate", but I'm sure I was probably told often enough when I was growing up to clean my own plate. We use smaller plates now which works most of the time but sometimes we still overindulge if the meal is particularly good or something indulgent. My husband's teenage kid is still somewhat picky but much less so then he used to be. He rarely cleans his plate the first go round but asks us to leave it and continues to graze for another hour or so. It's almost always clean by the time that ritual is over. : ) I used to have a habit of taking a few more bites of something while putting it away but broke myself of that one. If I'm going to keep dropping those bags of sugar, that little habit had to go!
Aug. 31, 2012 3:00 pm
This is actually an ongoing discussion I have with my husband. He comes from a clean-your-plate household and I do not. I was raised where we served our own plates up. You learned to only serve what you would eat and you had to have everything offered so there was no discussion about finish your veggies, you just did it. I've managed to solve that problem by giving him smaller portions and keeping the serving dishes out of sight. If he sees it in front of him he kind of loses himself and finishes my leftover lunch! lol. It's something that we're definitely working on.
Aug. 31, 2012 5:52 pm
I am eagerly awaiting the spice rack discussion but in the meantime you pose a very interesting question. I was never told I had to finish everything on my plate but I knew there was nothing coming after that so I pretty much choked it down even if I didn't care for it. We rarely got dessert and almost never had snacks as kids so we pretty much ate what was served. Seconds were never heard of and I think that's because both of my parents lived through the Depression with six and eight siblings vying for the vittles as it were. Food on the table was always a blessing and should my sister or I even think to complain we were immediately reprimanded and reminded that we were lucky to have anything at all. My mom was a very frugal person so there were rarely leftovers to begin with...she bought the smallest roast or chicken and saved the bitter heart of the head lettuce my father favored for us kids so it didn't go to waste. I still don't care for bitter greens to this day. Fast forward to me raising a young boy on a shoestring and I carried on the tradition. I planned meals for the week and beyond, based on the weekly sales and factoring in every possible leftover. If we ran short, I ate less (always watching my weight anyway) and if we had extras, they went into the next day's meal somewhere. And I do it to this day. Right now in the fridge you will find 4 boneless buffalo wings, half a small rib-eye, one serving of scampi with brown rice and broccoli on the side, a serving of black beans, a serving of sauteed crimini mushrooms with vidalia onions and one portion of seafood ravioli. All of these were parts of meals over the last few days and each is in its respective Tupperware with the little pop-up steam vent so they can be reheated. The steak will end up as part of hubby's grand Sunday breakfast while the wings will end up on a platter with olives and crudites for munching during the Sprint Cup race. The ravioli and scampi will be tomorrow's lunch. Tonight I'm making two pork chops and homemade stuffing for him and Chick-free parmesan for me, with fresh green beans for our veg. There will be one serving of each protein left so it will be Sunday's lunch and I'll turn the leftover green beans into a small green bean casserole with the leftover sauteed mushrooms and onions for a side. I have no idea what I'll do with the beans but they'll get used up somewhere. I have trouble throwing away food. And because I don't eat meat, I have become pretty adept at saving small portions to make separate entrees--like that leftover chicken breast half that will become a chicken enchilada for hubby to serve with the spinach enchilada I'll make for myself. Come to think of it, that would be a good use for those beans....:-)
Sep. 1, 2012 8:10 am
I love to use up leftovers as much as I can and the ingredient search at Allrecipes is an invaluable tool for that. My waistline looks like I have cleaned up the kid's plates...but alas thos bites usually gets scraped into the electric garbage disposal much to my avatar's chagrine :)
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Doug Matthews

Home Town
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Living In
Mendham, New Jersey, USA

Member Since
Mar. 2000

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Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Southern, Healthy, Kids, Quick & Easy

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About Me
My mother decided early on that her sons would never have to rely on someone to feed them so we all learned to cook at an early age. I really started to branch out when I moved out west to Denver, SF & Dallas. Combine that with extended business travel to Louisiana & my growing love of spices and you get a real mix of flavors.
My favorite things to cook
Love to make cajun food with my favorites being crawfish pie, alligator stew & alligator chili - I go nuts on Super Bowl Sunday
My favorite family cooking traditions
We didn't have a lot of traditions per se but you could count on pancakes or waffles on sundays - dad making scrambled eggs twice a year on christmas morning & mother's day - veal parmagiana on christmas eve, Thanksgiving with Grandma Matthews and any menu of your choice on your birthday. We weren't a spicy family so I learned a lot of good strong basics in the kitchen from Mom that I have carried over into my cooking today.
My cooking triumphs
I love to experiment with variations of dishes I try around the country. My biggest success is here on allrecipes where I had 2 recipes published in the same cookbook - Southwestern Turkey Soup & Curried Carrot Soup. I think my corn muffins are a great starting point and my alligator chili has become a much requested Super Bowl favorite.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a few times in the past where I tossed everything and took everyone to a restaurant instead. I'm not too proud to say my cooking is awful when it really is.
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