Making the Most of the Modern Mammoth

If you are young and frugal, you have learned to make the most of any food that comes across your path. This includes the pinnacle of scavenged foodstuffs: corporate catered lunch leftovers.

With careful planning and ingenuity, you can actually harvest enough from one meal to last for several. What started as an experiment to see if I could stop taking lunches but still find sustenance for a full week turned into a complete lifestyle. I haven’t brought a lunch to work since sometime in the last millennium.

First, you have to know what things will survive the hostile environment of the office refrigerator for at least three days in airtight containers. The inside of the shared refrigerator is a hotbed of developing weapons of mass destruction. It is imperative that your containers be sufficient to keep the odors and developing life forms out of your food supply. If you can get containers that were designed to transport nuclear waste materials, you have a shot. Keep several of these in your desk, and be prepared to maximize the storage capacities. The scary “radioactive” labeling also protects your hoard from would-be thieves.

Segregate your moist foodstuffs from your breads, rices, and pastas. If these get too much sauce in the storage phase, they can quickly become mushy, inedible messes. Same goes for salads – only save those that had the good sense to be served with the croutons on the side. Leftover salads can be stored for a longer period of time if the lettuce is kept away from dressing and condensation from the storage vessel. Urban scavenging is not for amateurs.

Like our prehistoric ancestors parceling out a mammoth, you quickly learn how to preserve your haul. I’ve learned how to turn luncheon meats into jerky. I’ve made pickles from leftover cucumbers and extra lemon juice packets that came with the pitchers of ice tea from a beverage service. I made ice cream once from the leftover milk, cream and sugar from a breakfast service where only half the people showed up. I had to use some ice from the ice machine and a big empty coffee can, but, it sure was a tasty treat for lunch.

The bad news is that the time I spend canning and preserving the leftovers from the office, I’m not getting much actual work done. I spent eight hours one Friday turning leftover tomato wedges into 6 gallons of tomato sauce, complete with the leftovers from a veggie tray that included olives stuffed with garlic (that was the score of a lifetime, that.) Whole cloves of garlic?! I now have a sense of how the good Lord served that huge crowd with a few loaves and fishes. He’d clearly been working the corporate leftovers for a few centuries.

Are you looking for a unique experience for your whole family? How about an Adventure kit?

If you’d like to get Flying Solo, (and just Flying Solo) on Sundays via e-mail,  you can Subscribe to Flying Solo