I am wasteful as hell

Let’s start with the fact that I don’t keep leftovers. No matter how much is left of a meal, out it goes. No such thing in my book as wrap it and put it in the freezer, and I’m not putting it into a tiny box in the fridge either.

I believe I have OCD, though this isn’t a formal diagnosis. I just think so.

I don’t mean the OCD people talk about when they arrange things on the table. I mean the get-up-from-bed-10-times-to-check-the-door type. The spray-half-a-bottle-of-deodorant-everyday and worry-about-everything-all-the-time type. And it follows that I buy copious amounts of tissues, kitchen towels, toilet paper rolls, wet wipes, Dettol spray, Dettol wipes, this, that, you name it. I am not insane and you won’t walk into my apartment to find a wall of tissues on your way, but I have a box of tissues and a little disinfectant in every room in the house, and I use a LOT of it.

So I was just in the kitchen having a breadstick and there was a tiny bread crumb on my finger, so I open the faucet to wash it off. And for this one wet fingertip (not that kinda fingertip), I picked up the mega kitchen towel roll and pulled three full sheets to wipe the few drops of water. When I was tossing that into the trash, I thought: why did I just do that?

So yes. I am wasteful as hell.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the ride.

I’m the opposite. I hate waste, especially with food. And it’s causing me portion control problems. I’d rather finish food when I’m already full than save it, and I definitely won’t throw it out.

We both need to meet in the middle.

I’m not here to moralize, but you may find yourself changing some of your ways if you ever encounter a real shortage of anything you’ve mentioned: food, disinfectants, paper products. You’ll be self-motivated to make that roll of paper towels last a little longer.

Some decades back, we were visiting friends, and over the course of maybe an hour, I watched L routinely use 3 or 4 paper towels to dry her hands every few minutes. I suddenly understood why her husband was always complaining about how much money she was spending all the time! It just boggled my mind that she didn’t use a dish towel or hand towel.

My sister’s kids (probably due to my sister) waste tons of food. They see the Sell By date as Throw-In-The-Trash date. They refuse to accept that milk kept in the fridge is still going to be good a week after its sell-by date. Their heads would explode if they saw me doing the sniff test - if it smells OK, it’s probably OK, right?

Just to address the ‘elephant in the room’ part of your post, OCD runs hard in my family. Both my father and son have been clinically diagnosed with it (and both have the many paper towels and sanitizer tendencies). Other family members on my dad’s side were never diagnosed but very likely have/had it (my paternal Grandmother was a hoarder; I have hoarding tendencies as well, not so much germophobia).

It sounds like your compulsive tendencies and your anxiety are at the point where they’re interfering with your quality of life. If so, it may be beneficial to seek out therapy. Assuming you may have OCD, it is pretty manageable with medication, or if you prefer not to go that route, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) works too, provided you put the work in.

CBT is just a way to train your brain to stop the vicious cycle of negative, anxiety-causing thoughts. I believe I have latent OCD, and used to get pretty bad panic attacks when I was younger. Without yet knowing that OCD ran in my family, I sort of used my own version of CBT to help myself. One mental exercise that worked well for me was asking myself “what’s the worst that can happen?”

For example, on a family trip to Florida when my kids were younger, we were at the gate when I thought “did I close my car window after I opened it to get the ticket at the long-term parking gate?” In the past I would have had two options: go back in a shuttle or taxi to check, hoping I didn’t miss the flight, or have my vacation ruined obsessively worrying about it. So I asked myself “what’s the worst that can happen? My car could more easily be robbed, vandalized or stolen. But cars can be robbed or stolen when fully locked and sealed up as well. And that’s what insurance is for”. I was able to break the cycle of the obsessive thought and enjoy my vacation without thinking about it again. And yes, it turned out I had rolled my window back up.

Anyway, you deserve to not have to constantly live with anxiety and obtrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. So consider getting help for it.

ehhh, I don’t know about that. I think it depends more on how long it’s been opened. I don’t drink milk all that often so by the time it gets to the date printed on the carton, which is often over a week out from when I’ve bought & first opened it, it definitely smells off. A week after that and it would be puke inducing.

We buy fat-free - maybe that’s a factor, but our milk has been fine 2 weeks past the date. I always give it the sniff test, just to be sure.

I feel like a failure if I have to throw food out. Even though the chickens worship me for so doing. I am really meticulous about using every scrap of edible food.

I almost never use disposable paper products except toilet paper. My flannel sheets turn into rags and my rags turn into compost. I also don’t believe in sanitizing anything except wounds. Happy to eat with my unwashed hands after cleaning the barn.

I guess we exist in order to have two ends to a line.

We (mostly I) make a big pot of something or a casserole or whatever generally every weekend and then my Wife and I have it for dinner 4-5 nights in a row. So it’s left overs a LOT. This is more of a time saving measure than anything else. But we like doing it that way.

The lower the fat content, the shorter the shelf life. Nothing lasts longer than heavy cream. I keep my butter on the counter. And clarified butter doesn’t even require refrigeration.

Same here. Our chickens eat most kitchen scraps. I love, love, love leftovers! We often cook specifically so that we have leftovers. A huge pot of soup or chili can feed us lunches and dinners for a week.

My wife is a waste Nazi. I tend to toss things out, whereas she prefers to find an alternate use for them, or give things away, etc. Wasting food is a sin to her, yet we are often finding ourselves clearing science experiments out of the fridge. Sometimes I bury things in the trash just to get rid of them and not have to deal with them. I know she likes to be as green as possible, so I go along with it with the recycling of paper and composting of food/vegetation.

My husband is far more averse to waste than I am. He used to insist no one throw out their leftovers after dinner and would just consume them all, which had really bad consequences for his health. He started gaining weight really rapidly and was breathing hard walking up the stairs. Also, I’d be ticked because many times those leftovers were going to be my lunch!

It’s better now, but he has his moments. I like to think of myself as “realistically wasteful.” I don’t waste much food, we compost and recycle, but I’m not going to save food beyond when I think it’s good. For example, my husband was trying to eat ribs for dinner. The ribs had traveled with us for six hours in the car (my stepmother insisted we take some), then had been in the fridge for four days. In my mind, the six hours immediately eliminates them from my fridge, way moreso than the four days.

My husband didn’t want to waste them so insisted on eating them for dinner for three days following that four-day mark. I think he’s lucky he didn’t get sick (I tried to throw them away when we arrived home), but he thinks it was wasteful that we threw out any of the ribs at all. I just couldn’t stop thinking of the fact that my stepmother, prior to insisting we take said ribs, kept licking her fingers, then handling the ribs without washing her hands, then they traveled for six hours and then sat in our fridge for four days. Ick.

So I’m also the opposite, its one of my pet hates when someone throws out some left overs I’ve been looking forward just because they haven’t been put in the fridge straightaway.

Though actually I have the same problem with paper towels which makes me feel bad, as I would love to use a cloth but I know full well we’re not on top of it enough to not have have the cloths become be a festering soggy disaster, so paper towels it is (we also spill a lot of things so use a lot of them).

We refer to this as “investment cooking” :smiley: Nothing lasts a week - in fact when we make a huge pot of soup, it’s hard to get enough of it put aside to freeze for future needs because our brains go “Woohoo - I don’t need to cook for a few days!”. Not sure if the OP would consider this situation (deliberately cooking for multiple means) the same as regular “made a bit more than I needed” leftovers.

To the OP: it definitely sounds like your tendencies are impacting your life negatively. A bit of food thrown away isn’t that big a deal, but you might benefit from some help in learning to deal with the other issues you mention.

To join the crowd - I HATE throwing out food. I always figured it was because I was so damned cheap. Most people would say our fridge and cabinets look empty, but we buy and cook what we want to eat, and save an enjoy any leftovers. We eat the fresh food first, so nothing turns into a science project.

Our best friends are the exact opposite. Their fridge is always PACKED. They probably have 7-8 different mustards - any number of which might be rapidly declining at any moment. They habitually put more food on their plates than they will finish. I have gotten used to them, but couldn’t imagine being like that.

Hell, I always feel a little irresponsible simply for using plastic garbage bags instead of used grocery bags, and having a roll of paper towels around…

I get a little positive vibe when I roll my garbage can to the curb and notice how empty it is, compared to so many on the block that are overflowing.

We do the same thing. A big pot of soup, stew, or a hot dish (Minnesotan here!). My husband is happy to eat it all week. I’m not a big fan of leftovers, so after two meals of it, I resort to a frozen pizza, grilled cheese, fried egg, or cereal and toast. But like you say it sure saves time. I remember back in the day, coming home from work and cooking 5 nights a week. UGH! I don’t know how I did it. And that was back when we had 2 kids involved in sports! I don’t know how I even thought of 5 things to make every week.

Yeah I’m on the far end of that. I regularly purge my drawers and ensure nothing I’m not using is there. Before Covid (when I used to work at an office and hang out way more and therefore had more clothes), I was throwing something out every week. A shirt. A pair of pants. Always in a good condition, sometimes only worn once but isn’t really good. Instead of tailoring it, I just toss it or give it to someone. Which is horrible when I think of it. A horrible waste of money.

I just can’t relax without making sure things are ‘clean’ in some sense, and by clean I mean devoid of leftovers, things that somehow still ‘need to be done’ or taken care of.

I generally have very few material possessions.

I’ve just started with a therapist for my anxiety, and mainly because I have a flight to catch in two weeks, and I started worrying quite some time ahead. I am directly addressing this issue with him. I know I’m not normal and it is as you correctly point out interfering with my quality of life.

Off topic, but is this not determined by the temperature as well? Like, if it’s reasonably cool, transporting it for six hours should not be a problem. Or would it?