Maven Moment: Rainy Day Cake

baking ingredients on a wooden table

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The reason food waste happens at home is that we fail to find ways to use the food we have on hand. Looking back on my childhood, I see waste increasing now when we need to make the most of every bit of food produced. Although many of us live in times of plenty, others are starving. Our wasteful habits are harmful to other people and the planet, but we can learn from the past.

I remember my grandma Jennie, who lived through the Depression, had four sets of storage canisters in her kitchen. They contained flour, sugar, coffee, and tea. On a rainy day when no one wanted to go out, she would make Rainy Day Cake using the flour, sugar, and whatever she happened to have in the house for flavorings.

Each time it was a little different; she might add raisins, citron, nuts, cinnamon, or any combination of ingredients. She even made a simple icing out of coffee and sugar!

I think that giving yourself the challenge of using whatever you have in the house to make a cake — or a meal — could be a great way to prevent food waste. Keeping certain staples in the cupboard, such as pasta, beans, and plain cake mix, gives you everything you’ll need to make your own rainy day dish from whatever is in your kitchen.

Pasta, for example, lends itself to any number of toppings. You could add fried breadcrumbs, a few chopped broccoli florets, a can of beans, or chopped potato (one of my favorites growing up). To plain cake mix, you could add raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or even lemon zest to jazz it up. Just use your imagination!

Stay at home when it is cold and rainy and avoid ordering in by making your own rainy day dish. It is good for you, easy to enjoy, and good for the planet!

About the Author

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.


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