We haven’t bought paper plates in a long time, months and months. And since I’ve volunteered to be the dishwasher—not only to break up the monotony of my day but also to be a good retired husband—I have developed a few new eating habits.
If for breakfastlunch (I call it that because “brunch” is a midmorning designation, while I eat my first meal around noon) I decide to have scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage, I eat it out of the frying pan. Why dirty a plate? And I use a toothpick as a fork. (I tried using the spatula as a utensil, but no, it’s too wide.) Also, two toothpicks work fine for cutting fried eggs, and as always a slice or two of toast will quickly clean the pan of runny yolk.
When I’m by myself in the evening and decide on soup, I eat it out of the pot I heat it in. Why dirty a bowl? Naturally I have to use a spoon, usually our gravy ladle; the angled head and curved handle work best for a deep container. Relatedly, a few chunks of torn French bread will sop up the gravy-like broth if I have stew, after I eat the chunks of meat, potato, onion, carrot, and celery with a toothpick.
Note that a toothpick does not work well with spaghetti. Meatballs, yes.
The main change I’ve made is to stop using plates as much as possible. I’ll put a frozen burrito on wax paper on a paper towel in the microwave, and eat it from that when it’s done. Same for other such things. Mainly I use wax paper for my most common meal, the sandwich. Various meats, certain veggies, and condiments by knife and squeeze bottle, as well as dashings of ground herbs and spices adorn my many versions of that simple dish.
Not wanting to explore the grocery aisles of Exwork to take notes or photos, I looked up the products online, paper and wax. Turns out there’s not a big difference in price. Clearly the makers of such things have encountered or predicted consumer efforts to save money and time in this very way:
Paper dinner plates are 6.3 cents each, while a twelve-inch square sheet of wax paper is 4.6 cents. Plastic forks are 9.4 cents, and toothpicks are 7.6 cents each. Sure, 1.7 to 1.8 cents can add up, but if I do that once every day it’s only a savings of 51 cents per plate and 54 cents per fork per month. That’s an average of 6 dollars and 30 cents a year. There might be more savings from eliminating washing, by hand and machine, but I’m no longer interested enough to conduct such experiments. I guess I could use a half-sheet of paper towel for my cold-cut sandwich, but the grease from the corn chips might soak through.
So I’m still going to use wax paper for the convenience of not having dirty dishes. Like our ancestors thousands of years ago, and when I was a little kid, I just want to eat and walk away.