Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lessons from a Pudding Quest

When we had a planning session for this quarter's Student Appreciation week, we knew that students didn't want to have a salad bar.  We did that for Winter quarter, and because we had so many non-perishable salad items left, we did it for Spring too.  We thought about hot dogs for our summer Student Appreciation week, but I knew the smell would be oppressive (to me, at least).  I suggested ice cream, with toppings.  But that could be messy, what with all the melting ice cream.

I said, "How about pudding?  We could have similar toppings, but the pudding wouldn't melt the way ice cream will."  And thus, we agreed to pudding.  I had a vision of big tubs of ready-made pudding in the refrigerator section.

On Monday, I went out to get the pudding.  I thought it would be easy.  I went to the GFS, the store that wants us to think it's a Costco or Sam's, but without those membership fees.  They had pudding in a can.  I haven't thought about pudding in a large can since my days as a counselor at Girl Scout camp.  I can't remember what we did with the pudding, but I remember that our can opener didn't work, and so we used a rock and our penknives to open the can--punch, punch, punch, all the way round.

I went to Wal-Mart--no pudding in big vats in the refrigerated section, and no instant pudding either in the powdered section.  I started to worry.

Finally, in the Publix, I made a decision, after briefly considering switching to yogurt.  I went to the powdered pudding section, and there were pudding cups.  I compared the price to the small vats of ready-made pudding and how much it would cost to make pudding.  The pudding cups were cheaper.  And so, I switched my plan.

The pudding cups had advantages I didn't think of.  I was interested in big tubs because I thought it would be cheaper than other options--likewise, creating our own instant pudding.  But in addition to being cheaper, the pudding cups were more convenient--we didn't have to spend part of our morning making the pudding--and more important, we didn't have to dish out pudding.  We still used some paper bowls because we had thawed fruit and whipped cream that we'd kept in the freezer from a past student appreciation event that featured waffles.  But we didn't have to portion out pudding, so our prep time was much speedier.

So, in terms of waste, we probably generated more trash with this event.  But I took the cardboard packaging home to recycle, so I'm hoping we're about even.  And we used up some of the frozen stuff which was probably reaching its end date.  Just add it all to my tally--I need to spend my retirement planting trees to make up my debt to the planet!

As usual, I overbought, because I didn't want to run out.  We still have enough pudding for another event.  And because I bought cups, the pudding will keep.  If I bought vats of pudding, or if we made pudding, we'd have a lot of pudding to consume right now.

I'm glad I was able to change gears and go with an approach that worked better than the one I was convinced that we needed.  I'm glad that I had to consider other options when I couldn't find huge vats of pudding.  I'm glad that students seemed delighted to have pudding, even though they didn't eat as much as I thought they would.  I'm glad that my initial frustration at not finding pudding ended in a plan that worked.

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