I regularly see this billboard and it always makes me think. Imagine – $1,500 a year is a lot of money to just throw away. (www.adcouncil.org)
A related statistic from the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations website (www.fao.org), 1/3 of all the food produced in the world goes to waste. One third.
I try to not waste food, yet every week when I clean out the fridge, I toss a few things, too. Overripe cucumbers, mystery meat, dried out or moldy bread – all foods I should have used instead of wasted!
So, let’s bust these statistics. We can all benefit from a plan to use our food better! We can:
- Save money by using our inventory before it expires;
- Clear kitchen clutter by only keeping on hand what we really need;
- Eat better and healthier by planning our menus with a little more care; and
- Be more responsible stewards of our resources!
When I got home from the grocery the other day, I cleaned 3 pounds of grapes (they were on sale) and left them in a bowl. We made dinner, consisting of baked sweet potatoes, a veggie, and warmed-up pork roast from last week. While the potatoes baked, I turned a double batch of banana bread batter into 85 banana chocolate-chip mini muffins (I’d take a picture, but 48 hours later, there are only 6 left).
- We will never eat grapes off the stems, but everyone will grab a handful if they’re clean and ready to eat.
- We are unlikely to warm up pork roast just because, but pairing it with fan favorites like baked potatoes makes a lovely Sunday dinner.
- No one in the house (including me) will eat brown bananas, but we’ll eat mini-muffins like crazy.
The secret is (well, it’s not really a secret) to Plan, Plan, Plan.
Looking to use up what you have?
Look first to use your fresh food, then fridge, then freezer then canned.
Clean and prep your fruit as soon as you get home from the grocery store.
Apples, clementines, lemon and limes – I wash all in the sink immediately, and then store it on the counter to grab and go.
If we buy melons or strawberries or grapes, we clean and prep those, too. Making good food convenient ensures we will use it up before it goes bad. And when the strawberries start to get mushy, they go into the freezer, to toss in smoothies another day.
Know yourself and your habits.
I wish I could say that I take lots of time to cook nutritious meals daily for my family. But I don’t. If I buy fresh veggies, I try to clean that when we get home from the grocery, though this takes a little more time.
Fresh produce is one are of my grocery list where I use convenience food. Pre-cut carrots and celery are much more likely to be used than produce still in a bag. And yes, I buy bag salad. A head of lettuce will go to waste, but we will use bagged salad and spinach.
If you’re going to dice one pepper, dice two. If you’re going to shred a cup of cheese, shred two. Prepping twice as much of something, and then using it later takes little additional time and saves scads of time later.
Meat. We freeze everything. When we buy ground beef or sausage, we brown most of it and then refreeze it in one pound bags, to use, tacos, chili or sauces. We also purchase Costco rotisserie chickens and eat some for dinner, then save the rest for casseroles and keep the carcass to make chicken soup another day.
Look in your pantry and fridge with new eyes, and Get Over Your Leftovers.
Who says you can’t have dinner for breakfast, or breakfast for dinner? Eat dinner for dinner, then expect and plan to use leftovers for breakfast and lunch. Use what you have before it expires. Use it before you go out and purchase more. Re-purpose what you have. Make your own breadcrumbs and croutons from bread and buns, dice your fruit for smoothies and baking.
Use what you have! Save money, save time and clear clutter!
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