YIKES: An estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study, ends ups as waste. This includes food purchased at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias, and food stored in your kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.
Wasted food equals wasted money. The old proverb, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” is equally true for food consumption. Eating all the food you purchase is saving grocery dollars. Wasting less means saving more. It requires small shifts in the way you plan your meals and store your food.
Use All Your Food
Your job is to keep track of the food that you have on hand and make sure that it gets eaten or preserved before it goes bad and needs to be thrown out. All it takes is a little planning, some organization and the willingness to be creative.
Zach knows that consuming all the food purchased is like a savings account.
First, buying the proper amount of food and eating food before it spoils will save you money and reduce energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.
I hate having to throw out spoiled food. I do everything I can to avoid it. Yet, I have a bunch of beets that I will throw out in this week’s garbage. I purchased them a couple of weeks ago. A new grandbaby was born and I was away from home a lot. Now the beets are way past prime. It’s time to toss them. (Although the nutrition is less than ideal, I make my own dog food, so I could cook them up for the dogs.)
When you plan your meals in advance, you will buy only what you will consume. I regularly shop at Costco. Most items are packaged in large amounts. Costco sells sliced turkey that makes for a great sandwich, but it must be consumed a few days after opening. I automatically freeze what we will not eat in three days. If one roisterer chicken is more than your family can eat at one meal, chop up the remaining chicken for a casserole or salad. If you can’t eat it the next day, freeze it for later.
Store Food for Longer Life…Especially Produce
Keep a well-stocked pantry with often-used items. Every week, go through your fridge, cabinets and storage to see what’s getting close to its pull date or is starting to spoil. Make it into a meal, preserve it or freeze it. A well-stocked pantry will make it possible to toss together left-over ingredients with other items for a new meal. Click Here to find out how you can make your produce last longer.
To avoid throwing out leftovers, I make a special effort to freeze food that has been in the frig for a couple of days. If we don’t eat it right away, I freeze it. Leftovers can be pulled out of the freezer for a quick lunch or even a hardy snack.
Find recipes for tasty leftover meals. My husband loves casseroles. Casseroles are great ways to re-invent leftovers and produce needing to be consumed. Toss noodles or rice with leftover meat and leftover veggies and presto a yummy casserole. There are lots of recipes for casseroles on this site and in my book, Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater.
Portions are usually too large when you eat out. Ask the waitperson, how large their portions are. Many times, I’ll split a meal with whomever I’m with, my husband, friend, or sister.
If you bring a container home with your leftovers, eat them the next day. Or they will end up in the trash. If you don’t eat them yourself, give them to your dog. (Restaurant leftovers are called “doggie bags” for a reason, so give them to your doggie. But, don’t give your dog fried food.)