Wasting food is something we are all guilty of, although some people are definitely better at it than others I find that I tend to go through periods where I become acutely aware of how much we are wasting and start to make a concerted effort to try and minimise waste. I’m going through one of those stages right now, partly because the pantry has reached stuffing point (see how it is filled right to the edge – and it’s a deep pantry) which indicates I have far too much food in the house.
Initially, for ‘visual impact’ I was going to take a photo of food scraps I’d kept for the week, but to be honest, after the first night I was too emabarassed. Man, do we throw out a lot of food!
So, it’s time to get ‘frugal’ and start managing this situation better. Here’s a list of the ways I plan to tackle my food waste and bring things back to an acceptable level.
- Start a pantry reduction plan. I’m going to make a list of what is in the pantry – particularly all those things lurking in the back and start to use them up rather than buy more things to go in. The reality is I can’t get to the back because of all the ‘just in cases’ I’ve bought and put at the front. Time to clean it out and hopefully minimise what has to be thrown out.
- Be more vigilant in using fruit and vegetables that are past their peak. Far too many soft apples, wilted celery and limp carrots have made their way into the bin (or should that be compost bin). These can be easily turned into something edible – think stewed fruit, fruit pies, preserves, soups, stock, purees. One great solution is to boil up all the bits and pieces of vegetables lying in the bottom of the fridge with a few herbs and seasoning – vegetable stock ready to go!
- Make better use of leftovers. Sometimes with the best intentions these get refrigerated for ‘later’. Sadly, more often than not they turn up ‘much later’ when cleaning out the fridge and are smelly, mouldy and a throw out. If there is extra food from a meal, I’ll plan to use this either at lunch or dinner time in the next few days. If it’s likely it won’t get used then I’ll freeze it for another day if possible. Even if it’s just a cup of cooked rice or pasta – these can form the basis for a lunch salad or be stirred through some cooked vegetables the next night. If there is a collection over a few days I’ll plan a ‘Leftovers Night’ where all the leftovers are served buffet style and everyone can pick and choose what they want to eat (the kids love these dinners).
- Menu planning. This is already a staple in my life, but it could be better. Don’t just think dinners – include breakfasts (especially weekends), lunches and any extras to be made during the week such as baking, dips, preserves etc. This will greatly help to minimise the impulse purchases at the supermarket that end up being the ‘back of the pantry’ items in a matter of weeks. Usually, these items get forgotten simply because they haven’t been planned for. If an impulse or unplanned item (e.g. a super special or bargain buy) makes it into the trolley, I’ll include it in the menu plan or leave the ingredient/item on the bench so I don’t forget to use it.
- Be a ‘wiser’ supermarket shopper. This is where I can really come unstuck because no matter how much I plan, write a list etc, once at the supermarket it is easy to fall for all the ‘deals’. For example, a killer marketing ploy that is very prevalent in our supermarkets is the “Buy 1 get one free” or worse “Buy 3 pay for 2”. In the past I’ve been suckered into the “well it’s so cheap what does it matter” mentality – and that’s what this type of marketing is all about! If I’m confident I’ll use the product, in the trolley it goes. Otherwise, I’ll look for a single item that may well cost less than the ‘deal’ and be better off because I won’t be throwing the money out later on.
- Use the freezer more. Not just for leftovers but for lots of other products as well. It helps to lengthen shelf life and reduce what gets thrown out. Often there are items that could have easily been frozen (bread, vegetables, herbs, stock) but they ended up in the bin instead simply because of poor planning or organization.
So there you have it, some ideas that I’ll be using to start minimising my food waste and hopefully save some dollars. If you are feeling a bit the same way, then hopefully these ideas will help you too.
If you have any of your own to add to the list, please put them below. I’d love to hear them. Finally, don’t forget to share with your friends by clicking the buttons below.