Sooo, long story short, we’re basically paying an absurd amount of money to be ungrateful wastrels. Fun times! Ick.
Obviously I live with Mr. Food Policy Nerd which means that I get lectures about food, food waste, and poverty likeeeee 59 minutes an hour. Kidding. It’s like 58. Anyway, we’ve got a few foolproof methods for keeping our food waste to the bare minimum, which keeps George happy and has the added bonus of saving us lotsa time and lotsa money … And who knows, if we all do our part we might just help drive down overproduction, which could ultimately result in less expensive food for more people. Read on for our tips , and share your own in the comments!
(See what I did there? Started out with a bummer and then whapped you on the head with some optimism and a plan of action? Hooray!)
Plan Like Crazy: Every Friday, we sit down and plan out our menu for the week ahead. This helps Super Shopper George go to the store armed with a list (and his trusty coupons, of course) that helps him buy exactly what we need; no more, no less. Planning ultimately saves you time, money, and prevents wasted food. What’s not to love? (Except, of course, for G’s gloating about his shopping prowess. It's intolerable.)
Shop Smarter: We’re obviously a small household: Two + A Duke. Lotsa recipes out there serve way more, so we're often hacking recipes in half or thirds or what have you. So when our dinner calls for, say, sour cream (ie: something you can’t buy piecemeal), we try to look for a second recipe for the week that also might call for sour cream, so that we’re sure to use everything in the container before it goes bad. This usually results in a week full of tacos and pierogis, which is obviously awesome to the max.
Organize: You know I love an excuse to organize (controoooool issues,right here), and every week I set my sights on our fridge. We’ve gotten pretty good at not having anything to toss at the end of the week, but I still like to clean off the shelves, take stock of what we’ve got, and make sure that we haven’t forgotten about anything that’s in there. I also pull everything to the front so that when George brings the new groceries we can set them behind the old, so that items that will expire faster always get used first.
Take Time to Clean: You know how when you buy that delicious carton of strawberries that you can’t wait to take to work as a snack the next day…and then you either forget or don’t have time to wash them up when you’re rushing out the door in the morning? Annoooying. And wasteful. Why not clean, cut, and divide your fruit (or anything else that kinda falls into this category—like leftovers you’ll be taking for lunches throughout the week) as soon as you bring it home, so there’s never an excuse to leave it behind or shove it to the back of the fridge? Duh.
Freeze and Freeze and Freeze: This is like a no brainer, but we have so much going on in our freezer: spaghetti sauce, bread, cheese, even cookies and cake. There are an insane amount of tips and tricks out there on the ewebs for saving just about anything. Fresh herbs for instance = ice cube trays to the rescue! For realz. Or if you don’t end up getting to all of that tasty fruit you cut up, pop it in the freezer and use it for a smoothie when you’re ready! I could go on, but if you’re left holding an item you don’t know what to do with, give it the old Google whirl and see if there’s a trick out there for properly freezing it. Nine times out of ten, there will be.
Feast on your Freezings: I’ve covered this before, but if you feel your cupboards and freezer getting overwhelmed with leftovers or items that are set to expire, make a meal or two that week that focuses on using up these odds and ends. Most of my Freezer Feasts end up being more hilarious than delicious, but they save me money and reduce the amount of food waste coming out of our household … SO LAUGH ALL YOU WANT.
Eat Out With Intention: Obviously my stringent budget controls means that we don’t eat out a whole heck of a lot. Maybe once a month, twice if we’re lucky. To stretch your cash and avoid wasting, consider an appetizer and a shared entrée as opposed to a table full of food that you don’t need and that probably won’t hold up that well in your fridge anyway. Or if you’re at a restaurant that serves monstrous portions that you know won’t work as leftovers, simply ask them to put less on your plate. While it doesn’t save you money, it does mean mean a little less food will get tossed at the restaurant … Plus, I always get a look like I’m crazy when I ask. Bonus!
Share It: Maybe your neighbor can use some of those potatoes that are about to go off. Perhaps your coworker would love the extra sleeve of Nutter Butters you need to avoid. And chances are good that your local food pantry could use some of those canned goods that are gathering dust. Before you toss it, ask around!
What tips and tricks for not wasting food do you keep at the ready? Tell me! I'm all ears!