No one likes to waste food. And yet we shamefully throw away tons of moldy leftovers every week on trash day. It doesn't have to be this way, though. Here are some easy doable ways to reduce the amount of food we waste.
It All Begins with Shopping
If you shop smart, then you will have less waste. So let's start with your shopping habits.
* Plan your meals - Planning what you'll eat for the week and making a shopping list with only what you actually need, nothing more nothing less, will help you waste less. Skip the impulse buys and just buy what you absolutely positively need.
* Don't buy in bulk - We know it seems like you save more and hey, with all of those extreme couponing shows out there it sure seems like you can pay next to nothing for a lot. But, what good does it do you if those 20 boxes of cereal expire before you get to eat it? You just end up throwing it away.
* Check the discount produce bin - Those bruised bananas and funny-shaped apples are often sold at a lower cost. There's nothing wrong with this stuff, but remember: don't overbuy, just get what you're going to use. It might have a shorter shelf life, too, so make sure it's something you plan on eating immediately.
Once You Get the Groceries Home
Now that you shopped smart, here's where the real work comes in - at home.
* Rotate food - Have you ever worked at a grocery store or at least seen people out there straightening the shelves? Well, you may or may not know that they are checking the dates and rotating. The new stuff goes at the back and old stuff stays up front so that it gets sold/used faster. If you do this with your own groceries, then you will grab the open box of pasta instead of the new one when you're cooking.
* Monitor - Watch what's not getting eaten in time and figure out a way to make it last longer. Did you make a large pot of sauce and not finish it all? Well, next time either make less, or instantly freeze what you don't use. Make adjustments to what you buy or how you cook and how you store things based on the patterns you see occurring.
* Know what you have and when it goes bad - If you have three jars of sauce, then you know you won't be needing any more for some time. But if those three jars of sauce are about to expire, then you know you need to make sure to plan your meals around that and use them up right away so they don't go to waste.
* Leftovers - Once a week eat up the leftovers. Better still, when you're planning your menu, plan meals so you can use the leftovers in a new way. So if you have a roast chicken one night, the next night shred up that chicken and make chicken fajitas with the leftover meat. It will make for a quick meal because the chicken is already cooked and you won't end up throwing away those leftovers.
* Use it all - Instead of peeling the skin off of the potatoes, leave it on, cook them in the skin and eat the skin too. Don't cut off the flowers of broccoli either. Eat the whole thing.
* Is your fridge working right? Put a thermometer in your fridge to make sure it's keeping the right temperature. If not, have it serviced or consider buying a new one if you can afford to.
* Find a new use for that soft produce - Just because that apple isn't as crisp as you'd like doesn't mean you can't still use it. Make applesauce or use it in a smoothie or apple bread. Fruits and vegetables which have passed their peak can be juiced.
* Store it - If you store things properly in the fridge and freezer, they will last longer. Make sure freezer bags are sealed with as much air taken out of them as possible. In the fridge, having a tight lid on the food will keep it fresh longer.
Time To Eat
Now that you've done your shopping, have stored your food properly, and prepared your food based on what you have using as much of it as possible, it's time to eat. Here's how to be a part of the clean plate club:
* Have smaller portions - Don't fill your plate. Start small; if you want more you can always go back for seconds. But start off with a reasonably small portion of food so you don't feel that you have to force yourself to clean your plate.
* Did you try a new recipe that you didn't like much? You know it's not going to get eaten, so why not share it? Bring it to your elderly next-door neighbor or a friend. No point letting it sit in your fridge going to waste; someone will eat it.
* When eating out, split a dish. Sometimes the portions at a restaurant are more than we can eat, but if you share your meal, then nothing goes to waste.
* Get your doggy bag. If you don't share a meal at a restaurant, then be sure to take your leftovers home. Toss in that bread from the table too. It won't get reserved so it's yours for the taking. Don't leave it behind.
If you do these simple things, starting with shopping right, to then preparing and storing food, and finally eating the right portions, then you will notice much less food waste and much more savings in your pocket. Are you ready to reduce your food waste?