Reducing Food Waste…
I really hate throwing out food- I hate the money that I am wasting, I hate the toll food waste is taking on our environment and I hate throwing out a perfectly good meal. So, here are a few ways that I have come up with to reduce food waste in my own home- I hope that they will help you as well in 2016!
1. Meal Planning is key! Figure out what meals you are going to be eating each week. Sit down with your family and decide on some favorites that you are going to serve that week and plan accordingly. I usually leave one or two days open, one for a leftovers night (see suggestion #2) and one for going out. I don’t go out every week, but I know if I suddenly decide to I won’t feel guilty for not eating the meal I had planned. If I don’t go out, I scrounge and use up all those leftover ingredients- the leftover cilantro, half a package of cream cheese, half a lemon etc. Check out this site for help using up those spare or one off ingredients.
2. Use up those leftovers! Stir fries are a great way to combine leftovers and one of my favorite go to options, they often end up served over leftover pasta or whole grains. But, get creative- leftover veggies go well in soups (check out these ideas for leftover veggies), leftover pasta can be turned into a great casserole, stuffed peppers can be chopped up and cooked with beans, the possibilities are endless, so get creative! Need some inspiration? Check out this site to get that spark going.
3. Know what you have on hand. Before you go shopping look through your pantry, your cupboards and your fridge to know what you have and what you still need to get. If you already have a tub of sour cream, there is no reason to get another one.
4. Learn how to substitute with what you have! If you have some sour cream but probably not enough check out this site and this site to find out if you have anything else you could use in place of that sour cream. For example, plain yogurt, pureed cottage cheese or buttermilk all make good replacements for some or all of the sour cream a recipe calls for. Learn a few good substitutions to use what you DO have:
- Avocado works great in place of butter on toast, in cooking or baking, even in frosting!
- Mashed bananas make a good fat substitute in baking.
- Smashed crackers or chips can be used in place of breadcrumbs- also using up those pesky crumbs at the bottom of the bag that no one wants to eat or throw away.
5. Keep a roll of masking tape next to the fridge and date the leftovers so you know how long they have been in the fridge. Keep an eye on what foods have been in the fridge the longest and game plan to use those first to prevent them from going bad. Leftovers have a life of about 7 days in the fridge before you run the risk of food poisoning. Eat them within that time frame. Keep an eye on your produce as well to prevent it from getting tossed as well. If you see something starting to go, use it. Cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and carrots all go well in salads or tossed with whole wheat pasta. Zucchini, carrots, apples, and bananas can be used in quick breads, fresh berries can be used to top ice cream or added to pancakes. If you cannot use things and you see them starting to go, or you cannot stomach the idea of spaghetti ONE MORE NIGHT, toss it in the freezer. Here is a guide on freezing fresh fruits and veggies to get the most use out of them and make sure they are edible when you pull them out.
….And if all else fails, start a composting pile. All that good, organic matter in your food will break down and create a rich, viable soil- one that I fully intend to use to help keep my herbs alive! For more information on composting, check this out.