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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Waste Not

We've all done it: Thrown away bread that got moldy.  Found some kind of produce in the crisper that's turned into a puddle of green goo.  Discovered a container of leftovers from weeks ago in the back of the fridge.  Into the trash it goes!  What a waste!

And believe me, we're not the only ones.  The average home in the US wastes about 470 pounds of food each year.  About 27% of consumable food in this country is thrown away--at the expense of about $600 per year per family.  Crazy, huh?

Why is it so easy to waste food like that?  How many times do we buy more food than we need?  There's a sale, so we pick some up just to forget about it in a few days.  Many times, it's good intentions that result in the waste--we mean to make a nice dinner out of those veggies or that meat, but our busy lives get the best of us and it ends up going bad.

Yup, it's very easy to waste the food, but with just a little work, we can cut back, if not virtually eliminate, our food waste. 
  • Of course, my first suggestion would be to hire a personal chef (I hear Dinner's Done PCS is great!).  Seriously, when I cook for clients, I buy just what is needed for that service, so nothing goes to waste--it all just goes into their dishes.
  • Plan your meals ahead--before you go shopping.  Then just buy what you will need--and stick to it! 
  • Many times, veggies and fruits that are nearing their end can be used for different things.  Use overripe fruit in a smoothie; put some limp veggies in a soup.  If bananas start getting too soft, I put them in the freezer and use them at a later time for breads or muffins. 
  • Don't be afraid of leftovers.  Many things taste even better after a day or two.  Be creative--if you don't want to eat the same dish again, use it to create another dish. 
  • Rotate your food when you bring it home from the store.  In other words, put the new stuff behind or underneath the food that's already in there.  That way, you're more apt to use the older stuff first.
  • Learn the best way to store items in your fridge and freezer.  Wrapping/storing things the proper way will add lots of time to their lives.  And save you money!
  • And while we're talking about the fridge--CLEAN IT OUT once in a while!  I go through our fridge once a week.  Not only does this let me find those scary pieces of moldy whatever-they-are, but it gets me familiar with what's in there and helps me to use those things before they go bad. 
  • One expert I ready suggests to put the guilt trip on yourself by making a list of every food item that you throw out in a week.  Watch how long that list gets and you will feel guilty.  (One study says that 39% of Americans surveyed feel guilty about wasting food--as opposed to 7% that feel guilty about using chemical fertilizer on their yard.)
  • Learn to freeze, pickle, can--whatever it takes to keep from wasting all that food. 
Do you have any tips for slowing down your food waste?  Let me know!