Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Food Waste: How to Avoid It
I have had little daydreams of tabulating all that my family spends on food, just to know what our monthly food spend is. Has that happened yet? Heck no! But, I think about it. A lot.
One way to help save on food spend is to not waste food. Seems simple enough, right?
Here are a few ways to help cut back on the dreaded Food Waste:
1. Portion out the evening meal's leftovers into individual containers for the next day's lunch. (Instead of storing those leftovers in a single, large container, take a few extra moments to get those bad boys lined up for lunch!)
2. Meal Planning. Oh, again, how I wish... Everyone I know who has started to plan out their week's (or month's!) meals swears by it. Fewer trips to the grocery store and avoiding the dreaded, "What am I going to make for dinner?" are just a few of the reasons to plan out your family's meals. Oh, and a little something called saving money. By planning out your family's meals, and taking into account how much will be eaten for dinner, or saved as leftovers for the following day's lunch, taking advantage of sales on meat, fruits, and vegetables, etc., you not only save time in the long run, but also money and FOOD.
3. Trying a new recipe? Make a half-batch. If you are trying a new recipe, and you're not sure how it turn out, then make only half. That way, if it's a dud, there will be less waste. Is it a main dish? Serve it as a side dish. Who cares?? Your family will appreciate that there isn't a ton of a new recipe to eat if it isn't their favorite. And, if they like it? They'll be clamoring for more, and you'll have a sure-fire winner to add to your dinner repertoire! *NOTE: Make sure to note your recipe so you don't accidentally use the original amount when you meant to use half.
4. Designate a "Spot of Honor" in your refrigerator for leftovers. Sounds silly, but how many times have you full well intended on eating (and enjoying!) leftovers of your one of your favorites, only to find it three weeks later looking like a science experiment? So disappointing. Why does that happen? It happens because our little leftover containers get shoved to the back of the refrigerator.
5. Use Only See-Through Containers. Think "Out of sight, out of mind." It's true. What we don't see, we quickly forget. Me? I'm a stickler for glass only food storage. I switched over to all glass storage containers a few years back, and I've been very happy with that decision. I'm fine with a plastic lid, as long as that lid doesn't come within five feet of the microwave. I don't care if the container's instructions say it's microwave safe. No way. No how. Not ever.
6. Made Too Much? Freeze It! If you know that the food is safe and will still taste great after a stint in the freezer, package it properly and store it away. I like to freeze in individual containers so I can pop out that serving, thaw, and give to my busy middle-schooler for a quick after-school snack.
7. Food Waste: What is it Costing Your Family? OK, we've discussed how to avoid it, but what is Food Waste costing your family? The cost is not measured in dollars and cents alone. Have you someone you love experienced food poisoning? It's just terrible! Sometimes, in the rush of life, a family member won't notice that one section of that leftover casserole has something fuzzy growing on it. A food's smell and spices can mask the beginnings of when the food starts to turn bad. We are all so busy, wouldn't it be awful if you or a member of your family has to sit out from activities, school, or work because of some food that has, so to speak, gone south?
So, this all brings me to my recent discover of Kristen's "The Frugal Girl - cheerfully living on less" blog. Kristen, realizing that she and her family were wasting food, a lot of food, started documenting that waste on Food Waste Friday.
The Frugal Girl figured that if she posted her food waste for others to see, perhaps she'd be better about not wasting food in the first place. Not everyone is willing to shame herself via social media into behavior modification, but I'm game. I plan on following up with a photo or two of my own family's food waste. Thanks, Kristin, for the inspiration! Everyone, please make sure to visit The Frugal Girl for more of her tips. I know I will!