Stop Wasting Food! Reorganize Your Personal Food Economy.
Food Waste Poster
American's throw out over 33-40% off food!
I despise throwing away food. Always have. I've found myself over the past few years frequently shaking my head, as I sail into the back of my refrigerator, finding long lost treasures of delicious morsels on the brink of stink. A feeling of dread washing over me as I realize how careless I had been with two things that I don't have a lot of...my money and my time, I started making some food buying adjustments for better health a over a year ago, using more fresh produce, trying to buy local, started a garden, etc. When I heard the report on Radio Times regarding food waste and recycling, my head started shaking all over again. This time about my own contribution to American and global food waste statistics. Cleaning out my own fridge was nothing compared to my disgust at hearing that 40% of our food is thrown away in this country...up to $160 billion a year! When I began to listen to the experts discuss the issues, the reality of expiration date use, food scrap composting and more, I had no choice but to look at the management of my own little food economy. What I got from this exercise is a fatter wallet, a creative outlet, more control over what my family is eating.
UNEP - Breakthrough! (A Humorous Look at Our Food Waste)
10 Tips to Maximize Your Food Dollars and Reduce Food Waste
- Put a few erasable marker boards on your fridge for food management and have masking tape and a sharpie on hand for labeling food.
Use on board to record what you need to use up that week and another that is just what is already cooked and prepared. Use masking tape to label food with the name and date.
- Clean out and inventory your fridge and freezer. Don your headlamp and begin spelunking your fridge. Reorganize and clean. Make hard choices now, if you can't salvage items in there, get rid of them. This should be a one time toss away, because you need the space in your fridge to get organized. Take a physical inventory of what is and update your erasable inventory board based on the criteria discussed above.
- Go shopping at the farm market first, then the supermarket. I always go to the farm market before I go to the supermarket. At both locations, I look for manager's special selection. These are usually items that are nearing their saleability life at the store, but will be fine to freeze or prepare within the week. Of course, use coupons when you can. Talk to your store manager to find out where the markdown sections are in the store. Bakery, produce, meat usually have their own sections, and there is usually an area for discounted non-perishable items as well. Read this article by store managers on how to take advantage of sales, mark-downs and more.
- When you come home from shopping, update your inventory list and make a plan for your week. I write down ingredients that I need to use up and dishes I want to make with them. This gets fun, because I have been picking up new items that I have never used before in the manager's special sections and look up recipes on the internet for them.
- Learn how to flash freeze produce. Flash freezing produce is very simple. You basically cut up your fruits or vegetables and put them on a baking sheet with wax paper. This is a great way to prepare for making smoothies. Check out this article on flash freezing produce.
- Choose a day to cook. I usually take one whole day, or a couple of half days to cook and store food. It's fun, because I'm making videos as well, I work on play-listing, or write articles like these. I try and throw in one item that my son can help me with if he's not at school too, like making brownies, or cookies. Make sure to update your inventory boards.
- Refer to your inventory. Make sure you keep and eye on your inventory on a daily basis. Knowing what is in your fridge is key to proper food management.
- Learn how to make soup, your own stocks, and smoothies. In our house, nothing says I love you like soup and smoothies. I take advantage of these two types of food to get all kinds of nutrition into my family. I also have a juicer for myself. We try and put at least one thing that we know is good for us in our bodies per day, and it is typically via one of these three methods. How to make your own stocks.
- Change your relationship to leftovers. After throwing out numerous leftovers that like to hide in the back of the fridge, either because no one knows they are there, or because no one liked it to begin with, I finally decided that a leftover has three options in my house. a) I automatically put them in individual containers as a FULL MEAL and freeze them for a quick, "I don't feel like cooking tonight" scenario. b) I figure out a way to use it in some other way. For example, no one like the chicken breast dish that had cumin in it, I cut it up and added it to a chicken chili (be careful to add already cooked meats, LAST to your recipes so it doesn't dry out.) c) If it can't do either a or b, I throw it out. This happens very rarely, but remember, your refrigerator is prime real estate for good food management.
- Start a garden and composter. If you can grow your own food, you will save money, help the environment, and get a little exercise. The great thing about having a garden, even a small one, is that you can also use some food scraps for composting. I highly recommend the Square Foot Gardening technique for anyone, even for apartment living! You only need 12"x12" to get started and you can build from there.
Learn More About Food Waste - Links to Make You Think!
- Tristram Stuart: The global food waste scandal | Video on TED.com
Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible -- but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.
- Food waste and recycling by WHYY Public Media on SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds