Most families have an enormous amount of food waste.  Take a look at your neighbors garbage and the amount thrown away would make some people literally cry.  But, you can eliminate most if not all of your food waste by following these tips.

1. Plan Your Meals – Don’t go shopping without a plan. If you know what meals you want to cook based on the weekly grocery store flyers, what you have on hand, and what’s in season, you’ll waste less.

2. Freeze Leftovers – When you have leftovers, even small amounts, put them away in the freezer. Even small amounts of cooked veggies or instance, can be used later to make veggie soup.

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3. Cook the Right Serving Amounts – If you’re cooking for two, consider cutting the recipe in half to avoid waste. Alternatively, plan ahead to save leftovers as homemade TV dinners for eating later.

4. Buy the Weird Veggies – Check out your grocer to see when they sell the strange shaped or “ugly” produce. This not only costs less but by buying you help eliminate the grocery store’s waste.

5. Use the Old First – As you put food away, put new behind the old so that you make sure to use the old items before you use the new items. For items that are shelf stable until opening, like mayonnaise, keep out of the fridge until the old is used.

6. Have a Leftover Day – At least once a week, have a day where everyone only eats leftovers. This is a great way to use up all the food that you have prepared. You can heat it all up and serve it buffet style.

7. Conduct Inventory Regularly – Before shopping, always check what you have available and what is getting ready to expire so that you can create dishes using those ingredients that you already have on hand.

8. Use Scraps Wisely – When you have food scraps there are things you can do with it, such as use it to make compost, or create broths.  Even your leftover fresh veggies can be turned into a flavor filled broth for making your next batch of soup.

9. Learn Proper Storage Techniques – There is a right way, and a wrong way, a right place, and a wrong place to store each item that you purchase. Do your research and learn how to store everything correctly to get the most use out of it.

10. Preserve Your Own – Can it, pickle it, or freeze it if you realize you’re not going to have time to eat it before it goes bad. For example, fermented cabbage is an excellent way to use up cabbage that is getting close to expiring.  A simple pickling will save it for later use.  This is also true of most fresh vegetables, [cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, etc.] thus cutting down on your food waste.

11. Eat Expired Food – Most food has expiration dates that aren’t really when the food “goes bad” but rather when it must be sold by. Most foods are fine for at least 7 days past the expiration or sell-by date.

With a little planning and thought you can eliminate most food waste. If somehow you still end up with extra food because you couldn’t say no to a sale, you can save the day by donating it to your local food bank.

Tips for Reducing Your Family’s Food Waste

You might be surprised to learn that in the United States, we have more than 34 million tons of food waste on an annual basis. That accounts for around 14 percent of the total waste we place in our landfills, where it decomposes and creates greenhouse gases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that families in the United States waste about 27 percent of their food purchases, thus wasting spendable income.

So what can you do to reduce your food waste? Keep in mind that by reducing the amount of food you throw away, you’re actually saving money too. The following tips and lifestyle changes will help you make sure very little goes to waste.

[1] Meal Planning will help stop Food Waste.

Plan your meals weekly. Decide how many meals your family will be eating at home each week. Then make a written plan of what you need for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Create a list and then shop from the list, buying only what you need. When you’re making the list, keep the recipes in front of you so you can make sure you buy the right quantity. For example, if a stir fry recipe calls for 10 ounces of chicken, you can buy only around 10 ounces, about one large chicken breast.

[2] Learning to Love Leftovers will stop Food Waste.

Much of the food that goes to waste in your home is most likely due to leftovers. Either change your meal planning so you don’t have leftovers, or learn to love them. For example, leftover stir fry may not sound like a typical breakfast, but it can be quite satisfying if you add a couple of eggs and create an omelet. You can also, plan to use them the next day for your brown bag lunch.

food waste This is one of my favorite ways to use leftovers for another meal.  A finger food plate where everyone gets a verity of small leftovers for a complete meal.  Black bean salad with corn tortilla chips, salmon pete` on celery sticks, sliced fresh veggies and a boiled egg makes an inviting meal, while clearing out the refrigerator.

[3] Learning to Preserve food will stop Food Waste.

There are many different opportunities to preserve your produce before it goes bad. For example, if you buy an abundance of apples and can’t eat them all before they go bad, you can chop them up and freeze them. You can place them in a food dehydrator or a low temperature oven and make dried apple slices. You can also cook them down and toss them in a food processor and make applesauce or apple butter.

Finally, if you just can’t do anything with that food and it’s going to end up in a landfill, consider composting. Composting turns your food scraps and paper scraps into rich soil that you can use in your garden, landscaping or even in your indoor plants. It’s a smart way to help keep food waste out of landfills and to enhance your gardening experience.

 

The first thing that comes to my mind, when dealing with leftovers, is soup. You can make a soup out of just about anything you have on hand, including holiday leftovers.

Roasted Chicken Leftovers

This year we didn’t have turkey for Christmas, we had [3] Roasted Chickens instead. After pulling off the meat, I kept the carcass to make our soup of the week. I’ll add them to 4 quarts of water with a teaspoon of salt, 2 celery stalks, 1 medium onion and 2 carrots. I’ll bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down, allowing it to simmer for an hour or so, then drain off the broth, to use for the soup stock. I’ll reserve any loose chicken meat and the vegetables.

To the stock, I’ll add back in the carrots, celery, onion* and any leftover chicken, vegetables, including the mashed potatoes and gravy. The potatoes will thicken the soup and give it a creamy texture. Taste to see if it needs more seasonings, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, giving the ingredients time to mingle. Serve the soup with a loaf of warm French Bread and a new dessert. No one will know they are eating what was left of their holiday feast.

My second suggestion is a frittata. It’s another easy dinner that can utilize a lot of the stuff you might otherwise have thrown away.

To make one, use two or three eggs per person. Crack into a bowl and beat with salt and pepper. Then, add in vegetable leftovers, using whatever is in the fridge. Cold meat, can be sliced into bite size pieces and added in. Cooked vegetables can go right in. You may want to rinse them in hot water to remove their older seasonings. If so, be sure to drain them well before adding them to the egg mixture or your frittata might become wet and runny.

Firm fresh produce (carrots, broccoli, and even mushrooms) should be sauteed until tender, preferably with a little garlic or onion, before adding to the eggs. Italians even throw in leftover pasta, which is a great way to use those leftovers. Then, heat a little olive oil in a large saute pan, that can also be used in the oven and pour in the egg mixture.

While the egg mixture is cooking, turn the broiler on low. Heat eggs on stove top until they start setting around the edge of the pan. Then, grate some cheese over the top. (Use what you have on hand. Cheddar is really good with broccoli; Italian cheese like Parmesan is delicious with ham and/or mushroom.) Turn off the stove top and place the pan under the broiler until eggs are set and cheese is melted. Allow to cool briefly, then slice as you would a pie and serve.

You have just made good use of food items that might have gotten tossed. In turn, you have a couple of delicious dinners and saved lots of money in your food budget using your leftovers.

* cut the vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces