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.

 

Have you ever wondered how our grandmothers managed to keep food on the table without going to the grocery store every day? They knew the importance of keeping a few staples on hand in their pantry.  Many great meals have been made using these ingredients.

www.HassiesKitchenTable.com

Kitchen Pantry

Flour

Flour is the beginning or the end of many great meals. It can be used, not only for bread items but gravies, pies, or making a great batter for frying chicken. There are several kinds of flour. The most common one being enriched white, whole wheat, self rising and all purpose.  Keep your family’s favorite in your pantry and see how often it comes in handy for your meal.

Rice

Rice, like the flour comes in many types. It’s very versatile pantry item and can be used from breakfast to dinner. Brown rice is better with meats, while white rice is what I call company rice. It likes keeping company with other food items, such as soups, salads or casseroles.

Pasta

I love pasta of all kinds. Just when I think I have tried every kind, I find a new one. You can cook a pound of pasta and have several different meals just by what you top or mix it with. It turns a simple soup into something spectacular, a salad into a meal and a tomato sauce into something divine. Choose your favorite, then keep it in your pantry to  save on your grocery budget through out the year.

Spices to keep on hand.

You should always have salt and pepper in the house but a few more to have on hand are:  Basil, Chili Powder, Cinnamon, Gloves, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage and Thyme

These are my favorites but you should experiment with several spices and see what your family likes best. Buy them in small container as they will loose their strength as time goes on. Large containers can be a waste of your food budget.

Beans

There are many kinds of beans.  All are a great source of protein and can stretch your food budget.  They can be used alone of in salads, dips, soups or stews.

Pinto Beans are usually the most popular but I like the dark red Kidney Beans and the small Northern White Beans for most of my meals.   

Sugar, Honey, Molasses

Keeping one of these sweets on hand in your pantry, will ensure you the best results in your cooking and baking.  We all love something sweet in our meals.  It can be the baked beans, or the chocolate cake but having that little bit of sweet taste makes the whole meal, seem better.

Vegetable Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Natural Butter

Very little cooking can be done without using one of these pantry stable.  Adding a little oil or fats will enrich the flavors of  meats or vegetables.  They also allow us to make a more fulfilling meal with salad dressings, gravies, breads and deserts. 

When you have these staples in your home pantry, there will always be a way to put a meal on your table.

Fall is coming, we can feel the coolness in the air and see the leaves beginning to turn in color. Today I am passing along one of my Mother’s favorite cool weather recipes for Fried Green Tomatoes. Growing up I was never a big fan of this recipe but as it was one of mother’s favorites, I taught myself to make it when she came to live with me.

While it calls for green tomatoes, I always thought they were too tart, even after frying, so I use tomatoes that are just on the verge of turning pink but are still firm to the touch.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

For this recipe you will need:

About ¾ cup yellow cornmeal

About ½ cup all purpose white flour

Salt and black pepper

About 1 teaspoon sugar, optional

About ½ teaspoon crumbled dried Italian oregano or sweet marjoram

1 extra-large egg or 2 medium

¼ cup of milk

3 to 4 green tomatoes, sliced about 1/2-inch thick

Oil for frying (I use vegetable or olive oil)


In a shallow bowl, mix the flour and cornmeal with the seasonings; season generously with salt and pepper. Beat the egg and milk, in another small shallow bowl.

Pour oil in a large skillet to about 1/2-inch deep then heat over medium heat. While the oil is heating place paper towels on a baking sheet.

One at a time, dip the tomato slices into the egg, and then dredge them, on both sides in the flour/cornmeal mixture. I use a fork or my hands, which ever you like, to handle the tomato slices, taking them from egg to dry ingredients, to skillet. Carefully drop them into the hot oil until the pan is full. Saute them in one layer, you might need to make them in a few batches. Turn them in about 3 to 5 minutes, when they are golden brown on the underside. Saute for another 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown and remove them from the oil, [use tongs for this move], then to the pan with the paper towels to drain, while you cook the rest.

Fried green tomatoes can be eaten, alone, as an appetizer or with a garlic aioli or corn salsa. They are often served as a side dish with supper, or they can also be served on a bed of greens with goat cheese rounds on top, as part of a salad. How ever you like them remember to serve them hot.

What’s for dinner?  Here are some menu helping tips for busy a Mom.

Dinner being the last meal of the day, becomes a time when families can get together and talk about their day. It is also a hectic meal time for most moms who are just getting off of work.  If you are a busy mom, here are some menu planning tips to help make the age old question What’s for Dinner?, easier to answer and even have fun.

Schedule your meals a week in advance.

What's For Dinner

This is one of the most important planning tips for “What’s For Dinner”? Knowing what you are going to eat throughout the week means less chance that you will stop off at the closest fast food joint for a convenient, but unhealthy meal. Decide on the last day of the previous week, what the menu will be for the following week. Create your shopping list from the list of your on hand ingredients, to avoid buying what you don’t need at the grocery store.

Look for bargains.

Clip, share or trade coupons.  Read advertising circulars to decide where the best grocery to shop is for your menu items. If one ingredient is a common denominator in many meals, consider buying in bulk to save money. Common staples like milk, eggs, bread and sugar can be bought in bulk as well. Some stores will have double or triple coupon days when you can save even more.

Search online.

Don’t get into a rut, your family will get tired of chicken and rice every Thursday.  Use the Internet to search for new and exciting What’s for Dinner? recipes.  You can also learn to put a new twist on an old recipe for a new taste.

Have a leftover night.

After cooking meals for five or six days, there is bound to be left over food.  Choose one night a week to be leftover night and let everyone mix and match for dinner. It will save you money and keep your food waste to almost nothing.

Cook your meals in advance.

After deciding on your, What’s For Dinner? menu question, go ahead and fix as many of the meals, as you can. Choose a day when you will have some help on hand.  Each person can take one meal and fix it for the following week. Once everything has cooled, store it in sealed containers or casserole dishes to be frozen until the night it is needed.

Do prep work in advance.

In most cases, all of the meals can’t be cooked at once time. Some foods just taste better, cooked fresh. For them, do as much prep work as you can, in advance.  Get your kids to help chop but let them use the kitchen shears instead of knives. When you have the vegetables chopped and the cooked meat, diced, place them into air tight container and refrigerate, until needed.  Mix together the dry ingredients and do likewise. The night of the meal, add the wet ingredients and cook.

What’s for dinner?, does not have to be a question that only mom can answer. The entire family can help with dinner so it is a relaxing meal for everyone.

Here is one of my favorite places to get family dinner ideas: