Thursday, March 20, 2014

Eliminating Food Waste and A Tip for Berries

One of the changes I have been trying to make in my household has been to try and eliminate food waste. I hated going through the fridge and tossing things that I had forgotten about. I found this article interesting about food waste here in the United States. It is kind of mind boggling how much food ends up in the trash. Tossing uneaten food is really just tossing your money away and I am so 
cheap--I mean frugal--that it kills me to toss that food.

I have a few strategies that I use that I want to share:

***Meal Planning-I can't stress meal planning enough! I helps me save time, money and I have a plan for everything that goes in my cart. I participate in the Bountiful Basket food co-op and when I show up to get my produce, I have no idea what is going to be in that basket. It is a surprise every week, all I know is that half will be veggies and the other half will be fruits. The fruits are easy, I normally eat them as snacks or part of breakfast or lunch. When I get home from my pickup, I go ahead and plan my meals for the week and I plan them around the food in my basket. My grocery list comes next and I pretty much stick to that list when I am at the store. If I find a good deal on something for the pantry I will get it, but rarely purchase any impulse items that will go bad quickly.

***Plan for Leftovers- I use almost all of our leftovers for lunches. At least two, and sometimes more, of the meals that I make each week will leave enough leftovers that I can cover lunches. When I am putting the leftovers away, I go ahead and put them in lunch containers, ready to grab and pop into a lunch box. I really like these Easy Lunch Boxes or the Laptop Bento boxes and use these most days for lunch. 

***Prep Foods--I prep most of my foods when I get home with my food. I go ahead and wash everything and cut up veggies for salads and snacks. I find that if I go ahead and do those things and make them easy to grab, then they get eaten and not wasted. This also makes it easier to grab a quick, healthy snack.

My system isn't perfect and occasionally I will end up tossing something that goes bad. All scraps that can, get tossed into the compost pile, it isn't ending up in the trash can.

Here is a tip for keeping berries fresher for a couple of days longer. I run a sink of cold water (or pour water in a large bowl) and add a good sized splash of vinegar. I stir a bit then add my fruit to wash it.

After a couple of minutes, I will put them into a colander to drain. I don't rinse them and you can't taste the vinegar.

After they are dry, I fold a paper towel and put it in the bottom of a berry basket and then add the fruit to the bowl. These are plastic bowls that look like the baskets you often find at a Farmer's Market or fruit stand. I have seen these in lots of stores in the summer, including the dollar aisle of Target.

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