I've come to the realization that quite a bit of food in our house is wasted - fruits and veggies go bad; leftovers get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten; uneaten food on the kids' plates; restaurant meals that are too much for one meal (at least for me), but not enough to be worth taking home; that can of "cream of whatever" soup that I bought for a certain recipe but never made and now it's been living in the pantry for far too long... sadly, I'm sure there's something here that most of us can relate to. Food is so abundant here that we don't really think twice when it goes to waste. There's always more waiting for us, right?
My goal for the new year is to try to minimize the amount of food that goes to waste. Here are some of the ways I plan to accomplish this:
- Give the kids small servings, especially of new foods. I am not one to eat my kids' leftovers (unless it's something like leftover cake ;) ), so any uneaten food on their plates usually ends up in the garbage. If I start them off with smaller servings, they can always have more if they want, but hopefully then there will be less to throw away if it's not eaten.
- Don't buy items in bulk unless I know that we will eat them regularly. A long time ago I bought a case of 12 cans of tomato soup (it was a good deal). I can't remember when I bought them, but I know that we just finished off the last can a few weeks ago, and its best before date was September 2012 (yes, I still used it even though it had already "expired" - I figured a few months in the life of a canned good wasn't much of an issue. And we were all fine). Anyway, I'm often tempted to buy in bulk (or buy a bigger size) to get a better deal. However, I'm learning that it's not always a better deal, especially if the food will expire or go bad before you eat it!
- Eat my pantry. Sure, there are staples in there that I want to keep "on hand", but there's a lot of stuff lurking in the corners that needs to be used up before it goes bad.
- Create an inventory list for my freezer. I want to buy a dry-erase board and hang it next to my freezer in the basement so I can keep track of what's in the freezer (and what's not). Far too often I forget about what I have in there, and then I end up buying more (or I just forget about it, and it sits in there until it turns into a freezer-burned chunk of ice).
- Eat supper leftovers for lunch, or plan a "leftover night" once a week. I'm not a fan of leftovers in general, so this one may be tough for me. I also find it difficult to do a "leftovers" meal, since sometimes it can be hard to come up with enough food for 4 people, if there's just a little bit of this and that left over (or to find leftovers that the kids will eat - when they didn't like the meal on the first go round, it certainly won't be getting a better reception when it's re-heated!). I think probably the best way to deal with supper leftovers is for me or Carey to eat them for lunch. Or I could try to plan our meals better so that we either have no leftovers or else enough left over for a complete 2nd meal.
- Stop buying bagged salad. Another tough one for me. It's sort of silly - I don't even really like the bagged salad, but it's so convenient that I keep buying it. However, we almost never finish off a bag before it goes bad (unless it's caesar salad), and I usually throw about half the bag away. So I either need to stop buying bagged salad, or start eating more of it.
- Eat fresh fruits and veggies before they go bad. It's usually those "almost-but-not-quite-bad" ones that get left behind (even though they're still quite edible), and then they go totally bad and get thrown away. I need to make sure we either eat them despite the fact that they may be a little "past prime", or else eat them before they get to that stage. (I guess I could also just purchase less fresh produce, but I don't really think that's the right way to deal with it - I like having a good variety of fresh fruits and veggies on hand).
- Try to order smaller meals at restaurants, or order something that will reheat well the next day if I have leftovers. I wish more restaurants would make their "seniors' meals" available to everyone - basically they're just a smaller meal at a lower price, so why shouldn't everyone be able to order them?