Happy Earth Day! Did you know that Americans throw away %40 of their food?
Did you know that equals $165 billion a year??
That’s BILLION, with a B.
It’s easy to make little changes to your life so that you stop wasting food. It’s also easy to start small, with recipes that you make in the beginning of the week and use all week, along with little ideas and changes you can make in your lives.
1. Make a meal plan and a LIST for the grocery store!
I almost always have a plan for the week when it comes to dinner time. I love to figure out ways to cook a main protein (like my amazing Perfect Roast Chicken recipe) and then use it all week long in different recipes. Make my roast chicken, then use it to make leftovers like Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, or even just Chicken Tacos or Quesadillas for the kids. Use the carcass to make chicken stock and any leftover veggies to make soup. BAM. Money saved.
2. Shop like the Europeans – go more often
I KNOW people don’t want to hear this, but the people who go to the store once in a blue moon and feel super efficient? Are probably wasting a ton of food. Like I said above, have a plan and a list, but also be realistic about how long fresh food is going to last. A fresh loaf of bread is going to get HARD after a few days and produce can vary. Fresh produce from the farmstand or farmer’s market will last longer (because they haven’t traveled as far) but our family usually gets fruit and vegetables at least once every 3-4 days. Here’s a great printable from Oh My Veggies to hang on the fridge.
3. Learn to cook out of your pantry
While of COURSE it’s important to have fresh fruits and veggies on hand for the health of your family, we often overlook the things we’ve bought and stashed away. With the whole world buying in bulk these days, it’s not surprising that we have pantries full of goods that we tend to forget about. Plan on one day a week where at least %75 of the ingredients come out of your pantry . If you plan in advance you’ll know exactly what you have and what you can make with it. Supercook is a cool website that helps you figure out what to make, with what you have on hand.
4. Clean out your fridge once a week – and cook with it
I love to go through my refrigerator every week and empty it out of all the veggies and fruits before they go bad. Dice up those veggies to go into Kitchen Sink Soup. Find the fruit that might be JUST at the end of it’s shelf life and freeze it for smoothies. If it’s a leftover and still good? EAT IT.
5. Grow your own
You’ll have a MUCH healthier respect for your food if you grow it. When you realize how long it takes to actually get that vegetable on your table, you’ll be less likely to waste it. You also won’t get fruits and vegetables in such quantity as you can buy at the store (usually) so you’ll be able to use it as you need it. (This of course does not apply to my zucchini plants, which are prolific… see all my zucchini recipes if you have THAT problem.)
Bonus tips for not wasting food
Get CHICKENS or COMPOST! Most of my kitchen scraps go to my chickens. Proteins, tops of veggies, anything is fair game for them as long as it’s healthy and unprocessed. Food can also go into your compost… just make sure there’s no dairy or proteins because you’ll get varmits… A great place to learn more about home composting is HGTV. It’s easy and doesn’t have to take up a ton of room, it also gets rid of your kitchen scraps and turns them into soil, which you can use for MORE VEGGIES!
These are easy easy tips to cut back on wasting food and SAVE YOU SOME MONEY. Because I know that we could ALL use more of that in our lives.