Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Practical Tips to Reduce Food Waste

Today’s material was inspired by Leah Gramlow’s article, ‘Six Creative Ways to WasteLess Food and Save More Money’ in the MSU Extension Lives and Landscapes publication.  According to the article, “Americans send 52.4 million tons of food to the landfill each year.  On average, a family of four discards between $1,365 and $2,275 in food annually.”  In low-income countries, most food loss occurs during production while in developed countries like the U.S., most food waste occurs at the consumption stage.
Personally, I am just as guilty of buying groceries and then becoming extremely frustrated with myself when I end up not only throwing them out, but also cleaning up the mess they left in the fridge.  Here’s 6 ways to help reduce food waste, which will also stretch your grocery dollars.
Pies are an especially fun way to use
up fruit and stockpile in the freezer.
Photo by Kari Lewis
·       Utilize your freezer.  It’s just as easy to make a big pot of chili or pan of lasagna as a small batch, but   After cooking, portion meals that you cannot eat within 3 to 5 days into individual servings and freeze for later.  Having these meals on hand in the freezer is a great resource for busy nights or to share with someone in need.  When making something like zucchini bread which can dry out within a few days, I like to slice it and then wrap a couple slices together and place in a large Ziploc bag so it’s easy to grab a slice from the freezer and go.
those leftovers can lose their appeal quickly.
·       Make fruits and vegetables easily accessible and ready to eat – By washing and slicing apples, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, grapes, etc., it’s easy to grab a healthy snack.  However, if that produce simply remains in the bag, it is much less appealing.  If I make a large bowl of salad for the week, it gets eaten, but if I leave the individual ingredients in their bags, there’s a much greater chance I’ll be throwing them out later! 
·       Keep those ready to eat, cut up fruits and vegetables in clear containers at eye level so that they are the first thing to be seen and eaten from the refrigerator.  Often times we are just looking for a quick and convenient snack and cut up fruit is just as quick and convenient as chips or crackers if it’s already prepped. 
·       Process or donate produce – If you grew more food from the garden than your family can use, donate it to the local food bank, share it with a neighbor or process it.  This might include making tomato sauce from tomatoes or blanching and freezing vegetables, for example.  For fruits, I especially like to use my dehydrator or slice and freeze fruit to have ready for a crisp or pie. 
·       Proper storage also helps extend produce’s life.  Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves and keep fruits and vegetables in separate bins.  Wait to wash berries until you’re ready to eat them to prevent mold. 
Sliders are a great way to use leftover meat, buns, etc.  These
turkey sliders featured buns, cranberry sauce, cheese, turkey, and
an easy glaze.  Photo by Kari Lewis.  

Lastly, plan to use those leftovers.  As you plan meals or grocery shop, think of what is already in the fridge or pantry.  That leftover roast beef can become BBQed Beef sandwiches, the leftover turkey can be turned into pot pie or a soup, leftover veggies from a relish tray can become a stir fry, leftover mashed potatoes can go on Shepherd’s Pie, the opportunities are endless!  Casseroles, stir fries, soups, smoothies, berry sauce on pancakes, etc. are all great ways to use up leftovers.

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