I hate wasting food; it bothers me so much to throw away food that I have either forgotten at the back of the fridge, or simply did not use it in time before it goes off.
Not only is it unbelievably tragic, it’s also a complete waste of money, you might as well flush a twenty, it’s the same thing.
Over the years I have learned and put into practice a few simple things that have helped me immensely in cutting back on the volume of food I throw out with an added bonus, of saving me some green ($$) in the process.
1. Check the ‘best before’ labels often
Regularly check these dates on foods that are most costly (meat, fish), I have found that if I know the “best before’ date I am more likely to use it faster rather than leaving it sitting in the back of the fridge. If you buy something and realize you probably won’t get to cook it, put it in the freezer, this happens to me all the time with fish. If you are buying larger bags of fish and chicken, divvy them up into individual portions as soon as you get home from the grocery store, and freeze them, don’t wait to do this. It’s an important step in reducing food waste.
2. Stock up
I like to keep my freezer and pantry stocked with foods that don’t have short “best before” dates. I shop at Bulk Barn for things like rice, pasta, and quinoa. For smoothies, I keep frozen fruits and veggies on hand and have a stock of frozen fish and chicken too. Having a well stock pantry and freezer lets you whip up something healthy quickly.
For example you may have a few old tomatoes hanging about in your fridge, you can make a really nice homemade pasta sauce, add it so some pasta and even throw some chicken and frozen veggies into the mix, just don’t forget to take it out of the freezer before you leave for work.
Fresh food, in most cases, is better than frozen, but if you want to eat in season and are trying to be mindful of food miles, shopping seasonally and freezing those foods is a great way to start.
3. Prior planning prevents poor performance
My dad taught me this and boy was he right! If you want to cut down on food waste, you need to plan out your meals; it’s also probably one of the MOST effective ways to save money. On Sunday’s before visiting the farmers market or grocery shop, I think about what I want to cook the following week, I have a selection of go-to meals that I can choose from and ones I know my hubby loves. We both work full time, so I am always looking for recipes that are healthy, and easy to make, I will be sharing some of my fav’s over the next few months.
Once you have a clear idea of what you are going to cook, check the fridge and freezer to see what you actually need. Then make a list, this ensures you only buy what you need and you are not buying things you may already have.
4. Portion control
And I don’t mean for weight loss. Cook enough food and maybe a little extra for leftovers, often times we tend to make too much and it ends up being tossed out. You can use food portion calculator like this one to help and read the cooking instructions as well. Put those leftovers to good use, if you roast a chicken, keep the water at the bottom as chicken stock, make a yummy chicken and mayo sandwich the next day, and use the carcass to make an amazing bone broth, think outside the box and google “leftovers”, there are so many great resources on-line to help you.
5. Proper storage is key
There are a ton of really good, sustainable products on the market that will help keep your food fresh longer. One of my fav’s is Abeego, I have been using them for years, they are amazing at keeping your cheese, fruit, vegetables, herbs, bread and other solid food products fresh. Founder Toni Desrosiers created Abeego in her kitchen with the simple purpose to find a solution to preserve food naturally. The wraps are a breathable, antibacterial and re-usable alternative to plastic food wrap.
Abeego is founded on the principles that all the ingredients used in their food wraps will be completely natural, keep food fresh and be approved by the FDA for food contact.
I love that the sustainable Abeego products allow food to breathe, so that ethylene gas can dissipate and produce can live longer. And, when you’re done using the Abeego wrap, don’t toss it out! Just give it a wash in cold water and it’s ready use again once. They last about a year!
6. Hack it!
- Here are a few of my fav food hacks:
- When it comes to leftovers! Use up that last bit of yoghurt for smoothies or cereal toppings.
- Keep fresh herbs fresh longer. Simply wash, pat dry, and store in tightly closed jars in the fridge. Jars seem to help them keep longer and cut down on plastic waste at the same time.
- Steep fruit peels, like apple and orange, in hot water for a simple homemade tea. Stir in a little honey for a delicious, warm drink.
- Peel your garlic and put it in a jar of oil in the fridge to preserve it for much longer!
- Don’t store your eggs on the fridge door because it’s the warmest part of the fridge. Store it on one of the middle or top shelves instead
- Freeze reduced near ‘sell-by date’ sliced bread, and only thaw as many slices as you need at a time.