Ways To Waste Less Food
I hate throwing away food. I get a little pit in my stomach every time I toss anything edible into the trashcan or down the garbage disposal. Not only am I literally throwing away my hard-earned money, but I’m also doing what feels like a rather ungrateful act. I know there are people out there who would do anything to get to eat the food I’m discarding. But, it feels a little odd packaging up one quarter of a turkey sandwich and the last few spoons of a soup to deliver to somebody in need. I can’t salvage every last piece of food I bring into my home, but I’ve become a master at nearly doing so, and it really helps me feel better, and plan my meals better. With the proper planning and understanding of your ingredients, you can make use of almost all of your food. Here are ways to waste less food.
Refrigerate avocados when they’re ripe
The moment your avocados on the counter reach perfect ripeness, put them in the fridge. They can stay at just about that exact ripeness for about a week in the fridge. However, once they ripen on the counter and stay there, they can go bad in a day or two. There are so many unique uses for this fruit, so it’s a shame to let it go to waste.
Buy airtight containers for pantry goods
Don’t just put a chip clip on opened cereal, pancake mix, rice, flour, or other similar dry pantry items. Maggots can and will find their way into these if there’s so much as a pea-size of an opening. Purchase airtight containers for such items, and they can last you months.
Buy smaller jars of pasta sauces
Though those restaurant-size cans of tomato sauce seem like a good idea at the time, a small family rarely needs even half of those. By the time you’re craving another spaghetti night, the other half has gone bad. It’s better to buy smaller items you’ll get through, even it means spending a little more. In the end, you don’t save money by buying something larger if you throw half of it out.
Buy produce several times a week
Rather than buying a ton of produce once a week and rushing to finish it before it rots, stop by the store twice (or three times) a week to pick up fresh produce. You know you never make it through a week’s worth of produce in time.
Buy produce in several ripeness levels
If you must buy produce in bulk, buy it in three levels of ripeness: unripe, nearly ripe, and ripe. So, for example, buy some green bananas, some light yellow ones, and some ready-to-eat ones so they can ripen as you eat them.
Treat frozen food as a last resort
See the food in your freeze as a truly last resort. Don’t touch it if you still have fresh food. That’s how you accidentally let fresh food that was one day from turning turn.
Find a recipe that meets your ingredients
Stop buying new ingredients to make a recipe you want to make and instead find a recipe that works around the ingredients you already have. You’d be surprised how a quick search for, “What can I make with insert three ingredients here?” can yield plenty of results.
Remember how to multi-task foods
Think outside the box on commonly-used ingredients. Remember that cold noodles can be turned into a pasta salad or added to a chicken noodle soup. If you have just a few spoonfuls of several vegetables, put them all together in a veggie soup or vegetable ragout.
Don’t buy in bulk
It’s just not a great idea to buy in bulk for several reasons. One reason is that the food goes bad before you can eat it and another reason is that you simply get sick of the food before you finish it. Buy small batches of diverse ingredients.
Don’t let limp produce put you off
Just because your vegetables have gone limp doesn’t mean they aren’t good. Veggies like zucchini, asparagus, and carrots go limp within just a couple of days of buying them, but if you cook them, they’ll taste like brand new.
Make cold cooked veggies into a salad
Another good way to make use of awkward portions of pre-cooked veggies is to make a medley salad. A few spheres of cold but cooked potatoes, butternut squash, and eggplant all taste delicious with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Freeze meat and fish on the “use by” date
If your fresh meat or seafood has reached the “use by” date but you aren’t ready to eat it, just freeze it. Then defrost it when you’re ready to eat it right away. Insider’s tip: that’s what a lot of “manager’s specials” at grocery stores are. They’re pre-frozen food that needs to be eaten today.
Freeze bread on the “use by” date
Bread is another thing you shouldn’t toss out just because it’s reached its use-by date. Freeze it, and defrost slices as you’re ready to use them. If you have an unsliced loaf or baguette, cut it before freezing the slices.
Freeze super ripe fruit
Cut up super ripe fruit, put it in ziplock bags, and freeze it. It will make smoothies easy and tasty later.
When in doubt, make an omelet or pancakes
Don’t forget that just about anything tastes good in either an omelet or a pancake. Smoked salmon tastes great in omelets and makes a nice savory pancake with some sour cream and chives. Any ripe fruit will taste great with some pancake batter. Small leftovers of meat, like a half a cup of shredded beef, taste delicious in an omelet.