Statistics say that the average family of 4 produces 840 pounds of food waste a year. After being so careful when purchasing my groceries, the last thing I want to do is end up throwing them away. Here are some ways that I keep our hard-earned food dollars from hitting the trash.
- ‘Soup’ any leftover veggies that you have. I stash mine in a bowl in the fridge for easy soup starters. The soup pictured here is a great use for leftover green beans. (Related: MAKE soup at least a couple times a week. It is filling, healthy, and affordable.)
- Scrape containers out well. A dab of water added to near-empty condiment bottles, shaken well, will usually get you another serving or two. Obvious stuff, I know, and sometimes it feels like it isn’t worth your time. But getting the last dab out of everything will save you many servings over the course of a year, and models wise stewardship to your kids as well.
- Shake out and wipe out ziplocks and re-use when they’ve been used for dry things like bread or cookies. I do this with thin bags I’ve gotten in the bulk food section at the grocery store as well. (Any bag that has been used for raw meat always hits the trash, however.)
- Store leftovers in reusable containers as much as possible instead of using spendy ziplocks or yards of plastic wrap that will be thrown away. Recently I got a nice pyrex set that makes it easy to see what I’ve got in the fridge, and more likely I’ll remember it in time to use it.
- Stash single servings of leftovers in freezer containers and freeze them immediately to go in lunch boxes. This keeps you from having to guess if a leftover is still edible. My husband routinely takes frozen leftovers to work and reheats to eat at lunch time. He says that the ladies at work often notice the good smells and asks what he’s eating today.
- Serve it different ways. When I’ve made a large quantity of an item, I rarely serve it the same way twice. Beans can be served with rice on the first day. A second day I’ll toss a cup or two of beans into beef stew. Another day I’ll make the remainder into re-fried beans served with cheese in tortillas (hint for making refried beans yummy: butter). I sometimes freeze extra items to be served a different week, saving my family boredom now and me cooking time later. I also routinely have one or two leftover meals a week, where I set out all the leftovers and folks zap what they want.
Like everyone, we still waste food at times, but these tips keep us from throwing too many dimes, quarters and dollars into the trash. What do you throw away most often? How do you minimize food waste at your house?