Food / Groceries, Frugal, Personal Finance, Saving Money

Simple Ways To Reduce Food Waste

In even the most organized of kitchens, there will be waste. Spills, failed recipes and other mishaps will add to food costs. It cannot be helped because accidents do happen. At the same time, a lot of waste can be avoided and a lot of unnecessary costs do not have to be suffered. It just takes a bit of planning and organization and a consistent approach to kitchen management. Here are five things you can do to help limit your kitchen waste.

Know Your Customers: If you are cooking for a family of four and only two of the four actually enjoy a particular food, don’t buy that particular food and assume that all four will eat it. Whether the food is spinach or steak, you cannot hope to change food preferences just by putting the food on the table. Trying to do so will only result in waste.

Organize Your Food Storage Areas: Working in retail when I was *much* younger, I learned to front and face the store shelves every night. When stocking the shelves, older product was moved to the edge of the shelf and new product was placed behind it. You need to do the same in your pantry. Make sure the older products are more accessible than the new products. It is fine to stock up on an item, but if you do not make sure that the oldest product is used first, you will find that the old products just get pushed to the back of the shelf until they are too old to be eaten.

Date Your Frozen Foods and Your Bulk Items Whatever goes into your freezer should be dated and you need to pay attention to the dates. Pick a day of the week to build a meal around the oldest items in your freezer. Make sure that your meats are used before they are mistaken for frozen mammoth emerging from the ice! The same is true with flour, cornmeal and other grains. Keep them dated and use them before they exceed their useful life.

Force Variety on Your Household: There are few things that are essential in a kitchen. Milk, eggs, juice and a few other staples might be needed almost every day but if you have a well stocked kitchen there are usually viable substitutes for most things. Allow your kitchen to run out of a few items before you head to the store. If your kids are looking for orange juice but you know that you have had apple juice and cranberry juice in your pantry for a couple of weeks, bring out the alternate juices and let the kids finish off a bottle or two before you head off to buy more OJ.

Ensure a Good Seal: Potato chips, cereals, meals, flours, sugar and a bunch of other products tend to be packaged in bags that will not seal well, if at all. If you do not seal those products, they will get stale or become bug infested. I buy plastic clothes pins to seal up chip and cereal bags. Flour, sugar and similar products are stored in easy to seal plastic bags. A good seal extends the shelf life and helps to ensure that there are fewer spills to clean up.

How do you avoid waste in the kitchen?

5 thoughts on “Simple Ways To Reduce Food Waste

  1. We always save whatever is leftover, no matter how small. We had a couple spoonfuls of a tomato & squash mixture leftover from dinner. We saved it, and I threw it in with eggs a couple days later for lunch.

  2. Interesting. A friend and I were talking about American vs European approaches to food shopping just the other day. Being single, I’m finding that the European approach is infiltrating my food buying. lol

    First, unless I intend to do some canning or freezing, I buy only enough produce to last me a few days. For healthy reasons, I try to buy what’s local or in season, which also helps reduce costs most of the time. Although I tend to look for what meat/poultry/fish is on sale, I no longer buy more than I’d use in about 8 meals. (When I was buying in bigger bulk, I actually ended up throwing out meat/poultry/fish!)

    After living in California where bugs could be a HUGE problem in dry goods, I put them in large mason jars or something that has a decent seal (amazing what you can find at Goodwill or Salvation Army for less than a buck) ’cause it can take me over a year to go through one five-pound bag of flour. 🙂

    Like the first responder said, I save small amounts of leftovers and tend to use them eggs or with whole wheat pasta or on top of a baked potato.

    Works for me!

  3. We find that making a weekly meal plan helps cut down on food waste as it is easier to only buy what you need. There is less guessing of whether we already have something and fewer spontaneous purchases of things that might not be used and that would go to waste. For things that are leftover in the fridge, meal planning also helps to combine those into plans for future shopping trips before they go to waste.

  4. Slowly, I’ve introduced a more organic diet on my family. As “almost” empty-nesters, we aren’t sure when or if the College aged daughter will even be home for dinner. So, I too, have taken the approach of going to get fresh produce every couple days. Also, utilizing my refridgerator/freezer a little better. My husband is a “picky” eater and it’s taken me 22+ years to get him to eat the veggies he needs to for his health problems, therefore, I leave no room for, “is there anything else?” Nope, ya get Zuccinni and Chicken. Chicken is now doing and making wonderful things at our local Whole Foods market! I can get ground chicken, which has a much better texture and mouth feel, let along taste, of turkey. I’ve also found that they make some of the best sausage meat from Chicken! Now my husband is in to this! It may be a Chicken Brat, but is sure doesn’t taste like one! Andioulle, Chorizon, Apple/Bacon, they’ve given me the ability, to indivuidually freeze a component, like a Chorizo Chicken Sausage, add it to some organic ground chicken thigh meat, add some smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and Olive Oil, obviously it’s low fat, along with whatever *heat* component you love, I use Ancho Chili Pepper (ground, you find it in the spice aisle), warm up so low-fat by nature, corn tortilla and either make tacos or crisp the torillas more and make nachos, adding organic cheeses of your choice.

    I also don’t buy in bulk anymore. Many years ago, we bought a side by side fridge and then had a dedicated freezer. I did what is called “batch cooking” or “Once-a-month-cooking”. When you do this, you plan your meals, well in advance, along with all the storage necessiities you’ll need, a black sharpie to date everything, a Foodsaver or other vaccum sealer is healpful but not necessary, and sheet trays, parchment paper, aluminum foil… everything you probably already have. I would take elements of dinner I knew my family loved. Lasagna. I would make FOUR batches at a time. Usually using a 8 X 13 baking dish. I had cooked down 2 pkgs of mushrooms, and 2 packages of different kinds of italian sausages, hot and sweet. Add 2 jars of preferred sauce, prepare noodels as directed. When you bring them out of the water spray them with olive oil non stick, and lay them on your clean cutting board. This will allow them to cool, not stick to each other and be easier to handle. Now, make FOUR lasagnaS! On the 3 you’ll freeze, write the date you made, what it is, cooking directions and you’re set! The next time you want lasagna, walk to the freezer in the the night befoere, put in the fridge, take it out and let it sit on the counter about 30 minutes, then start cooking. Wow… add a salad and crusty bread… dinner is done.

    I have also learned that just because I make it doesn’t mean anyone will eat it but me. So, I’ve learned to cook for myself. My husband travels for work, the college kid has a life, so, It’s easier to go to the store, grab some fresh veg, some grass-fed beef, some instant brown rice and with I have in the pantry, boom… stir fry.

    It really is about sitting down, figuring out everyone’s schedules, ASK “ARE YOU GONNA BE HERE FOR DINNER?” My rules after this are:

    1) what the heck in is my freezer? I have chicken parts for making stock, some pearl onions, ground chicken, beef for stir fry, fresh/frozen stir fry veg, frozen pizzas, single serve sides, and way too many ice cream treats to admit! LOL In the fridge, yes… the leftovers exist, in dated, containers, with the ingredients inside. I BBQ’d a burger for college girl, have no idea if she ate it. There’s soup, I’ve been eating for 3 days, it’s gone tomorrow. That’s all the leftovers. That’ astounding me, who use to cook enough for my three girls, husband, and my girls’ friends who all statyed around because they got fed. It wasn’t easy, but I would much rather take the take, search for new recipes, go to the store every other day or so, make something I know I’ll like and the hubby will like and if the college kid wants to eat, there’s food in there… typical dorm food, cause you never know when she’ll be here. In my new diet changes, I’m proud to announce that my husband’s health is dramatically improving!! His blood sugars are down, his cholesterols and tryclycerides are down, the HDL are up and he just had to have his new slack in bought in january taken in two sizes, and he lost a shirt size. I’m so proud! So, making sure not waste, may mean, your cainets don’t have to be bursting at teh seems with food. 1) Menu 2) grocery list with things on menu 3) add necessary cleaning supplies. When you go to the store do NOT deviant from the list, regardless of whether you have a couple for buy 2 get 1 free, you only need 1. The others will either sit, or your bodies won’t apprecate it, becuase that couple is probably for a processessed food. 3) stay away from processessed when possible. If it’s WHITE, it’s processed. I make my own breads, I buy breads from local bread markets, I use natural sugar (brown, also known as turbinado) in my coffee, it’s natural. Heck even my potatoes are no longer white, they’re Yukon Gold, Purple, Red… It’s all in the planning and sticking to the plan. I know I’m now rambling so I’ll close. It’s early here. LOL On my first cup of natural coffee! Have a great day and thanks for the article. I hoped in my ramblings I’ve helped someone!

  5. Well, I am JUST EXHAUSTED after reading Melisa’s post above, so I will keep my comment short & sweet, LOL!;)
    Those veggie trimmings that you are throwing away

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