3 Hacks to Stop Wasting Food

A 2020 study done by Penn State revealed that U.S. households waste about a third of the food they purchase every year at a cost of $1800 per family. That’s a lot of money and a lot of food going into the compost bin (which is better than the trash, but still).

As our family’s menu planner, shopper, and chef, I wanted to share 3 hacks to help you save more of your hard-earned money and reduce the amount of food you have to chuck every month or so.

Shop Your Pantry and Refrigerator/Freezer Before Hitting the Store

Take 5 minutes and do a quick inventory of what you already have so you can use what you already have. It makes menu planning so much easier, and you’ll end up buying less at the store. If you have pasta and a jar of pesto in the pantry and find a bag of frozen broccoli in the freezer, you might just want to pick up a chicken and white beans.

Pro Tip – At least once every few months, do a deep dive into your pantry and make a list of staples you need to replace. Flour, sugar, baking items, pasta, beans, etc. Purchasing dry goods at a warehouse store or discounted grocery store will save you money as well!

Prep Your Produce

Put greens (kale, spinach, lettuce) and herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil) into jars like flowers in a vase, and they will stay fresh for a week or longer.

Carrots and celery can also be placed in jars of water.

Unstemmed and uncut berries can be dropped into a bath of water with a splash of apple cider vinegar. Rinse gently and place them on a towel or paper towel to dry. To store them, layer paper towels and berries (like lasagne) into a glass dish. Cover the berries with paper towels or a dish towel.

Pro Tip – While convenient, pre-cut veggies and fruits will “turn” more quickly, so make sure that if you purchase these items, they will be consumed within two days of purchase. Also, plan to eat bagged lettuces, arugula, spring mix, and spinach within 3 or 4 days of purchase.

Freezer Management

My mother and the generations before her never used the phrase “batch cooking,” but when they made a pot of sauce, they made enough for leftovers for 3 days and for leftovers to be reheated in 3 months. You can do the same thing. Make two lasagnas, double the batch of soup or stew, and save it in the freezer for a meal at another time. If properly frozen, it will taste even better when you reheat it.

Overripe fruit and berries can be sliced, frozen, and then stored in a Ziploc bag for use in smoothies at a later date.

There are only 2 important things you need to know about freezing food.

  1. Use proper packaging to avoid freezer burn. Freezer bags, foil, and freezer-to-oven-safe dishes are a must.
  2. Label items with the date it’s going in the freezer AND what it is.

Pro Tip: Once a month, do a dig into your freezer. Pull things from the bottom to the top so you can see and use them. Take those multiple bags of frozen corn and place them together in a freezer bag. Throw out anything with freezer burn, or that is unidentifiable.

Reducing food waste saves money and resources. Both of which are important!

Now go run!

Keli šŸ™‚

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