Guest post from Abigail of They’re Not Our Goats
I thought I was pretty good at avoiding food waste, until I cleaned out my fridge a couple weeks ago.
Ugh. Do I really have a science experiment growing on the back of the bottom shelf?, I thought to myself. Why yes, yes I did. I found myself disgusted with the amount of food I had let slide past my attention.
While it was a disheartening cleaning session, I finished with renewed vigor to cut back my waste — and hey, maybe save a few bucks at the same time!
Is food waste a problem in your house too? Here’s how you and I can put less food in the garbage and more in our bellies.
1. Keep stock of what you’ve got.
Knowing what you have on hand is half the battle. Consider the following:
- Keep leftovers dated and visible so you always use the oldest food first.
- Make an inventory of your freezer/pantry.
- Shop your inventory regularly so you don’t let usable food go by the wayside.
2. Use & re-purpose leftovers.
Don’t dispose of perfectly edible food. An untouched kid’s plate should be saved rather than tossed, and the bottom of the pot can be given new life.
- Eat leftovers for lunch instead of eating out or buying sandwich fixings.
- Try your hand at “planned-over” meals — ones in which you purposefully use the leftovers from your first meal to serve as the base for the second.
- Turn leftover veggies and meat into soups, stews, casseroles, omelettes, and stir fries. A half cup of steamed broccoli is a welcome addition to the breakfast frittata, and taco meat can easily be thrown into a pot of chili. Be creative!
3. Preserve the extras.
- Use ready-to-expire fruit for smoothies, breads, muffins, popsicles, and juice.
- Freeze extra meat, veggies, and fruit before they reaches their life expectancy.
- Learn how to preserve extra produce while it’s in season (and on sale) by water bath canning, pressure canning, or dehydrating.
4. Put your scraps to work.
- Throw your coffee grounds, apple cores, washed eggshells, and fruit and vegetable scraps into the compost bin to become great food for your plants and flowers.
- Use your chicken bones for homemade stock, pan drippings for gravy, and vegetable cooking water in place of regular water in soups. You’ll get lots of flavor and nutrition out of a minimal labor.
With a little planning and extra effort, we can save a lot of food from the garbage, keep more money in our pockets, and hopefully keep our fridges a little cleaner too!
What are your creative ways to avoid food waste?
Abigail is an aspiring homesteader, homeschooler, music-maker, and birth doula. She lives with her husband and soon-to-be-three children on her acre-and a half homestead in scenic Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog about living the homegrown life (and seeking contentment while doing it) at They’re Not Our Goats.