Guest post from Keelie of Love Hope Adventure
For several years, I’ve worked hard at not throwing out food. The low waste (or zero waste) kitchen approach I’ve taken has mainly been for the sake of finances. Even though our budget has loosened up over the years, I do these same things because of my convictions to be a good steward with everything I have.
My husband is the director of a food pantry and it’s his job to hand out food that grocery stores would otherwise throw away. Also, we recently, watched the documentary called, Just Eat It. It was about a couple who ate only discarded food for 6 months (did you know that we throw out about 40% of the food that is grown in America every year?!)
A lot of that waste goes straight to the dump from our own tables… however, we try to use everything we have.
Here is what I do to keep from throwing food out:
1. Grocery Shop Once a Month
I do the bulk of the grocery shopping once a month. This allows me to stay committed to eating what we have instead of running out to the store for more ingredients.
When I make a small trip to the store about 2 weeks after the large trip, I only purchase a few things to fill in the gaps in the menu. What I purchase depends on how much is left in our grocery budget for the month.
2. Eat Almost Everything Each Month
Yes, I know this is not the couponer way. In couponing culture, we are taught to have a good stockpile going at all times, so that you can always buy at rock bottom prices. I used to have a stockpile, but once I stopped couponing, that quickly diminished.
I no longer have extra food to rely on. For that reason, everything in the fridge, freezer, and pantry must be used wisely. If something goes bad, it will cause a meal to be short. Since the fridge clears out, it is easy to see all leftovers and eat them before the mold takes over.
At the end of every month, there is very little food anywhere in my house. While I know that is a scary prospect to some, we have an emergency fund that we can use if something were to happen unexpectedly.
3. Freeze Everything That is About to Go Bad
If I can’t cook something before it goes bad, I stick in the freezer. All fruits and vegetable that are starting to turn get chopped up and put in bags or containers.
When it comes to leftovers, I put those in the freezer as well. This makes it easy to grab those later on for quick lunches or dinners, depending on how much is left.
4. Use Leftover Ingredients to Make New Recipes
Rarely do we eat leftovers without using the ingredients to make a new meal. I’m the queen of making “Refrigerator Soup”. There isn’t a real recipe — I simply gather up everything in the fridge or freezer that makes sense flavor wise and throw it in a soup.
The Lasagna Soup I created is a perfect example of one of my refrigerator soup recipes. The first time I made it, it was put together from all leftover ingredients.
5. Save Food From Our Plates
It is hard to know how much your kids are going to eat — even I’m guilty of getting too much sometimes. Instead of throwing out uneaten food, we put back what we haven’t touched.
I’m not ok with eating their extras, because I don’t want to overeat. However, I will save their leftovers for them to eat at another meal.
If we have to throw away excess from their plates a few days in a week, we give them less to eat in the future. As kids grow, their appetites change, so we try to stay flexible. We just start them with less and give a little more if they are still hungry.
6. Compost Fruit and Vegetable Waste
In the documentary, Just Eat It, they explained that throwing food away in plastic bags prevents it from breaking down. Instead of helping our earth, it actually creates methane gas.
It is better to throw the fruits and veggie waste in the backyard and let the animals get it or let it turn to compost.
7. Save Water For Plants and Animals
Most of us are not ok with dumping out milk, juice, and other drinks, but how many times do you pour out water? Instead of dumping water in the sink, we pour it in a pitcher for later use.
I use the water for plants and my dogs drinking water. Even if I didn’t have animals or plants, dumping the excess outside would be more beneficial to the earth then letting it go down the drain.
8. Don’t Use Paper Products
I purchase paper towels on a rare occasion for cleaning up things I don’t want to have to wash later on. We use cloth napkins for meals and hand towels to clean up spills.
While this isn’t food waste, we are still saving on the amount of trash in our cans.
9. Recycle Everything You Can
We haul our own trash to the dump. They do have a place for us to recycle some of our items as long as we sort it. Our kids take the time to sort the recycling every week so we can keep from throwing those things out.
10. Donate What You Do Not Use
On occasion, we are given ingredients that I do not care for. Sometimes, we just have extras. Anything we can’t or won’t eat is sent to the food pantry for others to have a chance to eat.
These are just a few of the things we do in our home to keep a zero waste kitchen.
Over the years we have come up with creative ways to reduce our trash and use the things we have been blessed with to God’s glory.
Keelie is married to her high school sweetheart and is the mom of three awesome boys. She is a creator and loves sharing with the world around her. One of her biggest passions is to help married couples fall deeper in love with one another. You can read her marriage tips, date night ideas, and snag some free printables at Love Hope Adventure.