Thursday, November 20, 2014

15 Tips for limiting food waste

I heard a few statistics on the radio a few day back.

The EPA estimates 35 million tons of food waste a year….and 40-50% comes from consumers from home food waste(spoiled, spilled, wasted food).
see even the bowl is licked clean at our house!(these were kale chips)

This got me thinking…..that is a lot of food!!  That is a lot of food waste…a lot.

Have you ever seen the amount of untouched, uneaten food that is dumped into the trash can at a school cafeteria, or even taken note of what is wasted at your house?   Have you seen what is tossed into the trash at a restaurant when people leave food on their plates.  It is astounding!  Not to mention the grocery stores expired food, farmers who can’t sell the food(lets hope they have a recyclable farm and give it back to the animals!)

So here are my tips on limiting food waste:  Feel free to comment and add your tips too!
1.   PLAN-keeping meal plans helps you only get what you need at the store.
2.  Eat seasonally-eating fresh fruits and vegetable that are in season help you to plan meals and keep food cost down.  Hit the farmers market up for great deals!
3.  Re-purpose leftovers…other than soup(and maybe a few others items), you can usually turn leftovers into new dishes with minimal effort…most everything can become a nourishing soup.  (Left over beef-beef and veggie soup, beef burritos, beef and broccoli stir fry, shredded bbq beef: chicken can go in to everything-chicken soup, salad, burritos, on pizza, bbq chicken, chicken spaghetti etc.  Just figure out what you can turn it into.)
4.  Teach children (and adults) to respect food and that throwing food out is not acceptable.  My kids know that if they don’t eat it for lunch-they bring it home and eat it later or we turn into something else.  Children that come to our house and often surprised when I make them finish the apple after only taking two bites and then telling me they don’t want it.
5.  If you do go to a restaurant, take doggie bags and on the way home, give it to a homeless person(I know in my city I see one on just about every corner!!!!)
6.  Leftovers for lunch!  Easy peasy-if you make enough the night before, it becomes lunch the next day!
7.  Use every part of the animal(pork fat turns into lard, chicken bones turn into nourishing bone broth with gizzards and liver, pigs feet and kidneys make stock for the dogs and cats in our house).
8.  Save and freeze(and label) bits and pieces of things to make soups(a cup of chicken, a few beans-after a few of this and that in the freezer, you have enough for chicken chili soup!)
9.  Use the ends of carrots, celery and onion and save them in a freezer bag for your chicken stock instead of tossing them out(or instead of using whole carrots, celery and onions)
10.  Soup, soup, soup…taco soup, chicken soup, bean soup, lasagna soup, egg drop, bbq soup you get the idea-left overs make great soup!
11.  Put the things that need to be used up first in the front of the fridge so you can see them!  Sometimes you might get some weird combinations(like grain free pizza, collards with ham and chicken soup-but hey it worked for us!)
12. One day a week, usually Friday for us, I pull out what all needs to be used from the fridge and make a dish with the remaining ingredients or eat leftovers.  I do this Friday because Friday and Saturday are my large shopping days.  Also make a note to pull out the bags of goodies from the freezer once or twice a month and clean the freezer to make meals!
13.  Compost and get chickens and rabbits!  Chickens are natures way of cleaning up and eating stuff we don’t(unless it is rotten and spoiled)…I give them everything to scratch through and eat.  Well I actually put in on my compost pile and let them turn my pile for me by scratching at the peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, and other raw scraps I have. They love pumpkin/winter squash guts, any leafy green.  Chickens are carnivores, they scratch for bugs and worms all day(and lizards too!)  But I don’t put meat on my compost pile, just veggies.  As far as cooked food-I lay our a bowl in the morning of meat, grains, cooked veggies or what ever was left over from the day before and they usually eat all of it(except bread crust-mine don’t eat bread crust)  And rabbits…our rabbits  eat apple cores and peels, carrot tops and peels(unless I save for stock), parsley stems.   And in return the chickens give us eggs and the rabbits give us fertilizer for the garden!
14.  Also it helps that if you pay for high quality food you DON’T want to waste it.  Cheap food is easy to throw out-but if you pay 18-25$ for a whole chicken, you better believe that I am going to use every piece of meat and the bones !!!
15.  It also helps if you  'know a guy' who will eat ANYTHING and you need to clean out your fridge once a week! Right JL?:o)

So those are my tips, I am sure there are many more.  Please feel free to share how you limit food waste.

My next goal is to figure out how to take the untouched food from school cafeterias and donate it to food banks!  Any body want to help?

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