Wasted Food Wasted Money

It has been estimated that 35 million tons of food go to waste in America each year. The most threatening results of this are:

-Methane gas release into the environment from landfills containing rotting food; contributing to greenhouse gas admissions

-Money loss by individuals who throw out food, estimated at $1,500-$2,400 a year for a family of four.

Even if the damage to the ecosystem doesn’t rattle you, this much money out of your pocket should.
How do you limit your food waste?

1. Only buy enough perishable items to get you through 1 week of meals
-Plan meals ahead so you know roughly what and how much you will use

2. Use leftovers in new dishes
-Example:
Day 1= baked fish with corn on the cob and steamed green beans
Day 2= fish tacos, using leftover baked fish, with cabbage, tomatoes and avocado
Day 3= barbecue chicken, onion, zucchini, pepper and mushroom skewers
Day 4= frittatas with diced leftover chicken and veggies

3. Use up everything perishable before you buy more

-Inventory what food you already have and use this to plan meals, only buy additional items as necessary to supplement.

-Get creative with random food items; think Food Network show “Chopped”!
Example: All you have in the refrigerator is 1 leftover baked sweet potato, eggs, and carrots … Make sweet potato pancakes! Take the skin off the sweet potato and mash in bowl with 1 egg and grated carrot. Add 1/4 cup flour, optional cinnamon and salt. Heat oil in skillet and scoop 1/4 cup mixture at a time into skillet. Flatten into a cake and cook about 3 minutes a side, until browned and firm.

-Whatever produce and/or meat that may be left at the end of the week can always be made into a soup or stew. I call this “kitchen sink soup”
Recipe: Add chopped veggies (root veggies, such as potatoes, parsnips, turnips etc, will add more hardiness to the soup), leftover meat or beans, (what else?) and spices of choosing into a large pot or Crockpot. Add water until about an inch covers the food. Cook on medium-low 30 minutes and up to several hours, until veggies are soft.

4. If you do have food about to go bad, preserve it

-Leftovers that did not get eaten and can not be used before they go bad: Freeze them! You can pull them out later that month when you do not feel like cooking

-Whole produce can be frozen too. Depending on the type, you may want to cut them up, take out seeds or stems, and/or blanch them, meaning quickly boil them to al dente (place in boiling water for only a few minutes, then stop them from cooking longer by placing them in ice water to cool).

-Drying and canning are other options for preservation. Removing moisture and/or oxygen from the food will prevent spoilage. IMG_20140921_205250_125

Resources:
Tufts Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy. Summer 2014, 15(2).