We throw away about a third of our food, and each year tons of food are added to landfills causing the production of toxic methane gases. The foods most often thrown out are bread, vegetables, fruits, and baking ingredients. So, let’s talk about ways to NOT waste food to save dollars spent on food stuffs.
You can avoid food waste by not over shopping, a hard chore when stores are designed to make you buy more. Using a list can help you buy about 40% less. Also if you’re cooking for one or two, try to buy in half portions as much as possible. Buy what you need, not what you think you will eat. A whole bag of lettuce might not actually get made into a salad, so try buying spinach which could be used in a salad but could also be wilted with garlic for a side dish. Bananas are another item that is overbought. Don’t take the whole bunch but break off two or three. (Bananas keep longer if they are separated.). Finally, don’t throw out old or stale food. Leftovers can be frozen for later lunches or snacks, older food can be combined in a soup, stale bread can be used for bread crumbs, croutons or to feed the birds—saving on buying bird seed. Check out PennyPinchingHints.com’s article on making meals go further.
One of the best ways to avoid food waste is good storage.
- Looking at vegetables, potatoes and carrots should be stored in a dark dry place at room temperature or below, and dirty veggies keep better than those that are cleaned. In fact, all vegetables that are not root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beets, etc. are best kept in the refrigerator in bags.
- For breads, freeze sliced bread for quick toast right from the freezer or for lunch sandwiches; made in the morning they are fresh and good to eat by noon. Freeze other bread in tin foil and when you want to use it heat in a hot oven for 20 minutes.
- Except for bananas, most fruits do best in the refrigerator, too. Store them in a loose plastic bag with a tie. Apples can also be sliced, dripped in a bit of lemon to keep them from discoloring, and frozen in bags for later use.
- Flour should be frozen in a tied plastic bag after buying. Freeze for 24 hours to rid the flour of flour mites and then take out of the freezer, but leave the plastic bag on the flour to keep your flour from getting damp.
- For lettuce and herbs, grow them in pots on your window sills—the best way to store these for freshness is in soil.
- Cheese also does well frozen. You can buy large blocks of cheese and cut into smaller blocks or grate and freeze.
- And, of course, there are savings in using a vacuum sealing device for storage.
And don’t be sure a food is beyond its prime because of an expiration date or softness and staleness. Foods can be revived.
- Limp vegetables can be revived by sticking their stems in water in the fridge over night.
- Toast stale bread or run a loaf of bread under cold water and then put it in the oven for ten minutes to refresh it.
- Bruised fruits can be cut to eliminate the soft spots and still used.
- Stale cereals can be laid out on a cookie sheet and lightly toasted in the oven. Repackage the cereal afterward in air tight bags to extend its life.
- Even eggs past expiration may well have some life left. To test an egg, put it in a cup of water. If it floats, it’s bad.
All of these ideas can help you delay throwing food out that can be revived or used, and storing foods properly will extend their life. Best of all, buy with care to avoid having too many leftovers or unused food.
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