Use it or Loose it!

This sounds so ominous, but food waste is a huge problem in this country and in our homes.  By definition, food waste is the “uneaten food and food preparation wastes” and includes household as well as retail foods.  At our house food waste is usually in the form of refrigerated items that turned green as they grew mold and bacteria, foods that were dated and had reached their expiration, and fresh fruits and vegetables that were buried in the bottom of the crisper and their remains removed with gloves.  In some homes, food waste may also include whatever isn’t eaten at the end of the meal, leftovers!

Food waste is very dependent upon the “waster.”  When I was a young mom my mother-in-law saved everything and served it for lunch or dinner the next day.  I thought it was extreme at the time, but why waste any food when we all have to eat and we cannot afford to “waste” money at the grocery, right?  You may think it’s easier to throw leftovers away rather than saving and storing them, but it’s easier to save a leftover than it is to shop, purchase, and prepare more food.  If you freeze your leftovers it’s like a new meal in a week.

Nationally, food waste is a serious problem for our environment.  It not only impacts our garbage, it effects our landfills.  Wikipedia cited, food scrap represents 19 percent of the waste dumped in landfills and that wasted food rots and produces methane gas.  The impact of food waste is enormous socially, economically, and environmentally.

THE IMPACT OF FOOD WASTE IS ENORMOUS SOCIALLY, ECONOMICALLY, AND ENVIRONMENTALLY!!!!!

Financially, food waste can really impact us and our budget.  According to a 2004 University of Arizona study, 14-15 percent of US edible food is untouched or unopened. Wow, that is a lot of food.  If you are the “average” family purchasing $9252 of food each year…that is more than a month’s worth of groceries.   It is just mind-boggling to think we throw away more than a month’s worth of food each year.

So there’s the problem – now let’s talk about how we can reduce the waste in our home?

1.   Don’t buy it in the first place.  Yes, quit purchasing food without a plan.  Don’t bring it home if you don’t have a plan to use it.  For years I went to the store and bought everything I thought I might need, just in case, to avoid planning my shopping trip and to avoid making additional trips to the grocery.  That’s just stinkin’ thinkin’.  Spend 10 minutes (with MealEssence or an hour without MealEssence) planning your meals and menus for a set time period, then go to the grocery and purchase only what you need.  If you use MealEssence.com you will easily plan a week of meals in 10 minutes and you can save even more time with our grocery list that is in store order and comprehensive!

2.   Paradigm shift.  Think of the food in your house as a resource.  Then think of it as a precious resource.  Change your attitude toward food waste.  Go green in the kitchen, be a recycler.  Think of ways to use the food you have so you don’t have to purchase more.  Think of it as a savings plan – the more food you save the more money you save.

3.   Teach your children not to waste their food.  Children may be the worst offenders of food wasting, choosing what they will and will not eat.  Teach your child at an early age that food is valuable, and costly, and we need to eat all of what we have.   We often make wise choices at the grocery and offer fresh fruits and vegetables but later “give in” to letting our kids choose the less healthier choices just so they eat.

4.   Portion control.  If a recipe calls for 8 servings and we have a family of four we often follow the recipe instead of adjusting it to the amount we need.   We live in a super sized world with a lot of super sized parents and children.  Now is the time to take control of our portions.  Waste can also include overeating.

I read an article that found bananas were the most wasted food with milk coming in second.  Bananas should never go to waste because they can be frozen whole with the skin at any stage of ripeness, then used for baking banana breads, cakes, or muffins.  As for the milk, we purchased milk by the gallon for many years, and as our family shrunk we continued to buy gallons of milk and we were having to throw away expired milk.   Now we purchase 1/2 gallons.  Note:  milk is easily frozen and used later.  You can even freeze and drink it later.  So the next time you go on vacation and have a full gallon of milk just put it in the freezer and allow about 24 hours for it to thaw when you return.  It works!!

This blog should make you think about wasting food.  You may have some great ideas of your own for eliminating food waste so please share them with us.

We would love to hear from you!

-Sheri

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