This year's goal is to reduce my food waste. It amazes me how much food goes bad in my house. And I think I'm pretty good at planning and eating up leftovers!
The biggest issues I have now are:
- Using my freezer
- Eating things out of my freezer
For some reason, I have loads of condiments both in the pantry and the refrigerator. Some I use on a regular basis - like soy sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar. Not a problem. But then there are others like white balsamic vinegar, deli style spicy mustard and an array of Asian items. Things I bought for one particular dish and probably never used again.
I have been making an effort to freeze items I won't use BEFORE they go bad. I made corn chowder and a lentil pasta sauce recently. Both really yummy, but too much to eat. Before they went the way of the science experiment, I froze them. Of course, I also tossed a few things that didn't make it to the freezer in time. You win some you lose some! To help me with this one, I find I need to have loads of freezer containers around. I use glass mostly, either mason jars or jars from pickles, apple sauce or spaghetti sauce. Marking them is key too - I have found that a dry erase marker works wonderfully on a metal lid!
This leads to issue #3 - eating food from the freezer before freezer burn sets in. My freezer is stocked! Time to start eating.
I have come to the conclusion that I need to plan my meal sizes better. We are ending up with too many leftovers. I try to get creative with the leftovers. I'm not big on reheating the same meal - and neither is my family. I try to think of the leftovers as ingredients for something else like pizza toppings or add-ins to pasta.
My latest creation is fried rice! I made some the other night with leftover brown rice, eggs, leftover veggies and the most usual array of Asian condiments. I had little bits of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. So I mixed them with a little rice vinegar and fresh ginger. It was pretty tasty! And I eliminated 2 of my random condiments. Now I will say right up front - the picture at the top is NOT mine. Honestly, it tasted WAY better than it looked!
There are great resources on the web and pinterest. Some of the most helpful to me are:
All Recipes - you can enter the ingredients you want to use up and they will suggest recipes
Love Food Hate Waste - great information on the food waste problem and how to combat it
Still Tasty - for each category of food, there is detailed information on how long it is good for and the best way to store it.
It is amazing what you can come up with with a little effort. Now I just need to work this into my weekly routine.
How do you deal with food waste?
Top Photo Used under Creative Commons License. Credit Jerry Wong via Flickr.