We’ve been doing much better in the food waste area these last few weeks but still have a ways to go. These pictures are actually from a few weeks ago but still relevant enough to talk about.
Since I first picked up a copy of American Wasteland , included it in the Tasty Books Book Club and found the blog, The Frugal Girl, who has chronicled her weekly food waste quotient for the last few years, I have become a whole lot more conscious of the amount of food waste we contribute within our own family. Not just what we have at home but also what we have when we go out to eat or are at other families’ homes.
I thought it might be a good idea to write down some guidelines for our family to think about when we’re making food purchase and serving decisions. It’s still a bit of a work in progress but I wanted to share it with you so that hopefully you’ll consider something similar for your own family:
MEAL PLANNING MAGIC’S FOOD WASTE PLEDGE
* I will take only what I think I will eat. At home, I know that I can usually go back for seconds. When I am out to eat, I will consider how hungry I really am and order an appropriate amount or consider sharing a meal. If I have leftovers I will take them home (and not feel too embarrassed or cheap that I’m taking something home!)
* I will compost as much as I can and if I don’t know what I can compost I will find out. (search online for a Master Composter class in your area—you can learn a lot and usually it’s free or not that much! Or start here for some online research http://www.howtocompost.org/)
* I will use my five senses to determine if something has gone bad and not solely rely on expiration or use by dates. Yes, use your nose to smell, hands to touch or squeeze, eyes to look at color or texture, mouth to taste a bit to see if it’s gone bad and ears to hear if something doesn’t have that fresh sound (like the crunch of a vegetable or the pop of a can opening). Many times just because it is has gone past a manufacturer’s expiration date does not mean it needs to be tossed!
* I will accept the answer to not buy more of something I’m asking for if we already have similar food at home. This one is especially for the kids—at least mine!–who will ask to buy more snacks or items from the grocery store when I know we already have some at home. More food in means it’s more likely to have food waste.
* I will check for leftovers before making or buying a new meal (really helpful for lunches!). My family is famous for making something new instead of investigating what might already be prepared and just needs to be heated up (or not) and served!
* I will try to buy in bulk whenever I can, but I will be reasonable about it. If I’m buying from the bulk bins, I will buy exactly what I need. If I’m shopping at a wholesale club I will consider the quantity I’m buying and try to share with another family if I won’t be able to use up the larger amount before it spoils.
* When I want a snack I will look for fruit & veggie options instead of instinctively opening the pantry first. I’m planning on making up a fridge inventory to help with this (see below for details!)
I am open to additional suggestions and will be making this up in a “prettier” format so you can print out and have your family agree to it if you like. I’m also working on a refrigerator inventory system similar to my freezer inventory sheet. My husband says that since I do the majority of the food shopping, he often forgets what is in the refrigerator. And because opening the refrigerator often to look and see can be energy wasting, I’m hoping a quick glance at the weekly inventory will help! Any input is welcome.
I hope you’ve been inspired these last several weeks to think about the food waste in your home. How’s your food waste quotient these days?