Food Waste Friday – A Pledge to Do More

Sad..these are obviously from about six months ago. Got forgotten about in the back of the pantry.

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.

Leftovers in the freezer from a holiday cookie exchange. Again, forgotten about and really, we just had way too much!

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?

1 comments
Noemi
Noemi

Great post! Before I overhauled how my family ate, I used to throw away about 25% of the food I bought each week, as well as restaurant left-overs. Now I (almost!) never throw away food, I only go to the grocery store once per week, and I have decreased our grocery bills by half. I buy in bulk (with caution), treat left-overs as the good friends they are, and ask for a "to go box" every time we go out to eat. I plan our meals so that weekends and most lunches are times to eat left-overs or "pantry meals", where I look at what we have (especially what may go bad), and serve it. Its not always pretty or uniform, but its healthy and diminishes waste. I have found that saving money goes hand in hand with saving time and calories. Keep up the good work and I will continue to follow your blog!

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  1. [...] If you decide not to get something, put it back where it belongs, especially if it is refrigerated. No need to waste food unnecessarily. Consider it a Random Act of Kindness or a pay-it-forward kind of a thing to help out a store [...]