If you hate wasting food and essentially throwing money in the bin, then this post is for you, as I shall be sharing 20 ways that you can stop wasting so much food. I will hold my hands up and admit that I used to be the worst for this. I would go shopping on a Sunday with all good intentions and buy lots of fresh produce and by the end of the week I was having to throw over half of it out, mainly due to poor planning.
It goes without saying that wasting that much food is going to put a big dent in your food budget, so if you are getting healthy on a budget, then lowering your food waste is something you should really try and focus on. Here are 20 ways to do that.
1) Plan Your Meals - I know that not everyone is big in to meal planning and it can be difficult if you have an erratic schedule, but I have found that if I know exactly what I am going to be making throughout the week, then I know exactly what and how much I need to buy, so there is not extra food leftover. Take a look at my post on meal planning.
2) Freeze Your Herbs - Herbs are one of the main things we end up throwing away, because we buy fresh herbs for a meal, use them in that meal and then they get forgotten about. But don't forget about them, as they can be easily frozen and as well as not wasting them, you have fresh herbs on hand to throw in to meals.
3) Freeze Extra Portions - If you have made too much for dinner, instead of going back for seconds (do you really need another portion?) or putting in the fridge "for another time", put it in the freezer and you have a quick meal ready in the week. If you have planned to have it for a meal the next day, then great, but freezing it will ensure it is not wasted and you don't have to eat the same thing 2 days in a row.
4) Make Smoothie Bags - You buy some strawberries and 30 seconds later, or what feels like it, they are going bad. I feel your frustration. If I know I am not going to be able to eat all the fruit I have, then I chop it up and separate it in to portions in freezer bags and then freeze. Then, in the morning I can just throw it in my blender with some milk/water and some kind of protein like nut butter and I have a fast and delicious smoothie and no waste!
5) Don't Always Be Pulled in by a Sale - Seeing fruit and vegetables on offer or reduced is like the holy grail of healthy eating on a budget, but be realistic about what you are actually going to eat. Sure, 40 bananas for the price of 10 is a great offer, but are you going to eat that many bananas?
6) Too Many Bananas? - If you do end up with too many bananas, you can either add them to your smoothie bags, or make banana bread with it and freeze it.
7) Don't Throw Away Stale Bread - If it is covered in mold, then obviously that is a different story. But if it is just a bit past sandwich worthy, then it still has uses. Wizz it up in a food processor to make breadcrumbs or make some croutons with it to give your salads a little crunch.
8) Embrace Frozen Fruit and Vegetables - If you find yourself always wasting fresh fruit and vegetables, then try buying it frozen. Not only does frozen usually work out cheaper, but it is just as nutritious.
9) Cover Up Your Food - If you are putting leftovers in the fridge, then make sure it is stored correctly and has a lid on it -- this will keep it fresher for longer. The same goes for cheese, make sure it is wrapped up properly once you have used some, as it will last a lot longer and your fridge won't smell of cheese.
10) Too many limes and lemons? - Somehow, we always end up with loads of lemons and limes, I guess I just get over excited and buy a lot. We are usually pretty good at using them all up, as they go in a lot of our food, but if we can't use them, then we squeeze the juice in to ice cube trays and freeze it. They go really well in a glass of water, or thrown in to food that is cooking.
11) Leftovers and Eggs Love Each Other - Leftover salsa? Vegetables? A few small bits of different cheeses? Shredded meat? Make a fritatta or omelette with it. It is the ideal meal to use up leftovers.
12) There is Always One Bad Apple - Literally! Once you get back from shopping, check all your fruits and vegetables as sometimes you will get one bad one in the pack/bag and it can ruin them all. This usually happens with apples and strawberries.
13) Shop More Often - I know this isn't an option for some people, but if you can, rather than doing one big shop each week, do a smaller one every 3 days. You will end up with less waste as you are only buying things for the next couple of days. This will also mean that you only need to plan the next 2-3 days meals, rather than a whole week. A good way to ease yourself in to meal planning.
14) Lists Are Your Friend - Keep a list of everything that is in your fridge and freezer, so you know exactly what needs to be used up. This helps because otherwise you might go to the shop and end up buying more things that you don't need, which means even more waste.
15) Know What The Dates On Food Mean - When looking at when your food goes off, make sure you know the difference between sell by, best before and use buy. However, I think that sometimes those dates are used by supermarkets to create more waste, so you have to buy more. So, I always use sight and smell.
16) Use Everything - One of the best ways to lower your waste is to try and use up as much as possible. Cooking a whole chicken? Don't throw away the carcass, use it to make chicken stock to then make your own soup. Also, when chopping up vegetables like carrot and broccoli, don't throw away the ends. Put them in to a freezer bag and keep adding to it. When it is full, you can make vegetable stock with it.
17) Leftover Chicken Makes Great Meals - We always roast a whole chicken, shred it up and use it for meals for the rest of the week. Add it to pasta, Mexican dishes or sandwiches and salads.
18) Make Some Soup - If we have a lot of different vegetables that need using up, then we make a big batch of soup with them. If you can't eat all the soup, then freeze that too.
19) Know Where To Store Things - Knowing what needs to go in the fridge and what can be kept outside of it can help you to lessen your waste.
20) Leftover Wine? - Yes, I did just say leftover wine. I know that is an unheard of thing to some, myself included, BUT, if you do find yourself with *shudder* leftover wine, then again, pour it in to ice cube trays and freeze it and then you can add it to things like risottos.