Flashback to Food Waste Friday

Some of you may remember that I wrote Food Waste Friday posts for almost two years, taking photos of the food that went bad that week and sharing about the process on The Frugal Girl, where she started the habit of taking a photo in an effort to be accountable and waste less. Wasting food is not only bad for your wallet, it’s bad for the environment because rotting food sitting in the landfill creates harmful greenhouse gases.

I stopped doing Food Waste Friday posts about a year ago, but I’m still down with the cause. I’m happy to say that we got into so many good habits that we rarely waste food, and when we do it’s usually produce that goes straight to the compost bin. My husband is on board with using what he refers to as the “slop pot” in the kitchen because the trash doesn’t smell as rotten and he doesn’t have to take it out as often.

Today I came across this article in US News & World Report, which shares Jonathan Bloom’s top 15 tips on how to waste less food. Jonathan is the journalist and blogger who writes the Wasted Food blog and last year published a book called American Wasteland. Jonathan is the go-to expert on the subject of food waste, and I highly recommend checking out his tips. We follow many of them in our household.

I think the things that helped us the most in our effort to waste less food were buying less in the first place, and establishing “zones” in the refrigerator to keep leftovers organized. I wrote about how we successfully began to use up leftovers efficiently in this  post, about creating an “Eat Me” section in our refrigerator.

I encourage you to think about the issue of food waste. Whether your motivation is to save money or save the planet, the results are the same. And it’s all good.

Have you changed your habits with regards to food waste? Please share your tips, advice, and confessions in the Comments section.

Comments

  1. says

    Angela I alwasy thought the EAT ME shelf in your fridge was SUPER inventive! I’ve never bought many groceries because my meager budget won’t allow it. I’m an expert at making soup from whatever I can find. I’ve also come across the burrito pizza concept – top a flattened burrito with any kind of sauce – tomato, white sauce- add leftover veggies and meats and top with a bit of cheese. Often a burrito pizza is a great meal for one and it uses a lot of leftover items!
    😉

    • Angela says

      Hi Tammy! I too am a big fan of soup, and it can end up costing pennies a bowl if it’s made with vegetables. One of my favorites right now is pureed broccoli and potato soup. It’s filling, yet entirely made from vegetables and no butter or cream. It’s delicious.

      My husband is a big burrito maker too! He comes up with all kinds of creative combos with leftovers.

      Thanks for commenting, friend. How have you been?

    • Angela says

      nrhatch, Thanks so much for the link. I find that the healthier I eat, the less I crave junk food or sweets, and at a certain point I don’t even want them at all. I really can’t eat junk food anymore, but it’s not a rule I’ve given myself, I just don’t like it. It smells and tastes horrible to me, I think it’s all the chemical additives.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your links!

  2. Laurie says

    Hello Angela! Your food waste message was timely for me. I just returned from a church activity packing 14000 meals (yes 14,000!) in under 2 hours. These meals will go to parts of the world that have been affected by natural disasters and other problems resulting in hunger. We also did a 3 month Bible study on hunger (who are the hungry, where and why?). Understanding hunger issues drives home being more conscious of our own food waste in more fortunate parts of the world.

    Your “Eat Me” fridge section has helped us change our habits for the better. So keep reminding your readers so we can move forward in making sure food is distributed to the right places and not the landfills.

    Thank you Angela!

    • Angela says

      Laurie, How wonderful that you are involved in sending food to people who are hungry. I strongly agree that understanding hunger around the world can make us more conscious of our food waste. We’ve come a long way from the abstract “eat your dinner because there are children starving in Africa” time, although the idea was coming from the right place.

      So glad the “EAt Me!” section has helped you to waste less, and thanks so much for leaving a comment to let me know!

  3. Marie-Josée says

    This post is very timely. For the past several weeks, my fridge has become engorged by food. Our 21 year old son lives at home, but he is currently eating out and about with friends several times a week. I keep purchasing the same amount of food, because I never know in advance if he will be dining with us. I usually make lunches with the left-over meat or fish that we serve with dinner, but my husband and I end up eating the same leftovers on more than one occasion. I know this sounds really shallow, considering so many people are hungry or struggling to purchase food, but I do try to serve a variety of foods for health reasons. I have many food allergies and intolerances and have come to understand that eating the same foods over and over really contributes to this problem. Fortunately, we have not been wasting food so far. I have turned very ripe pears into compote, wilting greens into a delicious soup etc… I just don’t know how to work around this new reality!

    • Laurie says

      My hubby sometimes works late and I had the same problem with meal planning. Now I keep deli meat on hand so he can fix a quick sandwich. I have learned to let him know what the dinner plan is in advance. If he isn’t there when the meal is ready, he is responsible for feeding himself which means 1. making his own dinner (this might mean re-heating leftovers) 2. eating out or 3 not eating (which never happens). I have found he is better about letting me know his plans and he is also becoming pretty good at cooking meals, too. It’s just the two of us so having large quantities of leftovers can get tiresome.

      Try making some things that are freezable in case it doesn’t get eaten quickly and so it won’t go to waste.

      • Angela says

        Laurie, Thanks for your suggestions for Marie-Josee. My husband and I have a similar system- we each make dinner a few nights a week, but other nights he can make his own dinner with leftovers or sandwich fixings. He’s not helpless in the kitchen and he will eat almost anything so it works for us.

        Marie-Josee, I think the key is to have a range of choices, but not a huge quantity that will go bad. Some things can be frozen so it’s not urgent they be eaten, etc. And it sounds like you’re doing great so far!

        The main key for me is to keep an eye on things and use up what’s about to go bad. The other night I had some kale that wasn’t yellow yet but was a bit wilted, and I made crispy kale and we both ate it up in minutes and wished there was more. It’s so delicious, better than potato chips.

        • Marie-Josée says

          Thank you for your comments. Thankfully, my husband has no problem eating the same leftovers over several days. He is the major reason we don’t wast food – I can always count on him for that. Angela, would you mind posting your recipe for crispy Kale. I’ve been looking forward to making it. Thanks!

  4. Lisa S says

    I’ve really been able to cut down our food waste over the last couple of years to almost nothing. I have a couple of tricks to help with this. First…don’t let the frig get too full or you can’t see what’s in there. I think I’ve always kept to zones in the refrigerator. Second…I’ve gotten really good at adjusting meal sizes. I know how much to cook for my family of 4. BUT, amazingly enough, I think the most useful thing we’ve done is something really simple. It’s in the way we put away our leftovers. Instead of putting all the mashed potatoes in one container, and the veggies in another, and the chicken in another, I put some of each in a pyrex lidded dish like you would put it on your plate. Next day, all you have to do to take your lunch to work is pull the dish out of the frig and heat it up when you’re ready. It’s like a frozen dinner…only not frozen and much healthier cause it’s homemade from (mostly) natural ingredients.

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