by Texas Homesteader ~
Reducing waste in the grocery budget is a hot topic right now. Rushed parents and over-scheduled folks are doing the best they can to keep their grocery budget low in these days of high-priced groceries.
But the USDA estimates that between 30% and 40% of our food is ending up in landfills.
I’ve written before about various methods we use to keep our grocery bill low. Links to those posts & more are located at the bottom of this article.
But today I’m talking about making sure you’re fully using the food you’ve already purchased. How can you eliminate wasted or leftover food? Below I’m sharing several tips & additional resources including:
- Only buy what you need.
- Stick to the shopping list.
- Portion-control supper plates.
- Don’t throw away less-than-perfect food.
- Make new dishes with leftovers.
- Proper food storage.
- Keep track of food needing to be used.
Only Buy What You Need To Avoid Food Waste
It’s true that large bag of potatoes is cheaper by the pound, but is it really cheaper if you have to throw many of the potatoes away?
Consider your meal plan and your family’s appetites when buying food to avoid too much being purchased/cooked/leftover/wasted.
Stick To Your Shopping List To Avoid Buying Too Much Food
Do you find yourself picking up impulse items when shopping?
Although it’s sometimes helpful to pick up items on a good sale that you know you’ll be using soon, impulse items are more often a waste of your grocery budget money as well as resulting in food waste.
Inventory Your Refrigerator For Tonight’s Meal
One of the most important grocery budget tips is to use the food you have already purchased.
See what I mean? Use leftovers out of the fridge before they get the chance to go bad.
You can see all my ‘Cooking With Leftovers’ ideas by pressing this button:
Portion Controlled Meal Portions
It’s hard to tell what appetites will be on any given night.
So serve portion-appropriate amounts of food & have other appetite fillers on the table such as pickled okra, cottage cheese, bread or cheese slices to round out the meal.
There are helpful resource links at the bottom of this post to help you know more about food waste.
Remake Less-Than-Perfect Food To Reduce Waste
Take a fresh look at produce going past its prime.
Roasted Tomatoes from softer tomatoes can be made into flavorful sauce.
Potato Cakes or mashed potatoes from potatoes starting to wrinkle.
Remake Leftovers Into A Completely Different Meal
Remake leftovers into a completely different meal.
Leftover Chili Cheese Fries into a delicious frittata
Cold leftover rice into Chicken Fried Rice
Grilled chicken leftovers into Chicken Fajitas
Roasted Vegetables using all those fresh veggies from the veggie tray you had leftover from last night’s dinner party.
Look at leftovers in a new way for a new meal.
Proper Food Storage To Reduce Food Waste
Proper leftover food storage is important to reducing food waste. I store leftovers in the refrigerator in repurposed see-through glass jars.
Storing items in see-through jars means items needing to be used are easily seen on my refrigerator shelves.
- Use half an onion for a recipe? The other half goes in a large-mouth jar in the fridge.
- Need egg yolks for pudding? The egg whites are placed in a jar for incorporation into a future meal.
Because leftovers occupying the fridge are always used quickly there’s not enough overcrowding to have something get shoved to the back and forgotten until it’s too late.
It’s a sure-fire way to help make sure the food you paid for actually gets eaten.
Your Freezer Is Your Friend
And of course if you use the cook-once-eat-twice method of cooking you’re already cooking with the intent of freezing the extra food right away. This eliminates leftovers being placed in the refrigerator in the first place.
Purposely large amounts of food are cooked & sectioned into proper serving sizes, labeled and stored in the freezer. A homemade meal is heat-n-eat easy.
When I found myself with an Abundance Of Fresh Onions, I went ahead and chopped & sautéed them. Then I stored them in a freezer bag in the freezer.
That means when a recipe starts with ‘Chop & sauté onions until translucent’ – I can use these pre-sautéed onions to speed up the recipe. PLUS I’ve eliminated all those fresh onions from going bad.
Just be sure you label your foods & rotate through them quickly so they’re not forgotten or damaged by freezer-burn and wasted anyway!
Keep Track of Food Needing To Be Used
I have a spreadsheet I glance at each morning that shows leftovers to be used, pre-cooked food in the freezer and raw food to be cooked.
Then I use this quick glance for planning tonight’s supper with priority given to refrigerated fresh food first.
Don’t Throw Food In The Trash – Compost It!
We don’t live in a perfect world. Sometimes despite our best efforts, food waste happens.
BUT when food does occasionally get wasted, don’t throw it in the trash. Food in the landfills causes environmental harm.
Instead put it in the compost pile where it can actually still do some good.
Even if you don’t have a garden yourself, your gardening friends (and Mother Nature) will LOVE you for it!
How Do You Eliminate Food Waste?
I’m just sharing a few thoughts on how we keep our wasted food occurrences to a minimum. Your methods may be different.
How do you incorporate leftover items into your food plan to eliminate waste?
Links In This Post:
- Cook-Once, Eat-Twice Method Of Cooking
- Saving Stale Bread Deliciously: French Toast
- Decadent Homemade Chocolate Pudding
- Maple-Flavored Pancake Syrup Quick
- Simple, Fluffy Homemade Pancakes
- Using Glass In The Refrigerator
New Meals Remade With Leftovers
- Planned Leftovers: Easy Slow-Cooker Pork Roast
- How To Quickly Shred Leftover Roast
- Hearty Stew – Quickest Planned Leftover Meal Of All
- Pulled Pork Enchiladas From Leftover Roast
- Planned Leftovers: Carnitas Tacos From Pork Roast
- Chicken Fried Rice Using Cold Leftover Rice
- Leftover Chicken & Zucchini Noodles with Herb Bombs
- Chicken Tortilla Soup From Leftovers
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie Made Easy
- Chicken & Dumplings Using Leftover Chicken
- Leftover Chicken Into Quick Chicken Fried Rice
- Leftover Turkey & Dressing Into Patties
- Leftover Biscuit Dough? Make Cinnamon Rolls!
- Using It ALL – The Art Of Eliminating Leftover Food
- Homemade Meals Every Day – The EASY Way!
…and MUCH MORE!
References & Resources:
Save The Food Guest-Imator helper (Planning food for a crowd)
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