Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday's tips: Reducing food waste to save money

Alright, so I've been experimenting with weekly theme posts, even if you haven't noticed. That's right, those lovely finds on Flickr? You can expect that every week because I plan to bring you weekly inspiration every Monday with my Flickr Finds posts. But that's not all folks. I'm hoping to bring you weekly tips on Thursdays with a new feature called Thursday's Tips (oh, hello Mr. Alliteration, so nice to see you again.)
Everyone is trying to save money these days, even if you aren't planning to fund a wedding in the near future. For someone like me, who loves buying and cooking food, it can be difficult to save money when there are so many amazing recipes out there just begging to be tried. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to buy all the ingredients and only using a portion. Or buying the ingredients and forgetting to make the recipe until some of the ingredients have spoiled.
Alejandra Ramos, who writes a fun blog called "Always Order Dessert," has this to say about food waste: "Americans throw away 50% more food today than they did back in 1974. How awful is that? Not only is 50% more food going to waste, a lot of money is also being tossed away along with the slimy parsley and shriveled carrots."
Having just thrown away a bag of potatoes attempting to colonize the bottom shelf of my pantry and about half a bag of slimy spinach, I see where she's coming from. And it times like these, when there are people all over the world who would kill to eat that rotting spinach and lack of money is glaring even well-off individuals in the face, it's even more important to cut down on food waste.
Alejandra offers 10 tips to help you on the way to cutting your food waste. If you're like me, the thought of implementing so many new behaviors at once is a little daunting. So I suggest going to her post and picking two or three (or just one - every bit counts) that you can start doing right now. Then slowly working the rest in.

The easiest tip for me, and her number one recommendation, is "To become a Grocery Day Prep Cook." When you buy fresh food, part of what you should do you do when you get home is to prepare those foods to last as long as possible and to prep them so it is easier to eat them when you're busy. Like cutting up an onion so you don't have to do it later. Or wash your lettuce, dry it and then store it in a sealed container with paper towel. The number one enemy of most fresh produce is moisture. Drying your fruits and veggies thoroughly and then storing them with a paper towel to absorb the natural moisture that they release is the best way to keep them around for days and even weeks.

I happen to have a bunch of Tupperware's FridgeSmart line because my mother is a huge fan and a Tupperware consultant.

Last night, the fiance bought grapes and spinach. Both were washed and patted dry.

Both went into their own FridgeSmart containers lined with paper towels.

But, you don't need FridgeSmart to have healthy and happy veggies last in your fridge. Wrapping leaves in paper towel and then stowing them in a gallon-sized resealable bag will do the trick just as well.

My second tip that I'm trying to do is Alejandra's number 8: "Keep a Reverse Grocery List." Basically, you should just keep track of what you have instead of what you don't have. That way, you obviously will know what you need, but also not forget that there is oatmeal hiding on a top shelf or carrots tucked behind the beer (this happened once to me and created some creepy looking carrots). It's actually been pretty helpful, and has caused me to become a better menu planner. It's much easier to just look at a list to see what I have (and imagine new meals to make with those available foods) then to root around the fridge and pantry looking for something that might not be there or just going to the store and buying something when you had a perfectly good meal waiting for you to put together from what you had at home.

Good luck with saving money and reducing food waste, my faithful readers!


  1. i remember when i used to do the prep to make food last when we were living in the apartments, but i have since gotten increasingly lazier/ more tired that by the time i get home from school, work, and the grocery store i give up and open a can of soup. i cooked so much more last year when i just had the job than i do now. but i loved the tips- especially the "what you have" list as opposed to the "what you need" list. Thanks :)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing my tips with your readers! I'm really excited that so many people have found them helpful. I've realized how making even just one or two small changes really do make a big difference by the end of the week.