“I’m HUUUUUUUNGRY! Mommy, where are the crackers we just got at the store?” I had two bags of groceries in the house and four still to go.
Me: Hmmmmm, let’s look! Here are the blackberries – what about some of those?
Youngest: No, thank you. I’d rather have the crackers. It must be in one of the bags in the car, he said leaping from the counter onto the floor and racing to the car.
Me: Ummm…ok. (cringing to myself) Let me get them in and we can look.
He was gone.
Youngest: I’m reeeeeeealy hungry. I’m looking now…
When I got to the car, he was searching in earnest. Gently unpacking things to get to the bottom of each bag. He re-packed the bags after he found the crackers, but by the time we got them into the house, it was time to go pick big brother up. Groceries will have to wait on the counter. Desperate to stop wasting groceries, I decided something had to give.
I have my own
weirdness eccentricities that lead to wasted produce. My parents lived through the Great Depression; they are hoarders save everything. When I go to the store, I pick that special something – the organic berries let’s say. And they are so special and so delicious – that I will save them for the perfect time.
You have kids; I have kids. You and I both know there is no perfect time. I don’t even know, hypothetically speaking, when a perfect time would be.
I may as well just buy them and toss them in the trash. Then I could avoid cleaning up the mess in the fridge after they ooooze and grow fur.
So I’ve developed a few tips that help me to stop wasting food.
I Stop Wasting Food Before I Shop
- Make a List. I know it sounds simplistic, but we all know it makes a difference. Make. The. List.
- Better yet, base your list on a fabulous weekly meal plan. I know, I know. I used to refuse to commit to a weekly meal plan as well. It seemed like too much work and then I surrendered. Because. Kids. Time. Sanity. I love a flexible meal plan each week that accommodates all our preferences and needs due to food allergies and sensitivities. It is worth its weight in GOLD!
- Try to postpone shopping for one or two more days past the day you think you need to shop. I find that I can become really resourceful at using what I have if I wait that extra day or two before shopping again.
- If you can’t squeak out another family dinner, can you make a lunch for the kids from what’s in the fridge for one more day?
- This tip really allows you to get creative! Any produce that you have left that’s no longer ideal for serving on its own can easily be used in soups, stews, smoothies, muffins, casseroles, stir-fries, or frittatas. It may not be ready to toss!
Stop Wasting Food While You’re Shopping
- We all know this – SWH (the close cousin of DWI) leads to disaster. Every. Single. Time. Don’t know what SWH is? Shopping. While. Hungry. How many times has it gotten you into trouble? I can’t count mine.
- SWH leads to impulse purchases. And let’s just say I know of no one who has “impulse purchased” cabbage or brussels sprouts. I speak from experience.
Once You’re Home You Can Reduce Waste
The moment I arrive home with the groceries is the moment when any system in place breaks down. Getting the groceries in the door and organized is always a game of “Whack a Mole.” I keep whacking all the distractions until I’ve either forgotten what I was doing or just completely give up and let the groceries sit out for too long. Or maybe life happens and they stay in the car too long!
Particularly with berries and leafy greens, getting them into the fridge ASAP makes several days difference in their shelf life.
- If you buy in bulk or buy things on sale, it’s a great time and money saver. Obviously meat freezes, but we also freeze bread. Then we can pull it out by the slice as we need it. Our toaster has a “defrost” button on it, so it makes toasting it right out of the freezer really easy!
- Did you know you can freeze shredded cheese? We minimize dairy and gluten and so freezing these items saves a lot of waste for us! If you have items like this – see if you can split a purchase with a friend or neighbor if it isn’t something that freezes well. If you have enough that you want to freeze, investing in extra freezer storage is well worth it!
2 Most Important Things to Stop Wasting Food Right Now
This next tip can be life changing. When I do this – waste is minimized and my week just goes more smoothly. But I’ll confess, I don’t always get this done. I’m a work in progress.
- If you can prep your meat and produce for the week’s meals before you put it away, it’s life-changing. I kid you not. It’s like being Bobby Flay and your chef’s kitchen is ready for you to “whip up dinner!” When I get this one step done – it’s life changing.
- I’m also a
dementedparticular about how I store things in the refrigerator. When I don’t know something is there or I can’t see it – that’s a one-way ticket to waste-ville. I basically organize my refrigerator this way to keep things as fresh as possible. You always know where everything is if there is a set organization to your fridge. If it’s not on the second shelf, you need to be able to add it to your grocery list and not search any longer.
You Can Do This!
I know it can feel overwhelming and time-consuming – but these tips will quickly become a habit if you work at them for thirty days. You can even take one tip at a time. I’d love to hear any other suggestions that you have, ideas that work for you, about how to minimize the food that is wasted in your home!
Now when I get the groceries home, they get prepped for the week and right into the correct spot in the refrigerator. Most of the time 😉