Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 16: Waste not, want not.

When I first decided to commit to my Spending Fast and then to write this blog, I immediately went to my very sweet friend Emily because 1. She's one of the most supportive people in the UNIVERSE... Seriously, you should all be so lucky to have an Emily. and 2. She also has less than great spending habits (Sorry to call you out, dude...but the weekly manicure/polish change has

((during the "good old days" when I mindlessly spent. plus she's cute and I'm vain.))

She was super excited and encouraging, as I expected her to be. Then almost immediately she asked if I could post about how to not waste so much food. (See what I mean? She's a great idea giver and sounding board too!)

So here we are! 3 weeks in and, after doing some Google research, I've discovered some seriously horrifying stats. According to Business Insider, the average American family of four throws away $2,275 worth of food yearly! 

Could I really be throwing away over five hundred bucks a year?!
Alright, let's relax. As HUGE as that number is, in order to make big changes, we've got to take the first step.

Here's a small list of ways to cut back on wasting food (to be added to as I learn what works for me, of course!)

1. Meal Planning 
We've talked about it before, but it really is an easy way to organize in multiple ways. It helps you keep an inventory of your pantry/fridge, it forces you to make shopping lists for that week's meals, and you can plan for leftovers. If you plan ahead, you'll only buy what you need!

2. Don't buy in bulk
I know, I know. Those savings seem like a great reason to buy the gallon jar of mayo or 10 cans of soup in August! Or even a slightly more reasonable route, like the 3-pack of green peppers. But if you live alone like me, the peppers (or bag of apples or family-sized hummus) are most likely not going to get eaten before they go bad. Then you've actually paid MORE than you would have if you had just gone ahead and bought the smaller package! 

3. Utilize your freezer
Cut up fruit that's getting soft, put it in the freezer, and use it in smoothies! I like to put brown and squishy bananas in there to keep on hand for a quick sweet treat or to whip up banana bread (Ok, so I haven't actuallyyy baked that bread yet, but I have a half a dozen naners in there waiting...) Make big batches of chili, separate into single servings, and freeze!

4. Ignore expiration dates 
This was news to me! Who hasn't done the smell check on week old deli meat? Apparently, expiration dates are more like "Best if Used by" dates rather than "You're Going to Die if you Consume this" dates. I've started looking up questionable items such as milk and eggs. But I've found most items are still perfectly safe a number of days past their prime.

5. Rearrange the fridge every week
Bring the oldest items to the front. Put all the newest items towards the back and you'll run less of a risk of finding a head of lettuce growing a new species in there.

6. Remix leftovers

This is pretty self explanatory, but certainly deserves a mention. Just last week I made a crock pot of shredded chicken and had 3 different dinners. Also, brown rice and black bean leftovers are a staple in my house. Those can be tossed into anything! Also see: Rice&Beans Ideas from Andthenwesaved !

7. Sometimes you have to eat things you just don't want to
I almost never want to open the cans of tuna that I keep buying and sticking to the back of the cabinet. Same goes for the canister of oatmeal I don't remember buying. You have just suck it up, cut the bad parts off the onion, throw those wrinkly cherry tomatoes into a stir-fry, and call it dinner. 

That was certainly long winded! But necessary! 

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