With inflation rearing its ugly head, especially in food prices, it’s time to remember that food going down the drain is money going down the drain.
We love fresh vegetables, but often buy frozen. That way we don’t have to worry about waste & it’s convenient. They make a great quick stir fry as well. We buy fresh veggies and fruit when we know we are going to use them right away. Some last longer than others & we appreciate that romaine lasts longer than iceberg lettuce. Oranges (in the fridge) last longer than bananas, but we buy only the amount of bananas we will eat in a week. There’s always banana bread, etc.
Apples and carrots last fairly long in the fridge as do bell peppers. Potatoes have to be used within a certain amount of time, but rice lasts indefinitely stored with a few bay leaves.
To keep food waste to a minimum, plan meals to use up things you have that could go bad soon. Think of these foods as a puzzle to be solved. That is the main goal of my menu-planning, to use up foods before they go bad.
For example, I see we have quite a few potatoes that need to be used soon. So I need to think of a dish that uses a lot of them. Hmm, we have leftover ham in the freezer & some onions. Ok, I’ll make a casserole using them all with a can of cream of mushroom soup, some milk & a grated cheese topping. We can get 2 meals out of that. Any leftovers after that will be turned into potato soup by adding some milk, more veggies (if I have them) & adjusting the seasonings. I’ve made this casserole before & it was popular. So I know it will work for us. Problem solved!
When you can’t think of a way to use ingredients, try the ingredient search at allrecipes.com. You can plug in as many ingredients as you like & they will show recipes using those ingredients. Even if you don’t use their exact recipes you will get ideas.
Another approach is to have a salad bar/buffet night with leftovers. Or use bits of things to make appetizers on crackers or small slices of bread. Or make soup. I keep a container in the freezer with leftovers that go well in soup. My dh prefers that I freeze almost all our leftovers right after the meal so that we don’t have to remember them in the fridge. That means I pack & freeze everything that can be frozen right away as I clean up the meal. At first I resisted that tactic, but it has saved food (and money) for us many times. Our wasted food is almost nothing with that approach, and we usually have this “fast food” from the freezer when we want it. I’m grateful to have those leftovers as the start of another meal or a complete meal. For example, cooked chicken can be zapped in the microwave & added to the top of a salad for a meal. Or it can be made into quick barbeque sandwiches, etc.
Often I use leftovers in soup. You can add them to canned soups or make your own soup (the best) with bouillon powder (I use Tone’s Beef Base and Chicken Base from Sam’s Club) and seasonings. Soup night once a week can help your budget tremendously. Some people add homemade bread to their soup nights. I don’t have a bread machine, so I make corn bread which we like. If you are combining proteins in the meal, it adds a grain. (Click on “combine proteins” label below this post to see how this adds nutrtition.)
These tricks keep our refrigerator looking pretty empty sometimes, but the freezer is full! I consider that a victory. It also keeps the electric bill down to run your refrigeratoar/freezer that way. When there are almost no leftover containers in the cabinet we know it’s time to eat out of the freezer for a while. lol
For more ways to save on your food bill, click on the label “lower your grocery bill” below this post.