Every year people waste thousands of dollars in food because it has spoiled. This is a considering fact because it not only wastes families budgets but energy as well. As the population becomes more conscious towards what is being thrown away it seems like food waste is the area where we can do the most good. With better choices and how we get our foods we could make a big difference towards reducing waste and saving money.
Plan it out
Our first stop at reducing waste is not purchasing unnecessary items. As a family on a budget it would be in your best interest to complete a weekly meal plan. A weekly meal plan allows you to have a grocery list that is specific and meets all of your needs for that week. This will cause less over spending as well as a focus towards healthy food. The weekly meal plan may take a little time to prepare, however, you will save time over the week because you don’t have to worry about what to make for dinner.
When you have a weekly meal plan you should also consider your left over food. Are you going to reuse that food by taking it with you to work for lunches or are you going to repurpose that food such as adding left over chicken to a fried rice recipe or turning into ravioli. Keep foods that need to be used at eye level so they are ready to be used and so they wouldn’t become a forgotten mess in the back of the refrigerator.
Focus on where and how you purchase
Many grocery stores are helping on the customers by providing locations of where fruits and vegetables come from. The further the location that the food is from the less likely that it will last more than a few days in your refrigerator. Your best bet is to find local sources for your food like a neighborhood farmer, backyard fruit trees, or a personal vegetable garden; the more local the source the longer it will stay fresh in your home. You may want to find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group that you can receive fresh, in-season food items every week.
Know correct storage of food
In general a refrigerator temperature should be kept between 36 and 40 degrees F. to keep foods fresh but still avoiding freezing. Temperature is important because it helps food resist mold and bacteria growth. However, keeping meat at refrigerator temperature for an extended period of time can cause the meat to oxidize and cause the meat to spoil quickly. You can store bread items in cool, dark areas outside of the refrigerator if there is little or no fruit or vegetable items baked in, otherwise store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of tips and tricks to keep them fresh longer but a few to keep in mind are:
- Keep fruits and vegetable in the warmest part of your refrigerator, which is usually the bottom, to keep the flavor.
- Cut up root vegetables like carrots and place them in water to keep their crunchiness and for quick eating.
- Do not store fruits and vegetables in plastic bags.
- Mold likes to grow on moist surfaces so wash and dry well any produce before you put in the refrigerator to be stored.
- Berries should be stored in the coolest point in the refrigerator in a re-sealable plastic bag.
- Store leafy greens in an open container wrapped in a paper towel.
Consider alternative food storage
Some food storage methods may be considered dying art forms, however, you may want to consider alternative methods of food storage for some situations. Canning is an alternative food storage method that could preserve food for up to a year in some cases. When buying end of the season produce you may be able to find a local farmer who is willing to part with less than perfect produce that you can turn into wonderful jellies, jams, or sauces for later. Another food storage method is drying. Drying fruits and vegetables allow you to keep your produce longer and make great to-go snacks. Drying can be as easy as cutting the produce and place them in the oven.