Tired of Food Waste?
Food waste is an epidemic in America and probably in many of the other first world countries throughout the world. There are many reasons for this problem. Food is getting cheaper and cheaper, so now people tend to undervalue these products. Also, people are so far removed from where their food comes from and how much work goes into it that again, people undervalue their food.
Recent developments in my life have made me realize how much money I am wasting through my food waste. Not only is food waste bad for the environment, but it’s bad for my budget. I’ve gotten better over the past few years, since I first moved out on my own. But with the help of my ultra organized mom, I am taking my mission to reduce food waste to a new level.
In the past, I’ve relied primarily on vermicomposting to help me cut down on food waste, but I’m still not using as much food as I would like before it expires. I blame this on Pinterest because I rely on it to plan my meals. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pinterest and it never lets me down, if I need a yummy recipe to help perk up my mood. But sometimes, these recipes call for rare, more expensive ingredients that I can’t use in any other recipes. Multiple trips to the store to buy these things I usually don’t have on hand start to add up. It takes gas and usually when I go to get that ONE thing, I find myself buying more than that. So I came up with these meal plan charts, which you can download this Free Printables for Meal Planning
As a result, I am learning how to better budget for food, plan my meals in advance, which helps me save time and money. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been scouring the local grocery store ads online and some even have an app to help make my list. With my mom’s help here is how I plan my meals.
Once a month, I take stock in my kitchen and add these staple items to my budget. Only buying them in bulk once a month, along with my toiletries, helps me save trips, money and packaging. I keep them store in air tight containers so they won’t be damaged. The rest of our meal planning will be based on the premise that I have these in stock: flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder, oil, vanilla, seasonings, cans of tomato sauce, pasta, rice, beans, eggs, milk and butter.
I was always pretty good about having these staples, plus chocolate chips in my kitchen. It’s a bad day, if you catch me without sugar or chocolate chips. But now, it’s time to plan to rest. Start by finding your designated store online and find their ads for that week. The front page of the flier has the main deals for that week, so it’s a good place to start.
When I get to the store, I always avoid the middle aisles, with the exception of the baking aisle. Although, the middle aisle stores forever and I never have to worry about food waste, it’s usually filled with things that are unhealthy, or bad for the environment. These products use too much packaging, processing, or they’re full of chemicals. I tend to stick to the outside perimeter for the most part.
Bone in chicken breast, buy one get one free and boneless
Peteite sirloin steaks for 3.49 a pound.
For this purposes I will bought two packages of chicken and two packages of steaks for this week’s meat purchase.
Two rolls of sausage for $3
1 cantaloupe – $2.99
4 peaches -99c a pound
Potatoes -$2.99 a bag
Mushrooms -$1.99 ea.
Onions – $2.99 a bag
Head of Lettuce- $1.19
2 Pasta- 89c ea.
8 Yogurt- 2 for .89
Sour Cream- $1.79
We spent a little under $70 before tax. We have meat, onions, pasta, olive oil and sour cream for at least one more week. We actually bought meat for two weeks. Next week we can buy double meat again if it’s in the budget and maybe there will be even better deals. We will have two boxes of pasta leftover, some potatoes, some onions, and some of the sour cream.
As an additional filler, we could get a loaf of bread and a package of meat or jar of peanut butter to make sandwiches as well.
Meal Prep and Planning
Right when we are putting up our food, I washed up our peaches and set them on the counter to use and we will peel, seed, and slice up our cantaloupe so it’s ready to eat. This kind of planning ahead makes it convenient to eat our fruit before it spoils. Also, to save a step, we washed and cut up the head of lettuce and broccoli into bite sized pieces.
I took one roll of sausage and made patties and cooked them so they were be ready for breakfasts. For our breakfasts we had fruit and sausage, oatmeal and yogurt, or yogurt and fruit. We will also had yogurts and fruit for some snacks.
Then our meal will go as follows:
Dinner- We had baked potatoes, with sauteed mushrooms and onions with a dollop of sour cream. Always make a simple dinner on Mondays, Monday is hard enough already. Also, it’s a good idea to start off your week with a meatless Mondays because it’s better for a budget and the environment to do it at least once a week.
Dinner- Two of the chicken breasts, the ones we kept out of the freezer, and baked them in the oven until done. Then sauteed a chopped onion in a pan, added any leftover mushrooms we had left, pulled the chicken off the bones and diced that up and threw it in, then added half the broccoli we already cut up. Sauteed it, seasoned it and we could make a sauce with sour cream as well if we wanted to.
Cooked up a pound of pasta and mixed it into the pan.
Then we had a big pan of pasta. We had a portion of that for diner that night with a side salad (that we already chopped up the day we brought it home). We took that for lunch the next day and had dinner one more night.
Dinner-Leftover pasta for dinner sandwiches for lunch. Baked a potato for lunch the next day.
Thursday morning we threw some beans in the crock pot to cook while we were at work.
Lunch- Baked potato
Dinner- Beans and a side salad. Cooked two pounds so we can have leftovers in the fridge.
Lunch- Sandwiches or beans
Dinner- We made it! And we have the steaks to celebrate. Plus, a side of baked potatoes and salad.
In the morning, we’ll put the remaining beans in the crock pot with a can of diced tomatoes and corn to make taco soup for lunch.
Dinner- Cook another pound of pasta or rice, to make another broccoli dish.
Sunday is an easy peasy leftover day and a chance to browse the sale ads for the next week.
The key to keeping organized to reduce food waste is be creative with the sale items each week, making your veggies easy to use AND making a plan to use them. We don’t want to waste our times shopping and cooking, spend our hard earned money and then throw away the food because it spoils.
With chicken on the bone you can have baked or fried chicken but you can also stretch that meat a lot further by making casseroles, stir fries, or pasta dishes. The same for the steaks. They can be cut up in pasta dishes, made into fajitas, shish kabobs. There are unlimited dishes that these versatile meats can be stretched out for.
Cut veggies and fruits up if possible (not berries) as soon as you bring them home. Cook up meats that can be cooked ahead and make your meal prep easy for when you come home tired and don’t want to stand at the stove all night long cooking. Make as many meals as possible big enough for two meals so you can cook ½ the number of times. Use less meat to save money and strain on the environment. If you mix meat into veggies and starches, it stretches a long ways without having to give up meat totally. Think pasta, rice, stir fries, casseroles, whatever you like to stretch your food dollar and make sure you’re not wasting. Use your crock pot as much as possible. Taco soup, roasts, soups, stews, beans, tons of stuff can be cooking while you’re at work.
If you have stuff that is starting to lose it’s lustre in the fridge, cook it up and it will last a few days longer. Store foods properly. Onions, potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, basil, bananas and asparagus should never go in the fridge, it ruins the flavor.
No fruits or veggies should be in air tight containers, they need to breathe to last longer, if you bring them home in a plastic bag, poke air holes or open the top of it up or take them out of the plastic and set them in a bowl or use the crisper drawers, better yet, use cloth produce bags. Here is a great article on how to store produce.
Don’t forget your Free Printables for Meal Planning to get start on organizing your food shopping and cut down on food waste.
Want more ideas on how to get organized? Check out these other articles!