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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

3 tips for cutting food waste

Living joyfully is easier for me when I'm sticking to a budget.  Living within my financial means reduces stress and leaves money leftover for awesome things like travellinggardening, and roller derby.  One of my four simple goals for May is to stick to the current budget my husband Paul and I created.  To help us do that, I'm sticking to three steps for cutting our food waste.  Less food waste means we're actually using what we have and not just throwing our food budget in the trash.  Here's three ways I've successfully cut my food waste in the past:

1. Keep your fridge clean and organized. 

I'm trying to get in the habit of cleaning our fridge out weekly.  It helps me remember what we have and to use up our really perishable items before they go bad.  Keeping leftovers at eye level has also helped keep them noticeable.  I can't even count how many times tasty leftovers or healthy veggies have been lost in our fridge only to be found weeks after they've passed their prime.  A related bad tendancy: buying the same item several weeks in a row without already using what I have.  I've thrown out a few strawberry containers this spring simply because I forget we haven't eaten what we already have.  Poor strawberries.... 

Keeping my veggies in their assigned drawer in one layer also helps keep up their visibility.  And for me greater visibility = less food wasted. 

2. Keep a list on your fridge of fresh items that need to be used quickly. 

This trick has helped me tremendously.  Having food visible in my fridge doesn't always help remind me to use them if I don't open my fridge before making my meals or writing my grocery list.  When I've kept a fresh food list on the fridge and checked items off as I've used them, I've greatly reduced the amount of food we waste.  Even though I've been successful before with this, I have a hard time making it a long term habit.  Hoping that this sweet notepad will help me stick to this. 

3. Make a weekly menu plan.  

This is probably the best habit/tip for sticking to a budget and cutting food waste, and it also seems like the hardest for me to do.  Paul bought a handy food planning white board for the kitchen, which is super fun to write on and has helped us meal plan better.  I also love that it has a mini cork board - I've used it to pin coupons, bills, and awesome cards. 

My goal for this month is to create a menu plan on Saturday and grocery shop on Sunday (after checking our fridge contents first).  So far so good with this!  

[IYou might notice I don't have a night for leftovers up there.  I don't usually include this since I take leftovers to work for lunch.  It's usually enough to keep up with our dinner leftovers.]

My Valentine's Day card to Paul.  Probably the best card I've found for him to date.   

Reading back through my food cutting tips, it seems like the running theme is that I need my food and meal plans to be visible.  Waste happens when I forget what I have and then throwing expired things out.  This leads to more money spent at the grocery store and more money spent on eating out.  Hopefully knowing that will help me reach my goal of sticking to our food budget this month!  Thanks for reading!  

Do you have any good tips for cutting food waste at your house? 

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