Minimizing Food Waste

One of the most common problems most people have is wasting food.

There are several causes of this.

1.  Buying too much in the first place.

2.  Forgetting that you have already got an item at home and then buying it again.

3.  Leaving food in the fridge or pantry for too long until it is past its “use by” date.

4.  Not having a clear idea about what you are going to do with the food in the first place.

5.  Nor storing food at the correct temperature in the first place.

6.  All of the above.

I find that the old idea of planning a menu for a week in advance is invaluable.  I admit that I don’t do it all the time, but when I do I really notice the difference in food saving.  If I decide to have spaghetti, tacos and nachos in the same week, I buy 1 kg of mince and divide it up accordingly.  Then I have to make sure I have a can of refried beans for nachos as well as an avocado, corn chips and grated cheese and taco sauce which can be used for the tacos as well.  Spaghetti keeps for a long time in the right container, and I can use some of the tomatoes, avocado and lettuce I buy for the tacos as a side salad to have with the spaghetti, and make my own spaghetti sauce from overripe tomatoes which are often much cheaper.

If food is near its “use by” date and you don’t think you will be able to eat it because you have been invited out to dinner or going away, freeze it, but make sure you label it with the date you put it in the freezer, so it doesn’t disappear into the dark recesses of the freezer never to be seen again.

Try to alternate your meals, so you have a mince-based one the first night, then perhaps a chicken the next, mince-based the next again, then fish, then a vegetarian dish (e.g. cheese and mushroom omelette), mince-based again the next night, pasta and vegetable dish the night and fish the last night.  I am not suggesting you have mince 3 times a week, but just using it as an example.

One example of such a menu would be:

Monday:     Spaghetti Bolognaise with side salad of tomato, avocado and lettuce.

Tuesday :  Chicken breast with pesto sauce and steamed carrots and broccoli.

Wednesday: Nachos (mince, refried beans, garlic, extra chilli if required, guacamole made from fresh mashed avocado with lemon juice and sprinkled with a little Mexican chilli, corn chips and grated cheese).

Thursday:  Salmon fillets with lemon juice and steamed carrots and broccoli.

Friday:   Sliced mushrooms with pesto sauce, spaghetti or fettucini noodles and grated cheese or parmesan on top with side salad.

Saturday:  Tacos using leftover mince, onions, garlic, avocado, chopped tomato, lettuce and grated cheese and taco sauce.

Sunday:  Cheese and mushroom omelette with side salad.

Obviously you wouldn’t have the same menu every week, but this gives you some idea of ways to use up food without waste and have a delicious meal without being bored.  Planning weekly menus is a great way to do this.  It also saves you money in the long run, and means you have less garbage at the end of the week to dispose of.

Pasta is a feature of the Argentine cuisine
Pasta is a feature of the Argentine cuisine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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