in the kitchen

Food Waste: Not Here

In the Kitchen - Food Waste

I’m amazed at the number of blogs whose main topic is food waste.  Maybe I’m completely out of it (my kids would agree…), but I had no idea this was such a problem.  We never have food waste. If food is not eaten, I freeze it.  We rarely even have food go bad to the point where I have to get rid of it.  With some simple planning, eating at home, and utilizing your freezer and refrigerator, you can easily cut down on food waste.  Want more tips?  Read on, dear reader.

  • Meal planning.  Meal planning helps cut down on food waste by knowing what will be prepared for the next several nights.  For example, if I purchase greens, I know I’m serving them soon so they don’t go bad.
  • My kids eat leftovers for breakfast.  Unless I put a big sign on on the leftovers that reads “Keep out” then it’s eaten, first thing in the morning.  It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s going down!  I’m not kidding about the sign on the dish.  See above picture of hummus.
  • I don’t buy boxed breakfast cereal for my kids.  Cereals are mostly refined white flour and sugar and have no nutritional value.  My kids actually prefer leftovers for breakfast.  It’s easy for them to prepare on their own and they like good food.
  • I plan for leftovers, so that someone isn’t cooking every evening.  (See what my kids have cooked for dinner here.) Maybe it’s because we don’t go out to eat very often but our leftovers usually serve as a meal for the following night.  (I do like to save the leftovers for nights when I’m doing the cooking, but that’s just my little secret.)
  • There is a two night limit on a meal. If I make a large batch of soup and we eat it for dinner two nights in a row, then I freeze what’s left for another meal. Labeling the contents is a good idea here.  Or, be surprised!  We just had an excellent beef stew that was in the freezer with no label and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  Too bad I didn’t write down the recipe as I whipped it together…
  • We make/pack our own lunches and snacks.  My kids will pack leftover salads or pasta for their school lunches.  My husband and I eat leftovers for our lunches, too.  Packing lunches is an excellent way to save money and save your waist-line as well.
  • Use your refrigerator strategically.  If food is getting close to going bad, put it in your refrigerator. Bread, fruit, and avocados are good examples of food that can live a little longer by keeping them cold.  If bananas are too brown, stick them in the freezer.  When I have several brown, frozen bananas, I bake with them or put them in a smoothie.
  • Feed the chickens!  We have backyard chickens and they love our scraps.  Unfortunately, our chickens don’t get many of our leftovers because of the reasons listed above.  If any food gets dropped on the floor, it’s theirs.

Now, excuse me while I go eat my leftover beef stew for lunch.

Do you have a food waste problem?  Do you toss out leftovers or do you eat them?

Go Gingham related links:

National Match-Up Day: A step-by-step on how to clean and organize your food storage containers!
Grocery shopping from the bulk bins and food storage containers
Reusing glass jars and how to get them ready for re-use
Frugal grocery shopping – without coupons!
Pantry basics for the home cook – what’s in my pantry
Refrigerator basics for the home cook – what’s in my refrigerator
New to cooking at home? Fear not!
Confessions of a leftover food lover – that would be me!

Check out these other links on food waste:
Wasted Food – Jonathan Bloom wrote a book about food waste, too
The Frugal Girl – Kristen, The Frugal Girl, blogs weekly about food waste at her home

6 thoughts on “Food Waste: Not Here

  1. I’m right there with you!

    When money was tight I tried like crazy to get my husband to “brown bag it”. Unfortunately “brown bagging and sandwiches” did not match his aesthetic. Since then I always plan on my meals feeding at least 10-12 (we are a family of 5). This allows for seconds, breakfasts, lunches, and if I’m lucky a second dinner once the long nights of baseball start.

    Also, every week’s menu includes a leftovers night. This gives me a night off of cooking and empties out my refrigerator for next week’s groceries.


    1. Kirsten, this is an excellent way to meal plan AND give yourself a night off from cooking. Thanks for your comment!


  2. I would love to see a post about how you freeze and thaw food. I don’t really know how to make good use of my freezer. We do use up our leftovers but it feels like we are eating them for way too long! I really like the idea of using leftovers for a designated time and then freezing the rest.


    1. Great suggestion, Rebekah! I’d be happy to do a post about that. In fact, I just started one! One good rule that everyone appreciates at our house is a two night maximum on a meal. After two nights, food gets frozen – or eaten for lunch by my husband or me. For an example, I made lentils for dinner last night. We’ll have them again tonight and I froze the remainder in 2 separate containers. That way, I’ve got 2 more dinners in the freezer of lentils. Add a salad and you’ve got a meal!


  3. GREAT tips! It *really* is sad at how much food is wasted and how much of it can be prevented. So many forget how easy it is to simply freeze something that’s about to go bad (with proper labeling). It saves the food from being wasted, and saves you time in having to prepare another meal! While it may not be the best for energy conservation, we did buy a freezer for our basement. It’s allowed us to shop in bulk (bulk cuts of meat & even dirt cheap Dave’s Killer Bread), shop at the farmers markets in the summer to stock up on fruits and veggies, and store our left overs.


    1. Lane’, I completely agree with the shopping in bulk AND I love Dave’s Killer Bread. I haven’t bought 12+ loaves of bread yet to get the best price BUT I usually pick up 4-6 loaves a visit. Plus, good samples!


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