August 14, 2009

Another Friday Food Waste Post

On Fridays, I post these lovely photos of food that's headed for the trash. Why do I air our dirty laundry, so to speak, in this fashion? It's in response to The Frugal Girl's Waste-No-Food challenge, an attempt for each of us to do our part to reduce food waste on the planet.

This week wasn't too bad, especially because you can't tell from the photo, but each of these containers is actually ALMOST empty. The cheese is rare for us to waste, and I'd been using it a lot in salads, but all of a sudden the last bit was just a little off. And my husband made a valiant attempt at the half & half, using up nearly all of it, with no help from me. There are limits to how far I'll go to reduce food waste, and eating something incredibly fattening that I don't really need is one of them.

What I learned this week has a lot to do with my buying habits. Lessons:

1) Half and half. I bought it for a recipe I didn't end up making. I don't think I'll ever buy it again. If it doesn't get used, there's really nothing we need it for. And any recipe that calls for it, surely I can use milk instead.

2) Crumbled feta. This is a habit I picked up before the days of watching our food waste. I started purchasing these tubs of cheese for convenience, but now it seems silly to pay more for something I could buy in a block, especially since it comes in the useless, throwaway plastic container.

So I'm slowly learning. No more half and half. And no more plastic "convenience" containers of cheese.

Want to know why you should care about the food you waste? Here's just one fact to help convince you: "If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 5 cars off the road." (From the excellent website Love Food, Hate Waste). Be sure to visit Wasted Food to get the scoop from Jonathan Bloom, the go-to resource for all things food waste-related.

How was your week? Are you tracking your food waste? I'm finding it's an ongoing process that I have to be constantly vigilant about. But on top of feeling better about wasting less, I've cut our grocery bill by about 25%. That may be an added incentive for some of you. Please leave your tips and advice, questions and concerns in the Comments section.


annet said...

Diverse food use in a two person household is an issue we face too. There are some things I absolutely love that my husband won't touch and vice versa. (There's also a lot of food tastes we have in common, whew!). I'm going away next week for five days so I planned my meals this week to use up that great red curry tofu I made on the weekend (yummy in breakfast stir-frys with cous-cous and random veggies from the garden). I have half a loaf of oatmeal bread that I will probably solar dehydrate into melba toast tomorrow.

I actually conscientiously began tackling the food waste problem this spring. I wanted on-going space in my fridge for my no-knead artisan bread dough. I did a lot of combo cooking to get rid of odds and ends that were still good but were small amounts in bigger jars and taking up space. I cut back on produce buying and that really helped on the waste front. Just having less in the fridge really helps to keep track of what you have to use up. I found my food spending going down as well (I'm also trying to use up older canned stuff through this summer.)

I have "regions" for everything in the fridge and that helps too. I have a casein intolerance so all my special cheese is in an open container (I purchase small amounts of goat and sheep cheeses) in the cheese/meat drawer. All our burger/sausage condiments are in one box shelf in the door. All the salad/sauce bottles are in the bottom door shelf. Jams and pickles are on the top shelf. My odd stuff (like tofu) is tucked behind/beside the margarine. Having limited space for each "section" also means cutting down the plethora of choice -- we really don't need more than two kinds of relish/salsa open at once, nor more than two jams. Use it up and move on to another variety from the preserve pantry!

mrs green said...

I love how you've figured out the 25% saving you are making and you're right; it's a huge incentive.

Well done on your minimum food waste this week and I agree; ready crumbled / grated cheese is SUCH a waste of money!

Angela said...

annet- yes, we have fridge "areas" as well, and that helps us keep track of what's in there. Also, the "eat me" section really works for getting my husband to eat what could soon go bad. Thanks for commenting!

Mrs. Green- Thanks for coming by. yes, it's amazing how long some of this stuff takes to sink in. I never used to buy the bins of crumbled cheese, but got into the habit when I was really busy.