Can you believe the first month of the New Year is almost over? How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Are they still going strong? Each year, my resolutions always seem to revolve around the same goals each year. I may word my resolutions a bit differently each year based on the previous year’s success rate, but each year they relate to more gym time and more organization. Admittedly, I already feel behind but January is a time to take inventories of our lives as the blank canvas of the new year is in front of us. Inventories are also important in the fight on food waste. As I was making new inventory sheets for my pantry, freezer, and fridge this month, it occurred to me that January would be a good time to do a food waste refresher post.
This month, I had the honor to be a guest on the Louisiana Eats! radio show with the one and only New Orleans treasure Poppy Tooker. The title of the show is “Talking Trash” and focuses on food and water waste in a very inspiring way. It’s a good place to start so please listen to the show here.
FACT: The average American wastes up to 20 pounds of food per month.
FACT: Food waste is the number one item in landfills.
FACT: 40% of all prepared food goes to waste.
No matter how many times I have heard those statistics, it’s always shocking. I could add in some more equally startling stats, like everyday there is enough food wasted in America to fill up LSU’s Tiger Stadium, but I think you get the idea.
Now, let’s look at some easy ways to save food that I highlight in my food waste workshops.
1-TAKE INVENTORIES: Use inventory sheets for freezer, panty, and fridge. Make your freezer your BFF.
2-GET CHILLIN’: Buy Ice Cube trays: Use them to freeze leftover tomato paste, coffee, tea, stock, gravy, sauce or fresh herbs with olive oil. Freeze cubes then put into containers. They’ll always will be at the ready for cooking.
3-BE A HERO: Rescue the orphan bananas. Be a food waste hero and rescue the single bananas at the market. They usually go to waste. When I did my food waste power point presentation at the last International Food Bloggers Conference, I actually sang, “All the single nanas, all the single nanas” to the tune of “All the Single Ladies”, yes, it wasn’t pretty, but so many people came up to me the next day singing it, I have a feeling they will do the same at the market.
4-LESS IS MORE: Reduce Plate Size: Did you know the size of plates have increased 40% since the 1960’s? This is an easy one and one I did five years ago to a BIG food waste loss success.
5-PRIORITIZE: Follow the FIFO (First In, First Out) rule when stocking groceries. Make an EAT first box: Have a box or bowl to put front and center in your fridge. An EAT first box is everything that needs to be eaten first. Think of the things that get lost in a drawer or stuck amongst the shelf like the last slice of cheese, last bit of mayo, browning apple, etc.
6-STOCK UP: Make stocks from rotisserie chicken carcass, ham bones, shrimp shells, fish bones, corn cobs. Save onion peelings, celery tops, and other vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, use to make vegetable stocks or add to water when making other stocks.
7-KEEP GROWING: Plant the seeds from fruits and vegetables. Regrow kitchen scraps like lettuce, celery, lemongrass, green onions, and herbs.
8-EMBRACE THE BEAUTY: Embrace the beauty of ugly produce. The “ugly is beautiful” movement for fruits and vegetables is on the rise and more and more businesses are dropping the crazy cosmetic standards, but not nearly enough. Billions of tons of produce are wasted each year for not being “perfect” enough. (See that pretty little tomato? Wasn’t pretty enough because of its small blemish aka beauty mark. It was doomed for the trash, until it was rescued.) Most communities offer volunteer opportunities to help glean the fields, check your area.
9-USE YOUR CORE: Did you know according to “TheThings.com”, “Americans are throwing away approximately 12.2 billion by simply throwing away their apple core. Use apple cores.” Use apple cores to make tea or glaze for desserts and use pineapple cores to make flavored rice.
10-BE IN THE KNOW: Understand date labels. 60% of food is thrown away due to date label misunderstanding. For instance, many toss an item if it is past it’s sell by, or best by dates. FACT: There is only 1 item required by Federal Law to have an expiration date on it. Infant Formula. The best before, best by, sell by dates are not expiration dates, they are set by the manufacturers. I call them marketing schemes. There are hundreds of salvage grocery stores around the country that sell products past their recommended dates at reduced prices. Why? Because the food is still good and it offers a great bargain. There are movements within Congress to stop the date label confusion and it cannot happen soon enough.
11-THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX; Yes, think outside the Tupperware box full of leftovers and see the magic of leftovers. TO COOK IS TO CREATE and I am really excited to Makeover My Leftover another year with you. Thanks for following my food waste journey, for allowing me into your homes, and for sharing your leftovers. Don’t forget to check out the Tuesday’s Tip page, too, each week for simple leftover tips and tricks. As always, if ever you have a leftover or food waste question, just ask!