Author Topic: How might I throw out less fresh food?  (Read 5139 times)

cranilation

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How might I throw out less fresh food?
« on: May 30, 2016, 09:07:43 AM »
Currently I meal plan every week and then grocery shop based specifically on those meals.

The problem is a lot of the "healthful" foods I buy (aka fresh) - I never get around to eating, and so they are wasted.  I'm shopping today and there are still a handful of apples in the bowl, and an entire extra head of romaine in the fridge. 

Why are they wasted?  Either because (a) my reach is greater than my grasp, and I plan for more cooking then I end up having the energy for doing, or (b) because they don't sell foods in the portion sizes I will actually use.

My ideal state would be to have a "well-stocked pantry" of fruits and vegetables.  That way my kitchen wouldn't be a revolving door of healthy-food-in, mushy-food-out every week.  But I've found that this concept only is financially possible if you have enough hungry mouths to churn through that stock before it spoils. Alternatively, a standard method for using up xyz random vegetables that weren't used in earlier meals each weekend would be nice too.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 09:11:00 AM by cranilation »

WildJager

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Re: In Search Of: Healthy foods that last a long time
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2016, 09:13:33 AM »
Pickling and canning are a historic way to save food before it goes bad, but only certain crops lend to that.  Making jerky helps with meat.

Casseroles are a perfect way to save ingredients that are getting a bit old.  With enough cheese and spices you can make almost anything tasty.

Lettuce is a more challenging one, because there is only so much you can do with lettuce.

Don't be afraid to put most of your fruits and vegetables in the fridge that usually sit on the counter top.  You may lose some flavor, but that's better than items going in the trash.

Get better about preloading large amounts of staples, such as rice.  It's easy to warm up some cooked rice, then quickly saute some vegetables in oil to make a quick stir fry.

ender

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2016, 09:14:47 AM »
Plan realistically.

Don't buy stuff you don't actually anticipate making/using.

GuitarStv

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2016, 09:19:59 AM »
Make a meal plan.  Buy the quantity of food you need based on your actual meal plan.  Then stick to your meal plan.  Sometimes if you need to buy a lot of one ingredient you'll need to plan several meals that use that ingredient to finish it all.

Plan meals occasionally where you can just toss in some extras (spaghetti sauce for example . . . you can throw in carrots, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, chives, zuchini, eggplant, etc.  Soups and stews are also great catch-alls.) if they're starting to go bad.

Use up all the ingredients when you cook.  Most recipes are a little flexible, so feel free to finish up that 1/3 of a cucumber, 1/4 of a tomato, or 1/2 a pepper in something.  This might mean that you make more food than you will eat.  Freeze the leftovers in single portion sizes so you've got an instant meal sitting in the freezer whenever you need one.

Remember, a well stocked pantry is only well stocked with non-perishables.  Things that go bad quickly need to be purchased regularly.

Rezdent

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2016, 09:29:09 AM »
One standard is to make soup each week with vegetables that are left, and fruit salad from fruits.
Take stock of what's on hand before buying more - don't buy as much fruit if there are oranges still at home.
Ladder your consumption so that the more perishable items are consumed first.  If you buy apples and bananas, eat the bananas first.

Regarding portion sizes, a bag of apples appears to be cheaper than individual - but not if some of them go bad.  You may actually come out ahead by buying a few loose apples, so do the math.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: In Search Of: Healthy foods that last a long time
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2016, 09:30:17 AM »
I identified the foods I always ended up throwing out (deli turkey, cottage cheese, hummus, a couple other things), and I stopped buying them. I'm curious how many apples you're buying at once, though, if you can't get through them all before they go rotten. Even romaine can last a long time if you store it properly.

Batch-cooking is one solution: make a couple big batches of food on the weekend, freeze portions, and defrost when needed.

What food do you fall back on when you don't cook? Throwing dressing and some pre-cut toppings on romaine takes almost no time.

Where do you shop? If you're going to Costco for one person, it may be worth it to pay more per-unit for smaller portions at a different store.

Using up random veggies and stuff: throw into a chili, stew, or soup, chop up small and have in a salad, stir-fry, roast them all together, dip in dressing, or just eat them as a side dish. You can also blanch and freeze veggies. I also throw salad greens into stews, just to use them up.

elaine amj

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2016, 09:35:18 AM »
Meal planning should theoretically take care of this. e.g. if you plan to have a salad on one day and have to buy lettuce, you also know that you will have extra lettuce so you will likely need to plan 2 salads that week.

For the apples, perhaps make applesauce or plan a dish that uses apples (Add it to breakfast, a salad, you can add it to roasted vegetables, or do a dish with pork and apple slices). If you have a juicer,you can have apple juice. It's also good in soup (my mom adds it to cabbage soup - yummy). Or just consciously push yourself to eat them. Apple for breakfast, apple for afternoon snack, apple for dessert - it will only take 1-2 days to finish them all.

I usually plan meals based around what leftovers are going bad. e.g. I had several sweet potatoes that have been sitting around for a few weeks. So when I had to cook for a potluck on Sunday, I saw it and made roasted sweet potatoes.

I also have started freezing stuff.
A few days ago, at about 11:30pm, I noticed some extra carrots we hadn't been able to use up were starting to go soft. I peeled them all, julienned some, cubed others and had them packed into individual servings in ziploc baggies. I now have a stock of carrots in the freezer I can pull out for stirfries etc. So when I made the roasted sweet potatoes yesterday, I was able to defrost a bag of cubed carrots and add it in. Yum!

I also freeze stuff like deli turkey and shredded cheese. Just pack them into ziplocs in about the amounts we would use in 1-2 weeks. Then pull out a bag at a time to keep in the fridge. .

Still learning. I'm not as good as DH about making sure food doesn't go bad. Yesterday I had to throw out 3 giant onions I hadn't been able to finish (I had bought a big bag a month or so ago). I'm finding it takes mindfulness and constant checking of the fridge/counter.

ender

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Re: In Search Of: Healthy foods that last a long time
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2016, 09:35:42 AM »
What food do you fall back on when you don't cook? Throwing dressing and some pre-cut toppings on romaine takes almost no time.

This feels like a life hack, but my wife and I started bulk preparing salad toppings (cheese, celery, carrots, romaine) and it makes it SO much easier to have a salad.

It's a ton easier to open the fridge and assemble a salad than to wash, prepare, and then assemble.

WildJager

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2016, 09:37:15 AM »
I mentioned casseroles before, but a slow cooker should be emphasised too.  Coming home to a warm meal that you prepared in the morning (or the night before and stored in the fridge) really helps with the motivation thing after a rough day at work. 

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2016, 09:45:10 AM »
Meal planning is a gread for managing food supplies but only if it's based on what portions are available, if you can't purchase an exact quantity. Sometimes these are predictable, so as GuitarStv suggested, an ingredient which comes as a large item or pack may need to feature in several meals that week (or bulk cooking for the freezer). Alternatively, you may need to adjust your plan to what sizes are available - if you take the plan to the store as well as your shopping list, you can adapt it is you go along. (This also works well if you find a better deal on a different ingredient).

For salads, I tend to buy greens which will also work as a cooked ingredient - things like spinach, lambs lettuce or baby kale can be stirred into pasta or many other dishes at the end of cooking, so I always use them up.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 09:47:52 AM by Campanula »

plainjane

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2016, 09:54:44 AM »
Plan for a night a week where you don't have a fresh meal, and instead use something out of the freezer or leftovers - whatever you do those nights you don't have the energy to follow the plan.  (We have homemade soup in the freezer, or scramble eggs on those nights.)

I stopped buying romaine and switched to spinach, because then I had more options if we didn't feel like salad that week.

Random vegetables & meat can go into a slaw, fritters, soup, wraps.  Look up the proliferation of "bowl" recipes for ideas on sauces and dressings.

Stop defining healthy food as only being fresh.  Frozen vegetables can be a great help.  E.g. a whole head of broccoli is a great way for me to be unable to eat it again for 6-8 weeks.  But a bag in the freezer gives me the option to just roast off a portion amount and not worry about waste or leftovers.

[edited for comprehension]
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 05:42:06 PM by plainjane »

pbkmaine

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2016, 09:54:54 AM »
I take fruits and veggies that are starting to look a bit limp, chop them, put them in freezer bags and stick in the freezer. The fruits go into smoothies or oatmeal; the veggies go into soups and stews. Bonus points for saving onion skins and celery and carrot tops and peelings to make soup stock. Also: broccoli stalks and cauliflower cores make great soups.

matchewed

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2016, 10:01:13 AM »
Also scrambled eggs and random foods go well together.

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2016, 10:20:44 AM »
I'll just chime in to say that apples, pears, cherries and probably other tree fruits should be kept in the fridge. Orchards are the biggest cash crop around here, and let me tell you, those fruit packing and storage facilities are COLD.

Adge

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2016, 10:47:19 AM »
One thing I've learned to do it to check the fridge and the cupboards before I meal plan for the next week. If I look in the fridge and see a head of broccoli I bought but didn't need and then open the cupboard to find an onion and a few potatoes, then I know I need to make sure that those 3 things end up in whatever I plan to cook next week and I start thinking of things I can make to use them.

I agree with what a couple of others have pointed out about lettuce- I prefer spinach or kale for salads because then if it starts to wilt or I'm just not feeling salad that day, I can just throw it in a pan and braise it instead. In a pinch, I've cooked up a whole mess of wilted spinach and just thrown it in the freezer, since I didn't need it right away, and it will keep there for a few weeks no problem. Again, make sure to check before you meal plan so you don't forget it's there ;)

Also, not sure how many people you're feeding but you might just need to scale down how much you're planning to cook until you get a better grasp on it. I cook for just me and I only plan one meal for the week, which I cook on Sunday and eat for dinner all week. Saturdays I plan to scrounge around the kitchen and eat something easy, usually eggs or tuna. If you aren't put off by eating the same thing all week you could try that. Or plan on two meals and pre-cook them, whatever works for you. I started working life with grand plans of cooking dinner every night like I did in college but I was always way too tired when I got home from work to want to cook. So I've learned to work with that and just plan on spending a couple hours in the kitchen Sunday so that when I get home from work dinner is already ready for me.

And definitely keep apples and other fruit in the fridge. I prefer to eat them at room temperature so I always leave one out on the counter and get one more out of the fridge to replace it when I want to eat it. Takes a bit of adjusting to get used to doing it at first, but your fruit will definitely keep longer that way.

Zikoris

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2016, 11:04:48 AM »
Surprised nobody's mentioned it, but some produce lasts a lot longer than other stuff! Carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, squash, turnips, and various other root vegetables are all good choices. Frozen vegetables are also a great option for longevity.

Now for the ass-kicking/face-punching. What do you mean you decide not to cook because you're tired? Sometimes in life you need to be an adult, suck it up, and do things you don't feel like doing. I get it, we all have that inner two-year-old screaming "I DON'T WANNA!!!", but letting that part of you dictate your life does not end well.

Cpa Cat

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2016, 11:22:38 AM »
One thing I've learned to do it to check the fridge and the cupboards before I meal plan for the next week. If I look in the fridge and see a head of broccoli I bought but didn't need and then open the cupboard to find an onion and a few potatoes, then I know I need to make sure that those 3 things end up in whatever I plan to cook next week and I start thinking of things I can make to use them.

This. Often, if it turns out I have enough to make a meal or two, minus a couple of ingredients, I just go pick up what I need for those two meals and delay the big grocery trip by a couple of days. Or try not to go pick up extra groceries at all.

For example, if I looked around and I had a head of lettuce, some miscellaneous veggies and some apples, I just wouldn't shop. I'd make a salad for dinner, with sliced apples for dessert. With salads, you can think outside the box - a dinner salad could be made with a can of tuna or deli meat and some lettuce. If you have random potatoes, roast them and throw them on top.  Just about any vegetable can be roasted and put on some lettuce for a salad.

If you imagine Adge's pantry with broccoli, potatoes, and onions - I'd probably pop in to the store for eggs (if I didn't have any) and make omelets for dinner. But I'll note that those things also go great on a salad. :)

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2016, 01:11:42 PM »
Plan/shop for 5 days of meals instead of 7. This gives you some breathing room for leftovers, going out, whatever the week throws at you. I have a number of meals that I can pull out of my hat at the end of the week that rely more on dry goods/canned/frozen things. These are still homemade, healthy, and delicious, so it's not like we are sacrificing quality. Examples include an indian dahl with frozen spinach over rice, split pea soup, chana masala (a chick pea and canned tomato stew), a southwest salad that is based on black beans, quinoa, canned corn, and canned black olives, with whatever odds and ends of veggies we have thrown in. Keeping a bag of frozen stir fry veggies on hand is another great way to magic up a meal when you've run out of all your fresh stuff.

Kitsune

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2016, 01:21:37 PM »
The OP specifically mentionned romaine lettuce, so, trick: DON'T BUY IT. Buy baby spinach instead, in large-ish bags (I get the costco sized bags).

Romaine is really only great for salad, which makes it harder to use up. Baby spinach can be used for most of the same salads (kind of odd in a cesar salad, but even then, acceptable), but can also be used in smoothies, pan-fried and served with salmon, put in sandwiches as greens, etc. More versatile, and therefore more easy to use up, and a 3.50$ bag of spinach will last for a full week and provide at least 5 meals worth of greens for 2 adults, in my house.

ahoy

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2016, 02:13:59 AM »
Spinach is easy to grow yourself.  I don't buy it anymore and in a lot of places this can be grown year round.  Some varieties don't like it too hot though.  Same with lettuce, grow it if you can.  A pack of 200 seeds will set you back a couple of dollars.

The other day I bought some spring onions, kept what I needed for the next couple of days and chopped up the remaining and threw them in the freezer.  While the roots are sitting in a glass jar on my kitchen window sill re-growing.

I use to over shop but have learned  to buy less.  By the end of the week, our fridge and pantry is looking VERY empty. 

cranilation

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2016, 06:21:07 AM »
  By the end of the week, our fridge and pantry is looking VERY empty. 

For how many other people is this true?  This seems very limiting.  Wouldn't it be better to have a constant rotation of variety and options?  Or is an empty fridge a minimalist lifestyle? Or is it just the best way to be cheap?

GuitarStv

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2016, 06:29:02 AM »
  By the end of the week, our fridge and pantry is looking VERY empty. 

For how many other people is this true?  This seems very limiting.  Wouldn't it be better to have a constant rotation of variety and options?  Or is an empty fridge a minimalist lifestyle? Or is it just the best way to be cheap?

Our fridge is empty at the end of a week.  Our pantry is usually well stocked though (rice, dried beans, canned stuff, flour, etc.), and our freezer is always stuffed with previously made meals.

CintranGhola

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2016, 06:38:15 AM »
Agree with matchewed, I fairly regularly throw any leftover vegetables from the week in with some scrambled eggs.   It adds some "fanciness" to breakfast on the weekend, and works just as well as a super quick dinner on an evening that I'm short on time or energy.

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2016, 06:53:28 AM »
My fridge is also pretty empty of perishable food at the end of the week, by design. I try to buy no more than I will use by the next weekly shop. I'm useless at written food planning but over time have got pretty good at judging what we'll use up.

Growing your own leafy greens ( e.g. silver beet, lettuce, asian greens, rocket) and herbs is easy, and gives you a lot more flexibility - you only pick what you need when you need it. 

Buy fruit/vege fresh. I bought from all my local shops and found the one that reliably has the freshest produce… often this will give vege a whole extra week in the fridge if necessary. Try to buy whats in season, as produce is likely to be fresher and cheaper.

If you have bought fresh meat that needs using and you are too tired to cook, put it in the freezer. Just do it, meat is too expensive to waste.




NotJen

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2016, 07:16:15 AM »
  By the end of the week, our fridge and pantry is looking VERY empty. 

For how many other people is this true?  This seems very limiting.  Wouldn't it be better to have a constant rotation of variety and options?  Or is an empty fridge a minimalist lifestyle? Or is it just the best way to be cheap?

My fridge is also frequently empty at the end of the week (well, Friday).  I think "having options" is a big waste.  You will be much happier if you only buy what you will eat (or, that was true for me).  I have set things that I buy at the grocery store each week.  It is much simpler for me to do this, and not wander around buying a little bit of everything "in case" I want to eat it in the coming week.  Somehow, this works and I never feel deprived (I've been doing it for a while, so I know what my favorite foods are and stick to those).  I have my usual foods, and then I have a list for the extras that I will need to make a meal or two for the week.  I know that I will only actually cook once or twice a week (and do lots of prep on the weekends), so I don't buy more than that.  Other nights, I have either planned to eat out with friends, eat a simple staple meal (eggs or PBJ), or I pull something from the freezer.

My freezer is my greatest tool in the kitchen, and a lot of my variety comes in there.  My meat mostly comes to me frozen anyway (I buy from local farmers), so I never waste there.  I cook once or twice a week, and all my leftovers go in the freezer, to pull out mostly for lunches, but they could be dinners as well.  Fruit starting to go bad?  Clean it and throw it in the freezer for smoothies in the future.  Or, if you have time, make jam with it, and stick the extra in the freezer.  Everything goes in the freezer. 

zephyr911

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2016, 07:24:08 AM »
My solution is to live within a 10-minute walk of the grocery store, shop more often and hold less inventory. It's not the most efficient use of time but it sure avoids waste, and it makes it easier to shop sales and near-expired markdowns.

LeRainDrop

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2016, 07:38:55 AM »
I'll just chime in to say that apples, pears, cherries and probably other tree fruits should be kept in the fridge. Orchards are the biggest cash crop around here, and let me tell you, those fruit packing and storage facilities are COLD.

Agree, all of these should be stored in the fridge.  Sometimes I don't get around to finish my apples for like 3 or 4 weeks, and they're still good if they've been stored in the fridge.  Also, you should not wash fruit until you are actually about to eat it because the rinsing process actually accelerates the ripening/over-ripening.

patrat

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2016, 07:39:37 AM »
I periodically use a whiteboard in the kitchen when needed to help with food organization. Food that is about to perish gets put on the whiteboard with *need to use*.

Underplan your meals. Plan and shop for only 2 evening meals per trip. Usually in my house that becomes those 2 meals, plus 1-2 nights of leftovers, and 2-4 days of leftover lunches.

Now you have the remaining ingredients, head to the internet and type them in 2 or 3 in a set, and find recipes to inspire. Go shopping for just the little bits needed to turn those *leftover* recipes into reality.

When you have cooked and have leftovers, but the remaining unused ingredients need used ASAP, move ahead with using those ingredients and let the leftovers linger - if properly packaged they might freeze well and then you have the holy grail - convenience food!

When prepping your ingredients for a meal, prep the remainder of your perishable item (head of cabbage, bag of carrots, half an onion, chicken breast, etc) in a logical way that makes it easy to use. When dicing that half an onion for your recipe, dice the other half too, and put it in a container in the fridge. Keep an ample supply of containers ready to go. I really like small widemouth mason jars (pint, half pint) with plastic lids for this, but the free option is saving a sensible amount of nice shaped leftover glass jars from jelly, pickles, etc to reuse. Also, the square shape Ziplock brand plastic containers (sold cheaply, they don't look beefy at all) work great, and last indefinitely if you hand wash them and keep them out of the microwave. Try to prep ingredients as soon as they enter the house, like a commercial kitchen would. You will find yourself more inspired to use things up this way. Consider blanching your perishable vegetables and freezing the amount not needed for your recipe.

When prepping all your fruit and veg, keep a container with a lid nearby. All of your fleshy onion trimmings, carrot peels, celery root tips, bones, skin, fat, ginger peel, etc go into this, and then into the freezer. When full, dump it into a soup pot and simmer for 4 hours. Strain into your quart size mason jars, now you have free broth of higher quality than the store. Add more water to the pot and then simmer again, with a shot of vinegar. If you find you are getting more stock than you can use, strain it into a second pot and condense it down until thick like jam. That stuff is amazing for sauces, and keeps well.

Don't let yourself plan new recipes / go on a general shopping trip until the perishables are accounted for.

Lastly, keep a compost bin. Atleast you can make some expensive compost.


Zikoris

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2016, 08:05:48 AM »
  By the end of the week, our fridge and pantry is looking VERY empty. 

For how many other people is this true?  This seems very limiting.  Wouldn't it be better to have a constant rotation of variety and options?  Or is an empty fridge a minimalist lifestyle? Or is it just the best way to be cheap?

My goal is to have zero vegetables left by Friday grocery shopping day, and ideally zero leftovers as well. Nothing to do with frugality or anything - I just like to start fresh every weekend without having to think about how old anything is.

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2016, 08:08:03 AM »
I used to have this problem as well, but with some focus, I've been able to reduce food waste and now we rarely throw things out.

Buy less.  I don't think keeping a "well stocked pantry" of fruit and veggies at all times is a goal compatible with reducing waste.  Shooting for an empty fridge at the end of the week will ensure that you zero in on, and use up those ingredients that are languishing.  Some of our most delicious meals are from putting together random ingredients at the end of the week.  Things that are good for using up mixed vegetables and leftover proteins:  Pad Thai, pasta, risotto, fried rice, soup, meatloaf,  stirfry, "fajitas" (I do this a lot with non-traditional fajita veggies like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini etc. seasoned with oregano, cumin and jalapenos, then serve with beans and a protein).  You can enjoy a lot of variety without having a huge range of ingredients on hand.

Use up your perishable stuff first.  That probably means having your salads at the beginning of the week.

Plan your meals around your vegetables vs. planning them around the protein, and then throwing the veggies in as an afterthought.  Don't be afraid to combine vegetables, because most of them will work together.

Don't be afraid to run out of food.  You can always go to the store mid-week if you truly don't have anything, but usually, a meal can be pulled together even when the fridge looks bare, and you'll feel badass for doing it.

Freeze leftovers.  If you know you're getting sick of that big pot of soup, portion it out and freeze it to have later for lunches or emergency dinner when you're too tired to cook. 

Drifterrider

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2016, 08:11:38 AM »
Buy those foods more frequently.  Check the delivery dates of the stores where you shop.  Europeans have smaller refrigerators because they shop more frequently for spoilable foods.  We could learn from them on this.


mskyle

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2016, 10:21:39 AM »
I think you need to build in that "too tired to cook" situation into your planning. That could mean some nights you just have a couple carrots and some cheese and crackers, or it could mean you cook extra on Sunday and eat leftovers a couple nights a week, or it could mean that you accept that, right now, you *are* going to get takeout/eat out a couple of times a week, and pretending that that's not the case just causes you to waste food.

Basically, buy for the way you actually eat, not the way you think you should eat.

Spitfire

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2016, 12:30:26 PM »
Plan/shop for 5 days of meals instead of 7.

This is what I do. I'll keep frozen veggies handy or just make an early/extra grocery trip if I have to.

lizzzi

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2016, 12:46:50 PM »
I don't really have any suggestions to add, as posters upthread have said it all. But I just wanted to say that I've experienced the same problems voiced by the OP, and I learned to do the things that others are suggesting...with excellent results.

Well, I do have one suggestion, having to do with apples. If you have too many, peel, core, and slice them...sweeten them with brown sugar, add some cinnamon and just a dash of nutmeg, and a splash lf lemon juice...and bake them. Let's say 350 degrees for 45" or an hour. Eat them up for a dessert, or put them in containers and freeze.

OK, I'm on a roll. For soft fruit such as berries, put them in the freezer. Take them out frozen, and put maybe three big strawberries in your VitaMix with a teaspoon of sugar and one cup milk. Fast smoothie!

Tris Prior

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2016, 12:49:21 PM »
I have this problem too, mostly with produce. We don't have a car so tend to do less frequent, bigger food runs (especially during times of year where weather makes it difficult to get our cart down the sidewalks.) What works for me is:

- being really, really honest with myself about what I physically can cook in a given week. And also what I WANT to eat in a given week. Sometimes I am overambitious, both regarding creativity of my meals, and regarding how much produce I'll actually consume.

- committing to cooking stuff that I know will go bad quickly. Like mushrooms; we bought some yesterday and they're going in risotto tonight.

- chopping up produce that I can't use right away but might go off soon, and freezing it.

- not buying stuff I don't like. Sounds obvious, right? But, for example: I'm trying to eliminate white carbs. So I've been buying 100% whole wheat bread. I have yet to find a brand I do not hate, and usually I'll choke down a few slices and then leave the rest in the fridge until it molds. Solution: Stop buying bread entirely! Or use bread products that I do like, such as whole wheat pitas. Ditto for pasta; I can't stomach the whole wheat stuff so now I've mostly eliminated it. Though I found brown rice pasta at Aldi that I'm going to try soon. I do like brown rice pasta but it is pretty expensive elsewhere.


lizzzi

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2016, 01:01:05 PM »
+1

WildJager

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2016, 03:26:19 PM »
My solution is to live within a 10-minute walk of the grocery store, shop more often and hold less inventory. It's not the most efficient use of time but it sure avoids waste, and it makes it easier to shop sales and near-expired markdowns.

This is what I do to.  There is a grocery store on my bike route home, and I hit it most days unless I have leftovers I need to it.  I find it enjoyable to plan a meal during the work day if things are slow and then go buy the freshest ingredients to make it right away.  It's kind of my moment of zen after a long day.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #37 on: June 02, 2016, 01:22:02 AM »
I use the same ideas suggested here, basically avoiding grocery stores until I'm all out, and doing the stew/casserole/scrambled eggs approach to use up what's left. I agree it's much harder if you are cooking for one, as lots of produce only comes in larger packs, that would do 5 meals for me.

Personally I limit fresh produce, and tend to rely on frozen (which is fresher anyway, as it's frozen when picked) and dried goods which can be stored. I've got my fresh produce waster minimised, but I need to work on rotation of freezer and pantry stores. It's a bit of a hoarder dilemma, I like having loads of variety of dried beans/grains/pulses, but it's clearly a luxury, and money just sitting in the pantry.

Maya Freegalson

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2016, 05:48:15 PM »
I find that the following dishes are great for using up vegetables:
Frittata - just cook the vegetables slightly, combine with some eggs, fry a bit and bake/broil a bit, and you have a very tasty meal.
Nachos - just throw on top!
Stir-fries are always an option.

Also, don't be afraid to eat some wimpy-looking vegetables. And freezing is an option for many vegetables if you see that you won't be able to use them before they go bad.

Goldielocks

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #39 on: June 08, 2016, 08:49:20 PM »
Guinea Pigs.

Bonus -0- fertilizer for the flower garden.  (made by guinea pigs)

letired

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #40 on: June 08, 2016, 10:17:23 PM »
My ideal state would be to have a "well-stocked pantry" of fruits and vegetables. 

Am I the only one who doesn't think this is a viable goal? You can have a well-stocked pantry, because pantry items are generally non-perishable or long-lasting items like flour, pasta, legumes, etc. Fruits and vegetables just don't fit that rubric. You can't keep a lot of things around, because they just go bad.

Some things I have found to reduce waste for me:
- Buy less than I think I need. If I still have waste, downsize even more.
- Grow my own greens. This is an ongoing process (something is getting my lettuce, but the kale did well over the winter).
- Keep things cold. Everything except garlic goes in the fridge. My fridge is too cold (it freezes things on a regular basis), but it does mean that the head of romaine I bought for salads lasted 2+ weeks.
- Eat bigger salads as main dishes instead of sides.
- Buy more versatile veggies. Spinach instead of lettuce, etc etc etc.
- Look for recipes that call for frozen veggies/fruits. Ie frozen spinach instead of fresh. Then it doesn't matter if you don't get to that meal.

libertarian4321

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #41 on: June 09, 2016, 12:20:23 AM »
Get a dog.  As long as the food doesn't have something "doggy unfriendly" in it (like onions), nothing will go to waste.

That meat or milk that is juuuuust a tad past it's expiration date isn't bad, it's a dog treat.

k_to_the_v

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #42 on: June 09, 2016, 07:13:52 AM »
I live alone and used to have this problem. It came down to two primary issues, both of which have already been touched on:
  • Make sure you are not being an "aspirational" grocery shopper - buying a ton of healthy stuff and feeling virtuous about it, and then not eating it because quite frankly, you don't really like most of that stuff.
  • Make more frequent, smaller grocery trips. This kills two birds with one stone - you buy things that sound good to you at the time (which often don't sound good to you five days later), and you have fewer perishables to work through.

I also have a rotation of meals that I know freeze well, which means I don't get stuck eating the same thing all week. Having backup meals in the freezer also allows me to stretch time between grocery trips and not have to cook on late nights.

Kaspian

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #43 on: June 09, 2016, 01:09:44 PM »
My dad gave me one of those handblenders for my birthday and I love the damn thing.  Absolutely any vegetable that starts to turn gets thrown in a pot, a chicken/veg bouillon cube (and or cream), some water, a fruit for sweetness, and blended after it's been boiled awhile.  Cumin, curry, chilli powder, etc., added at end for flavour.  It also allows you a place to easily use up cauliflower and celery leaves--both which are very good for you and people often throw out.  Healthy soup in less than a half hour.  My favorites so far:  Carrot/leftover spaghetti sauce/curry powder, cucumber/broccoli/apple/cream.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2016, 01:12:15 PM by Kaspian »

Dicey

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #44 on: June 09, 2016, 03:58:13 PM »
There's a wonderful blog called "The Frugal Girl" devoted to reducing food waste. Well, it was moreso until she got so good at it the discussion ranged to other frugal topics as well. I highly recommend it. For your specific situation, I'd start with the old stuff first, as it's more relevant. In the link below, she interviews Jonathan Bloom, another person who's passionate about avoiding food waste.

http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2014/02/interview-jonathan-bloom/

kite

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #45 on: June 09, 2016, 05:02:08 PM »
We switched from Plan-Shop-Cook to Shop-Cook-Plan sequence and this cut the waste as low as we think we can get it. 

We go to the Farmer's Market and eyeball what I can reasonably cook today and eat in the coming week.  Then I go home and cook all the veggies.  Roast what wants to be roasted, saute the greens, turn stems of broccoli into pesto by boiling and mincing fine with garlic and herbs.  It's a process, but when done, my kitchen resembles the prepared food section of Whole Paycheck.  Then I plan meals and assemble many of them. 

This is straight out of Tamar Adler's Everlasting Meal.  The bonus for us: we eat vegetable centric meals now, we throw out less, it saves money because plenty of veggies are free (beet tops, ugly or nicked parsnips or sweet potatoes that no one is buying), having all the prep work done ahead saves time on a busy weeknight. 
It does mean separate trips for vegetables versus other groceries.  I find I'm too tired to cook if I've just lugged home and put away a cart full of every thing, but if I'm only carrying in fruits and veggies, it's a snap to wash & prep. 

Dying apples want to be applesauce.  Peel, core & a dash of salt is enough. Crockpot or pot on the stove, on low. They'll take the addition many other fruits or berries, too. 

Choices

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Re: How might I throw out less fresh food?
« Reply #46 on: June 09, 2016, 05:11:20 PM »
Dehydrating food can help you use up the excess.

You can also plan the last day of the week to be a smoothie day with all your leftovers, or research recipes based on the ingredients you have, just google "recipe with ______"
« Last Edit: September 23, 2016, 04:52:24 PM by Choices »