An excellent way to reduce food wastage in the home is to plan ahead. Create a menu or meal plan for the week, and write a shopping list based on the dishes you choose, remembering to include things like breakfast, snacks and lunch. In my home, we used to shop at least every second day for meals, and our food budget has nearly halved from creating meal plans. Picking up an extra item is fine, but picking up an extra item every time you shop is going to add up in the end. Things like fresh herbs have a short lifespan, so pick those up as needed.
Once you make a list, try to stick to it. Pick up exactly what you need in the amounts you need. If you want fresh ingredients in smaller amounts, check out local farmers markets, or buy from bulk bins.
Some handy free apps to create your shopping lists:
1. Shop smart. Shop efficient.
It can be hard to plan exact portions, especially if cooking for one or your plans change and you decide to order a pizza instead, which happens often enough around my place. You can reuse your leftovers by reusing them for lunch, or simply freezing them to be heated up for an easy, quick meal at a later date.
Once a week have a "Use it up" day, where you look through your cupboards and fridge for ingredients that soon go bad, and create your daily meals based on what you have left. You can do this with your freezer, too! Plan on eating up all that frozen stuff before it gets too old for a cheap meal week.
2. Use up leftovers.
Use the FIFO rule ("First In First Out") and be sure to move your older ingredients to the front of the fridge and put new stuff in the back to make sure the older product gets used first. Keep a list of things you regularly throw away, and reduce or adjust the amount you buy. For example, if you buy fresh bread and throw out half the loaf, consider cutting the loaf in half and freezing it. Buy some labels and date everything you freeze to use it before it becomes too old. Check out this handy freezing guide from Visualistan to see how long foods can be frozen.
3. Keep those scraps and cutoffs.
When you peel onions or carrots and other veg, be sure to save those scraps. Freeze leftover chicken carcasses or bones from meat to create fabulous homemade stocks that taste much better than store-bought varieties, and are lower in sodium. Cheese rinds can add lots of flavour to stock, too! You can use bread that's getting too old for delicious homemade croutons or grind and dry for breadcrumbs. Fruits can be made into jams, or cut up and frozen for smoothies and veggies can be pickled. Cut up old bananas into slices and freeze them to make a simple, healthy homemade ice cream, which you can find here.
4. Take inventory.
Your fridge has different layers of coldness, and understanding where to store specific foods can help to maximize their lifespans as illustrated by Food Republic. Just remember to store meats where they can't drip onto other foods and contaminate them.
5. Understand storage and expiration.
Expiration dates can be a tricky thing. Stores have rules and regulations that they can't legally (knowingly) sell out-of-date merchandise to the consumer, regardless of the freshness of the product. Stores do sweeps to remove products that are expiring and either dispose of them, or mark them down before they are due to expire.
As a consumer, most of these expiration dates can be considered guidelines. Food doesn't know it should be expired on certain dates, and you should throw it out immediately if it becomes self-aware.
Generally, if a food looks and smells fine, then it probably is, but in case you want to know how long certain food products can be stored safely, here is a wonderful chart by Visually.
Hey there! My name is Lea, and I'm a Canadian Culinary student trying to survive chef life in Denmark. I want to share my journey, and some great food and experiences with others. I believe that anyone can be quite chefy!