My recent focus on cutting down or eliminating food waste has made me more aware when I am in the grocery store. I am less likely to walk through on autopilot, tossing the same old items into my car. Now I try to think about each thing I’m buying and why I’m buying it. (I also feel more pain each time I toss spoiled food into the trash can or composter, and renew my pledge not to waste.)
One thing I’ve discovered is that it’s usually a mistake to buy fresh food, like produce or dairy, in large quantities, even if it is on sale. I’d rather make one more trip to the store each week than throw out food we didn’t get around to eating. We are a small family, so instead of buying an entire bag of potatoes or apples, for instance, I’ve found it’s better to buy just what I think we’ll eat in the next few days. I used to buy a week’s worth of fruit at a time, but there was inevitable spoilage. Now I only buy two or three pieces of each kind of fruit that we want and make sure we eat them.
The caveat to this is that it’s sometimes better to buy in bulk, but only if I have a plan for the food. For example, if something is on sale, like chicken or broccoli, I will stock up and freeze the excess immediately after I get home. I will also buy a large number of cheap apples, if I know I’m going to get around to making applesauce that day.
This brings me to my next tip. We eat more food if I prepare it for eating soon after bringing it home from the store, rather than waiting for when we want to eat it. For instance, I tear and wash fresh lettuce right after I get home, so I’m always ready to make a salad for lunch or dinner; if I have room in the fridge, I’ll store the lettuce in my salad spinner. Or I’ll peel and grate a large quantity of carrots for snacking, salads and sandwiches right away. Food that I don’t want to prepare right away, I divvy up for meals and freeze any excess.
What tips are you using to keep from wasting fresh food?