I designate one day a week as “Use It or Lose It Day.” This is the day when I go through the fridge and methodically take care of all the leftovers, vegetables about to go bad, and other odds and ends. By having one day a week when I regularly do this, I’ve found that I’ve cut down a lot on food waste and am using leftovers more wisely.
Usually, I pick Friday, Saturday or Sunday as the Use It or Lose It Day, depending on what’s going on that weekend. I go through the fridge and pull out:
- cooked leftovers in their various containers
- fresh vegetables and fruits in danger of going bad soon
- raw meat remaining from the last grocery trip
- any small bits of cheese, salami, that one remaining tortilla, etc.
First, I try to assemble a picnic. I cut up fruits and vegetables for snacking. I prepare pretty trays with bits of cheese, cooked meat and salads. Or if inspiration hits me, I throw everything together into a salad, stir-fry, omelet or similar pot-luck dish. The point is to actually eat these tasty bits before they turn on me.
Whatever doesn’t get eaten is marked for freezing, if possible. Large amounts of leftover soups, stews and casseroles are packaged, labeled, dated and put in the standing freezer for later consumption. Vegetables are cleaned, sliced and steamed or blanched, then frozen. Uncooked meats are packaged in single-meal portions, dated and also frozen.
Sometime there is a little bit of food that isn’t palatable for eating or freezing and must get thrown away. But ever since I’ve gotten systematic about using it or losing it once a week, I’ve noticed that I’m throwing away a lot less. I’ve even made it a recurring task in my to-do list.
What do you do to reduce food waste in your kitchen?
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- The Eat What You Have Challenge (timesunion.com)