There's been a lot of information lately on how much food we Americans waste.
I just saw a sign in the grocery store that said that 40% of the food we buy is wasted.
That's a lot of waste.
The sign said: use it, store it, share it, just don't waste it.
I've been thinking about it a lot for some reason. I've never liked wasting food: throwing away leftovers that nobody ate, throwing away produce that went bad in my refrigerator.
I'm trying to do my part to not waste food and I've stepped up my efforts in the last few years so I thought I'd share a few of the things that I do.
I know that not everyone has the freezer space to freeze a bunch of extra stuff but most of these ideas don't take a lot of extra space. And as long as you remember what you are storing, it's easy to regularly use these saved items.
tomato paste-it seems like most of my recipes call for about 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste and then the rest of that little can is just wasted. So I put the rest of the can into an ice cube tray and freeze them. After they are frozen, I transfer the little cubes (1 Tb per cube) into a smaller baggie. Those little cubes are easy to throw into the next recipe.
Chicken broth etc.-I often have recipes that use some, but not all, of the broth in one of those cartons. I usually put it in the refrigerator for a bit in case I need it in another recipe but after a day or two I transfer the broth into some silicone cupcake holders that I have. I freeze these and once they are frozen, I transfer the 1/2 cup amounts into a gallon size baggie. These keep for a long time and are easy to throw into any recipe. This same thing can be done for tomato sauce, buttermilk, regular milk and pretty much any liquid that you use in recipes. I love it for buttermilk, which never gets used up in a recipe but is oh-so-handy to have in the house.
Produce-I have even taken to freezing produce if it's starting to go bad. Many different kinds of produce can be used in soups or stews after freezing. Carrots, potatoes, turnips, spinach, onions and more.
I also freeze the seemingly useless parts of my produce: the peels of the carrots, the ends and outside of the onions etc. and I put them all together in a baggie for use in making my own broth. I keep bones from roasts or steaks and the carcasses of chickens or turkey and freeze them as well and then I combine the bones and the produce and make broth. Obviously I only use one type of bone in the broth...so I either make chicken broth or beef broth, I don't combine them. The broth can then be canned for further use (must have a pressure canner).
If produce is starting to look a bit rough, make a recipe into which you can throw it! Stew, soup and meatloaf are a few great places to hide a variety of produce.
Zucchini is a problem, not gonna lie. Anyone who has ever grown a zucchini plant knows that they are prolific. There's a joke that goes something like this: Always lock your car when you go to church in Utah or you might find that someone has put a zucchini in your car while you weren't looking. They are just everywhere. And, honestly, I don't care for zucchini. Frank loves fried zucchini and he will make it on occasion. I like zucchini bread but don't make it that often plus it feels like I'm taking something healthy and making it unhealthy! I do put zucchini in soups and stews. Anyway, over the years I have dealt with it mostly by shredding it and freezing it so that I can use it to make bread in the winter months. Having said that, I now have a plant producing one to two zucchini a day and I still have a bunch from last year in my freezer since I only made bread a couple of times. I have also made zucchini bread or muffins in big batches and frozen the extra which works well...you just have to remember it's there so it doesn't get freezer burn before you eat it. Zucchini bread is one area where the "share it" portion of not wasting comes into play. Most people are happy to receive a loaf of zucchini bread but not necessarily a fresh zucchini.
Anyone who follows my blog knows that I can every year.
I actually really like canning, even though I don't enjoy cooking in general.
There's just something about canning food for use later that makes me feel so... I don't know...self sufficient!
I buy way too many peaches every year because I love love love fresh peaches. I can some of them and freeze some of them for my enjoyment later. Home canned peaches are way better than canned peaches from the store. And frozen peaches are a tasty treat anytime of the year!
I also can lots of tomato products each year because of Frank's garden. I've made a variety of different types of foods. Diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce (very yummy), tomato basil soup, as well as my attempt at sloppy joe sauce. We like Manwich around here for our sloppy joes and I admit that my home made version isn't quite the same, so we usually combine one of mine with one store bought and it tastes really good.
So those are some of my ideas for lowering the food waste in my household!