I hate to admit it, but I am living in a household that seems to be committing a crime of sorts; produce waste all.the.time. I wrote a post not too long ago about having a zero waste kitchen, but there are some habits that I have been having a hard time breaking and one of them is produce waste. Every 2 weeks when I clean out the fridge, I find myself throwing out produce; probably a couple hundred dollars worth a year, to be honest. It’s not only aggravating because it is literally money I am tossing in the garbage, but I think of how as a whole, we as a nation throw out so much food when there are places and people (some in our own country) that are literally starving. I got tired of it and decided to do something about it. Here is how I am solving the produce waste problem in my house.
How to Avoid Produce Waste
Make a grocery list and stick to it. Don’t just buy produce with no plans on how you will use it just because it’s habit or on sale because it’s in season. Creat a weekly meal plan and stick to it, only buying what you need in the exact amounts you need for the recipe.
Plan to buy produce a couple of times a week. Some produce goes bad so quickly, you will not be able to use it up fast enough should you run into a night where the dinner you planned to make can’t be cooked because you are shorter on time than you thought. To combat this issue, I hit the grocery store a couple times a week for ‘produce runs’. I make sure I come with a list and only buy those items, sticking only to the produce section of the store and then going directly to the counter to pay.
Freeze produce you have extra of. Even if you think you bought the right amount, it still happens that you have more than you actually needed. Instead of sticking the bag back in the fridge to get forgotten about, chop it up and freeze right away. Make sure to label the date you put it in and use it for everything from smoothies, to soups and casseroles.
Create a ‘Use First’ bin in your fridge. I use those organization bins you can buy for the fridge. They really help me keep things organized. With one of them, I turned it into a ‘use first’ bin so when my teenage stepdaughter comes home ravenous after a day at school, she knows that she can go to the ‘use first’ bin and make herself a snack or salad for her after school hunger. This is where I place things that are still useful but for whatever reason didn’t end up in the freezer.
Keep a running inventory of what you have before hitting the store and ‘shop’ your fridge first. When doing your weekly meal planning, shop your fridge first and plan those meals that will use the items in it first as well so the produce gets used up.
More Tips for Your Kitchen: