Sunday, April 26, 2009

Love Food, Hate Waste

Love Food Hate Waste
• Name of a government sponsored awareness program in the United Kingdom to reduce food waste

Americans waste an astounding amount of food
• Much of the waste is preharvest, or during processing and handling, and from restaurant and cafeteria waste. However a large of amount of food is wasted in our own home kitchens.
• According to a government study, it is estimated 27 % of the food available for consumption is wasted, working out to about a pound of food every day for every American
• This is like bringing home 4 shopping bags of food and throwing away one of the bags immediately.

During these tough economic times, when the food budget is biting us back, decreasing household food wastage is one strategy to make your food dollar stretch farther.
• Food losses happen because of over-preparation, plate discard, cooking losses, and spoilage from foods forgotten in the refrigerator.
• These may sound familiar: Examples are entire heads of lettuce that have gone bad, half-eaten boxes of crackers and sprouted potatoes and onions and end up in the landfill
• Happily here are some easy and practical ways to save money by wasting less food and help the environment as well

Portioning: By planning ahead, you can avoid cooking too much and having a lot of leftovers.
• Too often we have good intentions but usually leftovers end up being thrown out
• Use handy measuring equipment to accurately make the amount of food you need.
• For example, ¼ cup of raw rice makes one adult serving
• Use a Spaghetti Measurer to determine how much pasta to cook. Large amounts of noodles end up in the trash

Planning: Reserve some time to plan meals.
• Many people buy a stock items of groceries, with no thought of what dishes will be made that week. Too often ingredients are not used, and go to waste. Plan 1-2 weeks of menus.
• Shop your cupboards, refrigerator and freezer first before going to the store. Avoids purchasing foods you already have, but forgotten. And those jars of gift jelly, boxes of gourmet wild rice and cans of vegetables used to can be turned into tasty meals.
• Make a list and shop your list. Impulse buying can add a lot to the grocery bill.

Leftovers are actually makeovers.
• If you are not going to eat leftovers within 2-3 days, seal in freezer wrap, date and freeze at 0 degrees. Will make a great for a meal for one.
• Periodically hunt through the fridge and pull out all those scraps of leftover cheese, vegetables and meat. Turn into quiche, quesadillas or omelets
• Check your produce compartments and don’t forget about fresh fruits and vegetable, but use up.
o Any spare fresh tomatoes could be added to some canned ones to make a great topping for pizza.
o Rice would turn leftover chicken and wrinkly peppers into a delicious salad
o Bits and dabs of leftover vegetables, added to canned soup with milk produces a nourishing, quick and nutrient-rich soup. Benefit of dish provides a lot of nutrients for a small amount of calories, and the calcium and other nutrients in milk.
o For a free lunch, take leftover salad, meat and cheese and make a wrap.

Take time to look at use by and expiration dates
• Buy dates with longest shelf life. Then if changing mind about using it, there is still time to eat it before it goes bad.
• Periodically check the use by and expiration dates of the food in your refrigerator. If you know you are not going to use it by the date, then freeze it, using appropriate airtight containers and bags and mark with masking tape/pen. Use within 2 months.
• Buying in bulk saves money on a per item basis, but not if you don’t use it up before it spoils.

A shocking amount of food we buy in the US ends up being thrown away.
• It’s not just banana skins and tea bags.
• Most of that food could be eaten.
• Spend a little time planning ahead, and save money and calories, plus get a healthier diet.