Unless you have a human garbage disposal at home (a.k.a. a teenage boy) who’ll eat literally anything, yours is probably like most American families—wasting food.
In fact, the average American throws out $1,365 to $2,275 worth of food each year! Can you imagine tossing that much money to the curb with your trash can?
Whether you’re buying in excess or cooking and serving more than your family will eat at mealtimes, add Super Saver Mom to the list of your amazing talents with these tips to for eliminating food waste for good.
Go Pro with FIFO
To combat food waste and save dollars, restaurants use the “First In, First Out” rule, or FIFO. Think of your kitchen as a restaurant with small profit margins—you’d be out of business in no time if you kept throwing food away.
The idea is simple: store items with the earliest expiration date in front of food with a later date. Rotate that roast that’s on the verge of freezer burn to the top of the freezer. Move perishables like fruit, vegetables, cheese and yogurt to the front of your fridge. Organize your pantry so that opened boxes of cereal, rice and pasta are first in line.
Grab a permanent marker and date your tomato sauce, salsa, mayo, etc. when you open them to ensure you use foods before they expire. And before you put that leftover chili in the freezer, make sure you mark it with the date it was cooked before storing.
Store it to Last
Don’t unintentionally spoil your food! Modern refrigerators cool from top to bottom with the warmest temperatures in the door. Store highly-perishable items like milk, eggs and juice in the core of the fridge, not in the door.
Most foods will keep well in a fridge that is maintained below 40 degrees and a freezer maintained below 0 degrees. But for those sensitive fruits and veggies, use your crisper! Store greens and herbs like asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers and lettuce in the high-humidity drawer. In the low-humidity drawer, keep apples, apricots, cantaloupe, melon and pitted fruits.
Waste Not, Want Not
The biggest food waste culprits that end up in a landfill are fresh fruits and veggies. So throw that wilting baby spinach and those extra-ripe berries into the blender for a yummy green smoothie. The kids get a deliciously healthy treat, and you save a few more bucks from getting thrown out with the trash.
Find yourself constantly tossing fresh fruit and veggies? Try purchasing a combo of fresh and frozen instead. Or, if you find you’ve purchased too many berries, bananas or greens for your family to get through this week, freeze them for later. Naturally sweet frozen bananas are perfect in smoothies and banana bread, and frozen greens like spinach and kale can be easily added to soups and stir-fry.
Make a Plan and Write it Out
Ever walked into the grocery store without a list and come out an hour or so later with a cart full of anything and everything that caught your eye? Rookie mistake. Lack of meal planning and skipping the grocery list result in the most food waste by far.
Start your meal-planning and list-making journey by taking stock of what you already have in your fridge and freezer. Plan your first meals around anything you have that’s approaching expiration. Work up to planning at least 50 percent of your meals ahead of time, and make a grocery list with the ingredients you need for each meal.
For those busy, unplanned days, create five go-to easy meals or food themed meal ideas. Bonus if you can throw in “on-their-way-out-the-door” fruits, veggies or dairy, like this muffin pan quiche — perfect for eggs about to expire, wilted herbs and soft tomatoes.