I decided to finally empty the fridge of all the uneaten leftovers — and felt nothing short of shame
By Shannon Gallagher
“You wouldn’t dare throw this food away, would you?”
Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock
The other day, after I returned from the grocery store, I decided to finally empty the fridge of all the uneaten leftovers and unused produce that was starting to crowd the shelves. I pulled it all out an placed it on the floor, and felt nothing short of shame for the amount of food that had been wasted. Totally not cool. After two trips to the compost bucket, I began putting my groceries away and thought about how much money and waste I could save if I was just a little more conscientious. “Waste not, want not,” right?
Here are a few of the things I came up with. None of them are groundbreaking, but I think they’ll really help me — and hopefully you, too — to cut grocery costs and food waste:
- Only go to the store once a week (every other week, if you’re hardcore). Set your grocery store day and stick to it, that way you’ll be forced to get creative and use what’s lingering in the fridge and pantry.
- To that end, keep some organic frozen veggies in the freezer. They won’t go bad, so if you find yourself out of fresh produce before grocery day, you’ll still have some nutrient-rich veg matter at your disposal. (Because they’re usually frozen right after picking, these veggies can be as nutritious as fresh.)
- If you’re a member of a CSA (which you should be), and you don’t usually get through your full share of produce without it going bad, learn how to can it, or wash, chop, and freeze it now so you can use it later.
- Plan your menu for the week before you go to the store, so that you’ll have everything you need on hand.
- When possible, purchase things like grains, beans, and cereal from the bulk section so the amount you buy is appropriate for your family’s unique size and demand.
- Eat leftovers. Or make smaller recipes.
- If you have a toddler — and let’s be honest, most toddlers eat like birds — get in the habit of only offering them small amounts at a time. Having them ask for more is better than having to scrape dinner off the floor or toss it in the trash, and it’ll make you feel like they like your cooking.
- Compost. That way, even your food waste is being reused!
Green Living Tip of the Week:
One of the best (and most radical) things you can do for the environment is to reduce your consumption. Recycling is great, but using less and reusing more should always be the bread-and-butter of your green-living philosophy. That said, when you do buy, try to do so locally and support companies that share your environmental consciousness. For example, Crayola now uses recycled plastic for their markers, Thirsties wraps their diaper covers in compostable/biodegradable bags, and at UPS, you can offset your carbon emissions from shipping for as low as five cents a package.