Food Fight: Combating Kitchen Food Waste

Food waste articles report that somewhere close to 40 million tons of food is wasted in homes across the United States. “A typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year.” The primary culprit is that food we buy goes bad before we ever get around to using it. Here are some tips on how to avoid having to throw so much away.

Food Freezing
Freezing food is a great way to preserve food that you might not use right away, but want to keep for an extended period of time. There are a few cautionary notes and suggestions involved in food freezing. Proper packaging is key to ensuring food doesn’t lose its nutritional value and taste in the freezer.

Julie Garden-Robinson’s Food Freezing Guide suggests that you pack food tight and make sure air is out of the packaging. Label each package with the date and product and arrange it in the freezer so the food that’s been in the longest is up front and can easily be used first.

While pretty extensive, the Garden-Robinson Food Freezing Guide is something I find extremely useful. There is information about freezing all types of food from meat to produce, and even eggs and cakes.

Grocery List/Meal Plan 
Combating food waste begins outside the home in the grocery store.  A great way to prevent so much food waste is to practice smart shopping. Before leaving to the supermarket, see what foods you already have and incorporate them into a meal.  If you don’t have everything you need to make that meal put those needed items on the grocery list. Don’t shop on impulse. You are more likely to buy too much food you won’t use if you do.

For more tech savvy shoppers, there are iPhone apps that allow you to create a mobile grocery list.

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Composting
Consider the feasibility of starting a small-scale compost in your kitchen or yard. Trust me, it’s not too hard.

Compost size? What do you have space for? Even if you live in a small apartment and have no yard you can still craft a small indoor compost.

Steps:
-Add soil to a plastic bin.
-Get some worms. Red wigglers eat fruit and vegetable scraps, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags and leftover bread and grains. They do best without meat or fish scraps or fatty, oily foods.
-Keep wet/dry balance.

What to do with your compost when it’s ready:
When the compost starts to resemble dark, crumbly soil (usually in one to four months), it is time to harvest your vermicompost. Vermicompost starts becoming toxic to the worms if left in the worm bin for too long. Sprinkle vermicompost into your seed rows to give your plants a source of nutrients when they sprout.

Recipes for Using Up Produce:
Unless frozen, fresh produce doesn’t keep in the refrigerator for more than a week or so. If you have fruits and veggies that are nearing expiration you don’t have to throw them out. They can be made into a meal or snack!

FRUIT SMOOTHIE
3 servings. 135 calories, 2 g fat
Ingredients
½ cup of blueberries or any kind of berry
1 ripe banana
1 orange peeled and sectioned
1 cup of milk
4 crushed ice cubes

 Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

*During the summer time, I use peaches that fall off of our tree. They might be a little bruised but in the smoothie you can’t even tell.

VEGGIE QUESADILLA
Ingredients
1 flour tortilla
Variety of vegetables –chopped
Minced garlic to taste
½  cup of cheese

 Sauté vegetables in a small frying pan with some olive oil. I like to use broccoli, tomatoes, and green chile, but really, you can use anything that you have. In summer, fresh garden vegetables are very nice.

Cut some slices of any type of cheese. This recipe is for 2 quesadillas, it will need to be about 1 cup of cheese total.

Melt the cheese into a large flour tortilla, add in the cooked vegetables and cook on a skillet until the quesadilla is hot throughout.

Posted by Caitlin

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