As you know to eat healthier can be expensive. One way to lower the cost of healthy food is not to waste. We are talking here about food waste. Waste reduction is one of the buzzwords of the moment, just like kale was a few years back (sorry kale, you are out). However, waste reduction has its merits in many ways.
I always recommend the highest quality ingredients in our food for many reasons. In our age bracket (perimenopausal or menopausal goddesses) we are trying to balance our hormones, keep our bones strong and be healthy to avoid all the “illnesses” that plague people in midlife. The common complaint from my clients, and a valid one, is that healthy food is more expensive. Because of this, it is important not to waste it.
How can you avoid food waste?
These are the tips I practice and give good results.
Plan your menus
This will simplify your life, avoid recipe burnout or boredom, you will eat healthier and it will help you buy just what you need (and save money).
Before going shopping, use what you already have
Before heading to the supermarket, head to the refrigerator. This is an opportunity to do a light cleaning of the fridge and take inventory. Use most of what you already have or plan recipes to use them first, before shopping.
When you bring in your shopping, use the first in last out system
This is related to the previous point. Use the ingredients that you already have before the new ones. Also use first the ones that go bad quicker, such as greens.
If you are not going to use something, freeze it (and put a date on the package)
If you think you don’t want to use something, see if you can freeze it to use later. If you have tomatoes going bad, prepare a sauce and freeze it. If the meat is expiring, cook it and freeze it. They come out very handy when you are in a hurry. But don’t forget what you have in the freezer, plan when you will use it.
Be creative with your leftovers
This is fun. Mix and match, create new recipes. My favorite is tacos of different flavors, soups and stir fries.
Use it all
When you are not going to use a part of something think what you can do with it. Use the herbs’ stems or part of the veggies you will not typically use to make broth. For example with asparagus, you can use the tough parts to make broth or soup. The cilantro or parsley stems can be put in soups, broth, sauces or smoothies. With bones and small pieces of meat you can make bone broth.
Make an effort to put everything in the right place. You may want to put dates on your meats and dairy.
Be careful buying giant sizes
Unless your family is big, be careful buying big sizes, especially condiments such as mayo and ketchup. Veggies and fruits tend to lose nutrients, the longer you keep them at home, the less nutritious they will be.
Fresh always tastes better. Fresh animal products taste better. Fresh veggies taste better than frozen and canned ones. The fresher the better, so when it comes to flavor and nutrients it is better to buy smaller amounts more frequently.
Keep an eye on the pantry
Many times we forget what we have and don’t use it. Make it part of your routine to check your pantry every month or so and see what is about to expire. Find creative ways to use what you have before shopping.
Leftovers are great for times when we don’t or can’t cook. Try to use them soon after storing them. If you plan your menus you will have less leftovers.
Prefer dry beans and lentils
Dry beans and lentils are cheap or cheaper than cans, don’t have salt, preservatives or contaminants, and they taste better. Lentils are easy to cook. Beans are not difficult if you leave them soaking overnight and/or if you use an Instapot or a pressure cooker.
Should you buy organic?
When possible, buy the highest quality; this is especially true for animal products. Milk, eggs and meat should come from animals raised in natural conditions. For cows (meat and milk) this is 100% grass fed, pasture raised, preferably organic. For chicken and eggs, pasture raised preferably organic. Fish from responsible sources and preferably non-farmed (but this depends on the species).
Organic veggies and fruits are generally better if they are equally fresh. But it is better to consume veggies and fruits even if they are not organic than to avoid buying them because the organic ones are too expensive or too difficult to get. Try to buy organic leaves, such as spinach, kale, arugula, chard, lettuce, etc. Home grown is best, local and organic is second, local non organic is third, organic and fresh is fourth.
Remember organic ingredients are cheaper, healthier and usually tastier than eating out.
Kindness and keep trying
We are not perfect, we can only do our best and even with the best efforts sometimes we cannot save some food. But with prices increasing, it is a good idea to incorporate new ways to avoid waste.
How do you avoid waste? Let me know in the comments.