Food waste: Journal your way to results

Keeping a journal improves performance. 

What do you want to improve? Your eating habits? Your exercise regime? How about the amount of food you waste?

Keeping a journal helps you reach your goals. Before I joined Kristen’s food waste brigade, I easily wasted 25% of the food I bought. I just did. I over bought, forgot about things in the fridge and purchased things that no one ultimately ate.

14 weeks later, I see improvement.

Here’s what I have this week:

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Pears– Too much: I got these in my CSA box and summer fruits got eaten instead. 
CherriesToo much: Cherry burnout.

Not bad. It’s a little sad for me to waste fruit when smoothies and juice are possible.

Want to improve something in your life? Set a goal and journal your way to results.

Food waste: Slimy cucumber Part II

The stimulating story of food waste continues this week. Spurred by The Frugal Girl, I’ve been working to become conscious of my food waste by meticulously documenting my wasted food each week.

Last week I got a little carried away. I peeled a slimy cucumber and ate it with a ChimiChurri sauce from the farmer’s market. The cucumber was not super crisp, but was completely edible and I don’t recall a single burp (maybe cucumbers mellow with age?).  

This week I disconnected from the ‘Net in SLOw (San Louis Obispo), but I still managed to waste something.

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Chicken– Cooking mishap: Some overcooked chicken thighs that my kids wouldn’t eat (smart kids).  
PeachYucky: This peach was firm and tasteless. I saved it for a smoothie and the smoothie never happened.
Crisco– Too much: I made two pies with Crisco this year and the rest expired. Anyone have a pie crust recipe that doesn’t use Crisco?

There are many eye-opening statistics on the cost of wasting food. This one is from LoveFoodHateWaste.com:

If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 5 cars off the road.

Wow, that’s a big impact. You can do your part by buying less and eating all that you buy.

How do you reduce your food waste? Share your wisdom in a Comment.

Food waste: Wait, I’ll eat that

I scoured the fridge for dead food and found a pyrex container with leftover chicken and corn. Pyrex? Wiki says Pyrex is a glassware brand introduced by Corning in 1915. Brand name? I use glass and pyrex interchangeably. Oh and I didn’t capitalize Pyrex earlier. Oops! Funny how a brand can lose it’s oomph, like klennex, xerox, or ibm (OK, joking about IBM).

Food waste this week?

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Chicken– Too much: I think these are remnants from a complete bird.  
CornToo much: I cooked corn on the cob and sheared it from the cob. Sacrilege I know, but my front teeth are less capable these days. Remember The Tooth book by Dr Seuss? “Teeth–they come in handy when you chew or smile”!
Cucumber– Wait!

While this cucumber is slimy, it’s not mushy. So out of the food waste pile it goes. A quick peeling, seeding, and it’s back in the eating game.

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So that just leaves chicken and corn, which makes me think of the song Jimmy Crack Corn. Just what is cracking corn? “Cracking corn” is opening a bottle of corn liquor. Jimmy Crack Corn is a story of a slave’s master who died from the sting of a blue-tail fly, despite the slave’s vigilant fly-brushing efforts. Fascinating.

The Internet is simply amazing.

If you don’t see a food waste post from me next week, the slimy cucumber may be the culprit. Or maybe the cracked corn. 

Do you eat things on the edge of spoilage or play it safe?

Food waste: Going on vacation

Another week, another pile of food waste. This week my pile is larger than I’d like, which might be due to house guests or my vacation – and then again, I might just be slackin’ this week.

This week I realized that my pre-vacation activities changed because I’m tracking my food waste. Previously when I went on vacation I would just go on vacation. I never peeked in the fridge. Why would I? I’m going on vacation.

Fast forward to today, before my last vacation. I looked in my fridge for things I could freeze, cook and freeze or eat. My breakfast before heading to the airport was two tomatoes that were about to spoil. I must say I’m pleasantly surprised by this. Documenting my family’s food waste continues to surprise me. 

Here’s my pile this week:

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Aerial view helps make the pile look smaller

Cherries– Possibly bad: My daughter had a gastro issue after eating these and I didn’t want to chance it. 
ChardToo much: So many greens, so little time.
PastaToo much: Made too much.
OnionForgotten: Found lurking in the back of the fridge.

Need some tips? This week I stumbled on a great food waste post at Small Notebook: 20 Tips to Waste Less Food. Here are a couple ideas that were new to me:

Leftover wine can be frozen in ice cube trays, and then later added to simmering meat dishes or spaghetti sauce. Or if you have an abundance of lemons and limes you can squeeze the juice into ice cub trays and freeze.

Do you have food waste tips, tricks or stories? Post a Comment.

Food waste: What gets wasted

The thing that I waste most often is produce; I get something in my CSA box that I’m never in the mood for, like say cabbage.

The item that I waste most often is lettuce. The fridge life of lettuce is relatively short and the purpose is rather singular: salad. Spinach seems to fair better at my house. I can chop up spinach and add it to omelets or stir frys. That said, my food waste pile includes spinach this week. Oops.

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Cabbage – Very limited demand: CSA box item. Cabbage recipes anyone?
SpinachToo much: Too many greens.

Why track food waste? Tracking food waste helps you change your buying habits. If something is repeatedly in the food waste pile, you can consider:

a.  Not buying that item
b.  Developing a better strategy for using it

How about you? What food item do you waste the most? Please leave a Comment.

Food waste: What doesn’t get wasted

This week I got to thinking about what food doesn’t get wasted in my house. 

I don’t waste:

  • Yogurt, milk, butter, cheese, ice cream

Oh no, my dear friend dairy is prominent. What else?

  • Cereal
  • Eggs
  • Mango
  • A crisp organic apple
  • Blueberries – we’re true Pacific Northwest folks
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts

When I reflect on what doesn’t get wasted, I end up with a list of favorites. Which leads me to a rather obvious conclusion – favorites are not wasted. Want to waste less? Just buy your favorites… in moderation. Ah yes, everything in moderation.

This week I was OOT (out of town) a few days, but sadly that doesn’t mean no food waste. Nope, I managed to forage in my cavernous fridge and find some dead food. 

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  • Droopy, slimy spinach
  • A few tortillas going green
  • Cream (I thought I liked cream in my coffee, but I don’t)

How about you? What doesn’t get wasted at your house? Please leave a Comment.

Food waste: Is it still good?

Yesterday, we had a is it still good? moment. My younger daughter wanted chocolate with her vanilla ice cream. I told her we might have some chocolate syrup. My older daughter was highly skeptical; “Mom, that syrup is old.”

To which I replied, “Yes, but it still might be good. When we get home, we can check Still Tasty dot com.”

Eager for chocolate, my younger daughter asked me to ‘check the computer’ when we got home. My older daughter thought I was kidding about Still Tasty dot com, but I wasn’t. Still Tasty is an amazing food advisor. No longer do you need to wonder if a food item is still good, or should I say still tasty.

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For chocolate syrup – Still Tasty advises a year in the fridge, and if the syrup develops an off odor, flavor or appearance… discard. I took this to mean that you can go beyond a year, as long as it passes a sniff and taste test. My youngest eagerly performed the test. Hmm. Maybe I should have been the tester. Oh well, she seems mostly OK today.

So the next time you’re thinking, eat it or pitch it? – check Still Tasty. Of course, the ol’ sniff and taste test works too.

OK, so here’s my food waste for the week.

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Why, it’s a bowl full of miscellaneous produce.

At the bottom there are six chunks of cantaloupe hiding. Next there’s some lettuce, an apple and some cilantro on top.

Cilantro? I’ve never frozen fresh herbs. I suppose the texture would be funky, but OK for soup or a saute. Right? What do you do with herbs that are nearing expiration? Please add a comment.