Mama to : '05, '08, '10 and expecting our 3rd January '13
We eat dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.
On Saturday, I take all the veggies that aren't yet eaten, chop them up and add them to the crock pot with broth and herbs. Then I take all the leftover fruit, peel and chop it and top it with crumble topping. Then we have delicious soup and fruit crumble with virtually no effort.
That's what I do every Saturday, assuming we have leftover veggies and fruit. Then we go snowshoing and come home and dinner's already made, and I don't have to throw out $$ of food.
Oh, and I never use the vegie drawer. I keep leftovers and drinks on the top shelf, breads and proteins on the middle shelf, veggies on the bottom shelf. Then everyone can see what there is to eat.
Last January, I decided I would work on one habit that cost us money: throwing out bad, unused food was it. Because we grocery shop on Sunday while we're in town, I make Saturday my clean the fridge day. Even though I plan meals, and make a specific list to go with those meals, I usually end up not cooking one of the meals because I'm too tired and will do sandwiches instead. Before I started doing this, I would've planned the next week's meals forgetting the unused food.
Now, I empty out the fridge and write down what fresh fruits and veggies are left over and not used for the week. Then I plan the next week's meals including what I still have and making sure they are used on Sunday or Monday so they won't go bad by the end of the week. I do NOT do a month menu, because imagine if I bought for it, didn't cook one meal a week, and had all of that extra spoil! I added up our grocery expenses for 2005, and we spent $200 less, even though I was pregnant and breastfeeding and eating more, we saved money by making sure we used what was in the fridge.
Missionary, birth-worker, midwifery student
Mama to DD (9yr), DS (3yr), & UC twin DDs (5yr)
Now I meal-plan. First I rummage through fridge and cupboards and make a list (on paper or in my head) of what we need to use up and which meals I can make with them. Then I start my shopping list with the ingredients I need to complete those meals. Then I number the meals and add additional meal ideas for however many meals I am shopping for (a week, two weeks, etc - usually my shopping period coincides with my DH's pay period) and the ingredients I need. Mostly I only do this with dinners - lunch is dinner leftovers (with a little practice you can adjust recipes so you end up wtih exactly enough). But I also have a list of "standard" breakfasts and kid-friendly lunches (cereal, PB&J, etc) - I do the same thing with this list, see what we have on hand and then add to my shopping list the items we need in the amounts we need to get through the shopping period. I keep nonperishable staples stocked as well (baking supplies, spices, etc).
Then each night I look at my meals list and choose one meal from the list - I don't get rigid about matching a particular meal to a particular night beforehand. Whichever meal we feel like that is on the list that we haven't yet had in that shopping period, I make. By the end of the shopping period I'm getting more and more creative to use stuff up, but it all works out.
The day before I shop, I inventory my fridge - I compost or dump whatever is too old or definitely not going to get eaten, tidy up and assess what is left, and start the above process. I make a mental note of what did not get eaten up and why (Did we forget about it and let it sit until it was iffy? Did I make too much? Was is just yucky and no one wanted it?) I keep two pads of paper stuck to my fridge - one for an ongoing list of things we need at the store, and the other to remind myself of things to eat up or to be sure to make during the current shopping period (so I don't wander around thinking "we have nothing to eat" when I could be making popcorn or granola or hummus, or eating the leftover pancakes I threw in the freezer and forgot about).
It took me awhile to get to this point - take baby steps if you need to. It really, really, really helps me to hit the store with a plan. If I buy something "because it looks good," without a meal to use it in, it rots. If you like whim buying, you could give yourself some options like "veggie soup" or "stirfry" where you can put on your list "buy three vegetables for stirfry" or "buy one grain to put in soup (quinoa, rice, millet, etc)" and then decide when you get there.
Chaotic mama to 5 plus a bonus one on the way.
One thing that helps, though, is to meal plan, and then prep the veggies when I get home from the store. (For example, if I buy broccoli for stir fry, I will cut it up into the right-sized pieces as I am putting all of my groceries away.) I store the prepped veggies in freezer bags in the deep freeze. This is a two-pronged approach in that 1) the veggies are all ready when I come home from a long day at work and I can just cook them, and 2) if I change my mind and don't use them as I had planned to use them, they just wait in the deep-freeze until I am ready to use them. (Either way, no waste! )
I freeze leftovers in (re-usable) freezer containers (Gladware, Ziploc, etc.). I also second the notion of one of the previous posters in that I have an empty 3-lb margerine container that lives in the "above the fridge" freezer, and I put into it any left-over veggies that are still fine to eat, but not enough for another meal. When the container gets full, I put it in the Crock-Pot with broth and herbs and cook it for soup. The other leftovers are put into the deep-freeze and eventually get re-born as new entrees...and they stay fit to eat in the meantime.
Hope this helps with your "fuzzy" problem
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to follow my epic saga of single mummahood....
I also cook in smaller quantities than I used to. Sometimes, I make just enough for dinner with enough left over for my lunch the next day and that is it. We still toss some stuff, but we are not tossing as much as before.
Another thing I did was cut junk. My kids went from homeschooling to private and public schools and what they ate cahnged dramatically. Over a few months, once loved veggies and fruits were totally resisted. I tried differnt methods and then had success: I stopped buying fresh fruits and saldad fixings and started packing junk food in their lunches (no lunch program at school). They wanted junk, I gave it to them!
The ystarted daydreaming at dinner of crispy salads and juicy fruits - to a deaf ear. I let them suffer until the third week - and then I bought a modest amout of fruit. Now I can't keep enough in the house. They let me know when it's time to buy more - and I let it come to that point. They've leearned a good lesson.
Another thing I do is to do all of the prep work when it comes to fresh fruit/veggies. For example, when I bring home a watermelon I cut it up into bite size pieces and put it away in a large, clear gladware bin. Clear is a key here b/c if DH can't see it, he won't eat it. (tee hee...a good way to hide a piece a cheese cake for me to eat later in the week is to put it in a solid colored tupperware container ). Otherwise, that watermelon will just rot in my refrigerator.
In my never ending quest to get my DH to eat more fruit I realized (after about a year of married life) that DH is lazy. Hungry, but lazy. He can find an apple in the fridge but that is about it. Anything that remotely involves work, he doesn't eat.
Last week I almost fell out of my chair when DH went into the kitchen for something to eat and he returned with a salad! And the only reason why he got a salad was b/c I had already done all the prep work:
-Cleaned, wedged iceburg lettuce in one large Gladware bin with 2 pieces of paper toweling on the bottom.
-cleaned leaf lettuce in another large Gladware bin with paper toweling
-cleaned, sliced cucumbers, onions, radishes, celery, peppers, etc., each in seperate, smaller gladware containers.
This way, if something goes bad quick (like the cucumbers) you just pitch the cucumbers, not an entire salad.
Hope this helps cheers
We still throw out food sometimes, but we're also grabbing clean and cut fruits and veggies for snacks more often too, because they are available.
Mama to:Ben (12), Natalie (9), Zoe (5)
Today, we had yogurt smoothies with strawberries, some really mushy guava, grated carrot, and a big handful of spinach. The fruit is tasty and sweet enough to disguise the taste of the greens, so that even my picky toddler will drink it down with no problem. We get all the goodness of the veggies, nothing is wasted, and these smoothies are hearty enough to be lunch all by themselves.
It was MDC mamas who suggested hiding veggies in smoothies, with the original purpose of getting DD to eat them, but I must say it's also a solution to wasted produce.
It helps, too, that I have a bottomless pit for a DH, and he'll eat anything, even stuff you or I would have thrown away.