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what are some better options to using food instead of wasting it so we know for the future?
 

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soups and casseroles? a diligent effort to eat the leftovers rather than let them sit in the fridge.<br><br>
i don't like plastic, so i've phased out the tupperware type containers and replaced it with pyrex w/lids. they're clear so i can SEE what's available. that has helped, too.
 

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I think that, if you know you won't eat canned foods anywhere near the expiration date, then maybe it is best to really limit how many you buy, you know? Buy for exactly one week, and force yourself to use those up before you buy more.<br><br>
And, if you find cans in your pantry that are nearing the best-by date, then by all means, donate them to the local food pantry so that someone can enjoy them.
 

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I posted in that thread but I'll post here too - sorry for some of the repetition.<br><br>
Also I do waste food; this is just how I try not to.<br><br>
First way I try is by how I a) plan and b) track our pantry stores. I do shop sales, but I try not to overbuy (I stick to what will fit in our pantry cupboard) and I rotate the older cans forward when I put things away.<br><br>
In planning I mostly leave one meal per week a "pantry" (mostly canned/freezer/dry) meal so that if our plans change that meal can be taken off the schedule without any immediate waste. Where things are fresh I try to underbuy, not overbuy - I can always figure out something to eat but there's not much to be done about too much lettuce other than compost it.<br><br>
I also plan the use of leftovers (this means from serving dishes, not from people's plates; we serve family-style mostly). Most weeks we have one soup or stew on Thursday or Friday so that I can throw the "dribs and drabs" of vegetables, meat, potatoes, etc. into the pot. I also use things like carrot peelings, chicken bones, etc. to make the stock for the soup (I make on the weekend, cool, skim off the fat, and then freeze in ziploc bags flat) as a part of the waste elimination bit.<br><br>
Other ways I use up leftovers as ingredients: in quiche, omlettes, pot pies, pasta sauce, stir fries, as pizza toppings, etc. For example, I'll roast zucchini/eggplant/onions/red peppers together and that will be a side dish one night and then can be a pizza topping or a quiche component or tossed with pasta another night.<br><br>
One of our stranger -- but frequently extremely yummy -- ways of using leftovers is to have a hash; I dice onion and potato as the base and then after they've fried up, I throw in diced meat, leftover veggies, and even lentils or baked beans. You have to be willing to experiment with that kind of thing but I find as long as the components are in the same flavour profile - leaning towards barbecue, or leaning towards italian, or whatever - it works pretty well.<br><br>
I also create wraps with things like leftover curry in a tortilla = "roti;" leftover chicken + newly fried up peppers and onions become fajitas. Leftover rice becomes a stir fry; leftover pasta never seems to last in our house but can be a part of a soup or baked as pasta al forno.<br><br>
We eat leftovers for lunch at least some of the time (the grownups; my son is fed at his daycare) and sometimes have a "mixed leftovers dinner" like in the Incredibles. It's starting to sound repetitive but actually I think we have a lot of fun with food...we try to use what we have first before going onto the next dish.<br><br>
You can probably tell I don't stick to a recipe. If something really flops there's always peanut butter. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> We've eaten this way my son's whole life so that's what he's used to, but if he doesn't like a creation it's okay.<br><br>
Then I use my freezer - if vegetables & meat are about to go bad I will either blanch & freeze the veggies, or make an extra soup or stew and freeze that, often in individual containers for lunches. Then about once every two months we have a week of eating several meals from the freezer so it doesn't become a wasteland (I don't have a big freezer). I check the fridge 2-3 times a week just as a habit at this point.<br><br>
For yoghurt I mostly buy plain because it can become stroganoff or part of a tortilla casserole if it's going out of date. Condiments I actually buy smaller jars even if it's a little pricier because I don't like the waste, with the exception of ketchup (which we seem to be able to go through) and mayo (which I can use in baking).<br><br>
I am picky about dates for a lot of things, but I recognize that I err on the conservative side. I just try to keep track so we use things up. Freezer burn doesn't bother me; I use that in stews after cutting off the worst bits.<br><br>
For my CSA this year (my first!) I learned a lot and there was some waste; the biggest lesson was if it looked like too much of something, deal with that <i>right then</i> - either pickle it then, freeze it (either alone or in casseroles), or give it away. Don't wait for the magic day we will suddenly want to eat 7 lbs of beets. Our neighbours got a lot of cabbage and potatoes this year and somehow that's magically turned into banana bread from them to us - score! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
My other fortunate superpower is the Sunday dinner - if we are suffering from a glut I invite local family over for Sunday dinner and then send them home with extras. With the CSA I also sometimes brought produce into work and my coworkers took care of it.
 

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Since I started cooking from scratch with fresh produce, I reduced the amount of food we waste by a lot.<br><br>
I start my meals with produce, rather than anything else. In other words, instead of saying "we're having beef tonight" I will say "hmm, there's bok choi, let's have stir fry" (and maybe I'll add beef to that).<br><br>
I only buy 2-4 cuts of meat at a time and keep them in the freezer. It's true, I don't always remember to thaw it in time for a given meal, but I'll just put it in the fridge for the next day and make something else for dinner that day. (In a pinch, I may thaw in cool water). I assume I have at least 6 months to eat the meat (but it never lasts more than maybe 4 weeks), but anyway it's never been an issue for me.<br><br>
I seem to have a good handle on portions, but anything left over I will either eat for lunch the next day, or I'll throw into a soup within a few days.<br><br>
I think a big thing is the shift to cooking from scratch. While I absolutely do use recipes, I don't RELY on them (and might throw in different things), and I also use recipes that call for staples. So I don't even have to know what vegetables I'm getting from my CSA to know that rice, milk, eggs, cheese, beans, spices, meat will cover it.<br><br>
Not only that, but cooking from scratch means I extract a lot more value from the food. We had a turkey for Thanksgiving, and all that was left of that sucker was the bones (whose marrow I hope I also extracted to some extent). I made broth from the carcass, froze some of the shredded meat for turkey salad (will probably do that next week), and the greasiest of the meat at least went to the cats.<br><br>
So our waste for me and DH is very, very low. I have to admit that the waste for DD is very, very high, and I hate it. DH will give her a huge salad bowl of cereal, she'll eat 2 bites, and then 2 cups of milk and 1/5 of a cereal box will be down the drain. I HATE THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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BetsyS wrote: I think that, if you know you won't eat canned foods anywhere near the expiration date, then maybe it is best to really limit how many you buy, you know? Buy for exactly one week, and force yourself to use those up before you buy more.<br><br>
And, if you find cans in your pantry that are nearing the best-by date, then by all means, donate them to the local food pantry so that someone can enjoy them.<br>
______________<br><br>
In our state, they won't accept donations from private parties (other than money of course) of food. Or at least in our area. The FOOD has to come directly from the store. Liability laws about such things...<br><br>
And it is my money and my food... my right to throw it out, ya know? I'm not proud of it, but it's what I have done and probably will do. Better than not having enough food in the house in case I do need it for a recipe or something...
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mom0810</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14741751"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">And it is my money and my food... my right to throw it out, ya know?</div>
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Wow, the entitlement.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mom0810</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14741751"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">In our state, they won't accept donations from private parties (other than money of course) of food. Or at least in our area. The FOOD has to come directly from the store. Liability laws about such things...<br><br>
And it is my money and my food... my right to throw it out, ya know? I'm not proud of it, but it's what I have done and probably will do. Better than not having enough food in the house in case I do need it for a recipe or something...</div>
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I didn't mean to get you upset. Where I live, they are practically begging for donations to food banks. There is even a local website dedicated to finding the best coupon deals so that people can stretch the food they give to the food bank.<br><br>
So, that's where I am coming from.... not attacking you at all. Just offering a different idea. Brainstorming with you.
 

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I'm getting better at making sure I don't waste food...<br><br>
(We're veg but I'm sure what I do would work for others)<br><br>
-I over lap meals. So if I make beans for a meal and make to much I save them and throw them into another meal.<br><br>
-I make EXTRA! at dinner which becomes our lunch. I believe this saves us food from being wasted b/c if I buy seperate food for dinner then lunch SOMETHING is going to go bad.<br><br>
-garbage soup-end of the week gets the leftover pasta(noodles cut up) sauce, rice, rotting veg extra beans whatever is left into a pot w homemade broth that I make the day before w the scraps from the veg from the week and we call it soup.<br><br>
-I never follow recipes..sounds funny but there always seems something I'm missing and would go out and buy and prob wouldn't use up before it expired..instead I just make up recipes tailored to our tastes/what we have an abundance of<br><br>
-root veggies-we eat a lot of potatoes/squash/carrots...things that last a long time. Of course we buy other fresh veg but we make sure to buy only what we'll get through in a short period of time and we know the root veggies are there for back up..Doesn't make sense the way I worte it but, if we buy say a head of broc. and a head ok bok choi, we can eat that up in no time and still have the roots to last us. But if we went and bought the brock, bok choi, and other fresh veg w a quick expirey date we might have something come up and we won't use them in time...then they get wasted<br><br>
I dry food/pickle food ect. This summer I dried beries that were starting to go bad. Made apple sauce out of softening apples/make apple peel jelly out of the peels/cores. pickled the green cherry tomatoes out of the garden. Dried the chilis and turned them into flakes when I knew that we wouldn't be able to eat them all in time.
 

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- We purchase very limited amounts of canned goods (in fact, so few canned goods that I had no idea that canned goods had a best-by date on them).<br>
- I have a very good idea of exactly how much produce we go through in a week, and I keep an eye on its state from day-to-day. Green beans going bad faster than normal? Then they're part of dinner tonight. Small dabs of lots of random produce? Time for stir fry . . .<br>
- I keep all produce except for bananas, apples, uncut melons, and uncut onions in the fridge.<br>
- I don't think I've ever thrown out meat for being freezer burned . . . as I said in the other post, freezer-burned meat = stew meat to me. The other thing to do if you can't do stew with it, is to simmer it alone/gently in plain broth for a while (so chicken or pork in chicken broth, beef in beef broth). That'll "refresh" it as well.<br><br>
Our worse aspect of waste is the dribs and dabbles of leftovers. I'm pretty good at either just cooking enough to feed the three of us for dinner, or cooking enough to have one extra serving for someone's lunch, but sometimes I end with up a tiny little amount of leftover. And that tends to go in the fridge and sit until it's thrown away.<br><br>
We throw out one small kitchen-sized bag of garbage a week. That's basically all the garbage from the 1st floor of the house--bathroom and kitchen garbage. (We fill our recycle bin each week, though.)
 

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I do use leftovers for soups and casseroles. I make a weekly menu so that I know what's going to be used up, and can see if there's something I need to use up.<br><br>
I have also found that for my "type", a weekly shopping trip is much better than monthly and stocking up on things. If I shop weekly, I can keep track of what I have, what I need, what I've bought, etc. I've never been good at inventories and keeping the pantry on a good rotation.<br><br>
I don't keep things a long time. I plan ahead and if I know a big baking day is coming up, I will buy ahead for that. But the only things I would buy way ahead are dry items like yeast, baking powder, salt, etc, if I get a good deal on them in July, I'll save them for my Christmas baking.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>seashells</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14741773"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Wow, the entitlement.</div>
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Seashells, how exactly is it entitlement to buy something with my own money, that my family earns, and if I don't use it or if it's no good, to throw it out?<br><br>
Do I not have the right to throw out things that are no good? Entitlement? Not. We don't take any money from anyone, it's our money and we can do with it as we wish... last time I checked.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mom0810</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14742504"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Seashells, how exactly is it entitlement to buy something with my own money, that my family earns, and if I don't use it or if it's no good, to throw it out?<br><br>
Do I not have the right to throw out things that are no good? Entitlement? Not. We don't take any money from anyone, it's our money and we can do with it as we wish... last time I checked.</div>
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Yes, it is your money and you are allowed to do with it what you want. But when food is wasted it doesn't just affect your family and your money, it effects everyone. The resources that go into growing, packaging and transporting food are immense and cannot be truely owned by the dollar, but are owned by humans as a collective population, therefore when you waste, even if it is your money, it is all of our resources that end up in the dump.<br><br>
It is exactly your attitude toward waste and consumption and 'ownership' that has resulted in the majority American attitude that creates so much waste without a care for the needs of future generations and the rest of the humans on the planet right now.<br><br>
I know you are feeling attacked and defensive, but I cannot help you feel better on this one. With an attitude of I can do whatever I want because it is my money, there is no way the human race is going to thrive and create a beautiful place for all of our children to be free in.
 

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Now to answer the original question. I use up waste by cooking. I do not go shopping for produce until all of the produce I have is used up. It's that simple. I cook all the time, and my cooking is good enough that we want to eat leftovers and sometimes fight over who gets them.<br><br>
Another thing is that I buy quality(mostly organic) food and produce that I am way to frugal not to use.<br><br>
And I have dogs for that occasional meal that isn't so great, or the leftover oatmeal (because no one eats that!)
 

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Okay, here's a few examples of how we use up food around my house...<br><br><br>
-bits of leftover meat<br>
put in morning biscuit or toss in soup for good flavor<br><br>
-leftover rice<br>
stir fry or soups<br><br>
-yogurt or sour cream<br>
fold them into a cake, reduce the liquid in recipe, though<br><br>
-bit of leftover fruit<br>
muffins or pancakes<br><br>
-leftover chicken carcass<br>
bits become sandwiches, bones to crockpot with an onion for yummy homemade broth<br><br>
Also, Saturday is "leftovers for lunch" day. We put out everything on counter and the kids wander through and tell me what to warm up for them. Everyone gets what they need/want and I get a clean fridge for the new week's groceries.<br><br>
My hubby often takes a rice or pasta dish for lunch to work, this helps finish up a leftover or two, depending on how he combines things.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mom0810</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14742504"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Seashells, how exactly is it entitlement to buy something with my own money, that my family earns, and if I don't use it or if it's no good, to throw it out?<br><br>
Do I not have the right to throw out things that are no good? Entitlement? Not. We don't take any money from anyone, it's our money and we can do with it as we wish... last time I checked.</div>
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I think the issue at hand is whether or not it is ethical to throw away perfectly good food only because you feel you have a right to do so. Sure, it's your money and you can do whatever you want with it. Perhaps instead of buying food that you won't eat, you could give that money to a soup kitchen, though. I know you've said that you can't give food to food banks wherever you are. I can't imagine where that might be, but the money could be donated. The attitude that you are entitled to waste because you can afford to waste it is... well, entitlement. In a place like frugality and finance, the goal is to get the biggest bang for your buck. If you're not frugal with what you have, then the point is lost. In a broader sense, we also have a responsibility as NFL parents to teach our children to not take more than what we can reasonably use. In the U.S., what we "reasonably use" is thousands of times more than in other parts of the world. You are not being "attacked"... you are being asked to explain your view that as long as you can afford it, you can waste it. All I have to say is, thank goodness Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don't hold that opinion... we'd all be going hungry in the U.S. Disagreeing is not attacking, it's simply disagreeing. And I wholeheartedly and thoroughly disagree that wasting food because you "can" is in anyway ethical. I think it is actually amoral.
 

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I do a lot of the same things as previous posters. I also had no idea that canned foods had a best before date, but we don't have a huge pantry full of canned stuff anyway. Mostly just beans and tomato products. It looks full right now because I did a big pantry stock up type of shop yesterday. It'll look pretty empty by mid way through the month.<br><br>
I've organized my fridge so that leftovers are stacked in containers on the top shelf beside the milk/juice/water jug/assorted other drinks. That way they're in our face whenever we open the fridge and it's harder to shove them to the back and forget about them. At this time of year, warm lunches are nicer than sandwiches, but I don't have time to cook at lunch, so leftovers get used fairly quickly for the most part.<br><br>
We go through tons of fruit, mostly dh who eats 5-10 pieces/day. He keeps an eye on any that's starting to get too soft and eats it that day. Bananas are frozen for banana bread. We have a fruit bowl plus a crisper that holds all the fruit, with any overflow or oversized items on the shelf above.<br><br>
Veggies are in their crisper + overflow on the shelf above. I keep an eye on what needs to be eaten and avoid buying more until we've used up what we have. Frozen peas and corn are in the freezer for pre-shopping veggie shortages. Last week, right before I went to stock up on produce, we were down to half a thing of celery, about 5lbs of carrots, and about 5lbs of onions. I think there were a couple of grapefruit and an apple in the fruit bin.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mom0810</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14741751"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Better than not having enough food in the house in case I do need it for a recipe or something...</div>
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Well, I am not going to touch the entitlement or resource argument, which I DO believe is quite valid in this case, but to address just this statement...... No, I do not think it is "better". Being creative and substituting a missing ingredient, deciding to wait to cook it until after you go to the store next, or choosing to cook something else altogether is "better" from a frugality standpoint that keeping one of everything knowing a good portion of it will be wasted. A little advanced planning goes a long way to save resources and money.<br><br>
Of course, all that said, my mom never seems to have anything on hand and has been known to "run to the store" up to three times a day, which is also a huge waste of resources and money.<br><br>
I do find myself running to the store a couple of times a week for a missing ingredient. Luckily, I can literally "run" and the only thing it is "costing" me is a few pounds<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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DH likes to take leftovers for lunch so I usually make enough for one dinner and one or two days of his lunch. I cook from scratch almost always, so I can always add little bits of veggies or leftover meat to soup (which now that the weather is cold again, I try to make once a week.) In the summers, I try to use those little bits up in a Saturday morning frittata or hash. I also use the "Green bags" for veggies- They last so much longer!
 

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We recently got a new fridge and the produce drawers are see through. This really helps us remember to eat the fruit and veggies.<br><br>
Also, I don't do the pantry thing. In fact, I shop the farmer market twice a week during the season, and grocery shop almost every day when the FM is closed. So I pretty much buy on an as-needed basis, which I find helps.
 
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