Tuesday, October 19, 2010

4 Ways to Avoid Kitchen Waste Altogether

Today I was roving the Internet for useful information to share, and came across this article on "Seven tasty ways to stop wasting food".  Living with Rhymes with Rasheed is the ULTIMATE lesson in not wasting food - you should see the emotional look he gets on his face when I just have to throw out an old tomato I find squished in the back of the fridge.  But I understand where he's coming from.  Anyone who can afford to forget about a tomato in their cooled storing device is lucky compared to the over 1 billion malnutritioned people in the world who do without basics everyday.  It is said that Prophet Muhammad (saw) could not go to bed if his neighbors were hungry, and in essence mitigating food waste is part of the modern day equivalent to ensuring that our neighbors aren't going to bed without.  While their list focuses on what to do with leftovers, mine is based on preventing the leftovers from even ending up in a sketch looking plastic bowl in the fridge :)

1.  BREAD - Of course there is French toast, bread pudding, croutons, bread crumbs and crisps that can be made from bread that is nearly stale.  But to prevent getting to the point where I have a pantry full of crumbs and croutons, I freeze loaves of bread.  It keeps bread fresh, and defrosts rather quickly and if you need a slice super fast you can toast it for about 30 seconds and you have fresh bread ready to go.  I buy name brand (like Arnold and Nature's Own) at my local Dollar Tree.  It is a dollar a loaf compared to $2.50+ at the grocery, and is usually about 2 days from expiration. This way you can use your bread on what you want to, not what you have to!

2.  PROPERLY STORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES- Do not wash vegetables before storing them, the added surface moisture will make them rot faster, and be sure to remove them from those little plastic produce bags, which can hold in gases released by fruits and veggies and speed up rot. Check this vegetable storage guide for specifics on veggie storage.Save peels, stems, pieces, etc. for stock by keeping a large zip-top bag in the door of your freezer where you can easily stash them as they come along.  Add soft veggies to dishes where they don't usually belong like sauces, chili, sloppy joes, or any other dish where they will go unnoticed by picky husbands, children, and friends. 

3. ORGANIZE YOUR FRIDGE- Once a week go through the fridge and put all of the items that are on their way out in the front.  This way they aren't forgotten and are easily accessible when dinner comes around. Also, keep a list on the front of the fridge door with available dairy and produce items that have a short shelf life so you remember them.

4. HAVE A LEFTOVER PARTY-  If you can't avoid excess leftovers, share your random leftovers with friends! Dress up leftover spaghetti as baked spaghetti, or make leftover mashed potatoes into potato cakes and host a pot luck so they can bring their weirdo leftovers too.  That's a meal you don't have to really prep for, and you don't let all your week's tasty bits and pieces go to waste. 

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