Happy 2013, TLT’ers! Thanks for sticking with me while I took several weeks off from regularly writing this blog.
Before returning to our usual kid-and-food topics, I thought I’d go back and look at my 2012 food resolutions to assess my progress and help those with similar food goals for the year ahead. As a reminder, here’s what I hoped to accomplish last year:
- Reducing Food Waste
- Making More Homemade Food
- Serving and Eating More Fruits and Vegetables
- Trying Out Vegetarianism
In the next few posts I’ll discuss each of these goals and grade my efforts. Today’s topic . . .
Less Food Waste
I know this an issue that troubles a lot of us. We do our best to clean out our crisper drawers and not let staples languish in the pantry but sometimes, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves throwing out spoiled food — and feeling terribly guilty about it.
I certainly didn’t eliminate my family’s food waste in 2012, but I did do a few things to reduce it.
Better Pantry Management
I really made a concerted effort this year to be better organized about my pantry. Sometimes this involved simply checking out what staples I had on hand before grocery shopping. And yes, I know this is what a rational person is supposed to do, but I’ll admit I didn’t always take the time before rushing out the door. (This practice might explain my discovery one night that I had no less than five boxes of quinoa on hand — but no pasta of any kind.) I also try to employ the “last in, first out” rule when using up my pantry items. Again, this is just common sense, but I didn’t always do it.
Shopping My Pantry
In 2012 I also tried to “shop my pantry” as often as possible when planning and preparing meals. For example, here’s a representative dinner I pulled together one night that came entirely from pantry staples and fridge items that were otherwise going to waste:
It’s wasn’t the most colorful meal and it was a little starch-heavy, but it was nourishing and tasty and I felt good knowing that I’d saved all of this good food from going to waste.
Along these lines, back in October, blogger Sally Kuzemchak of Real Mom Nutrition had a “Pantry Challenge” you’ll enjoy reading about, including a very funny post from her husband who didn’t always enjoy the experience.
Being a Realist When It Comes to Kids
As any parent knows, one big source of food waste is kids. We can’t always know what they’ll eat and won’t eat, especially since their little “food whims” seem to change overnight. I remain a firm believer in continuing to offer kids various foods even if they initially refuse them, but now that my children are older (10 and 12) I do think it’s OK to honor some of their individual preferences, in part to reduce waste.
So when my son recently said to me, “You know, I just won’t eat fruit at lunch, but I will eat it for [after-school] snack,” I didn’t reject that idea out of hand. Now there are days when I don’t put any fruit at all in his lunch – something I used to regard as a cardinal lunch-packing sin — or I’ll try more creative ways of working in fruit, like putting very thin banana slices in a peanut butter sandwich or including dried fruit as a sweet. It’s not ideal, but it’s good to know that far fewer clementines, apple slices, strawberries and the rest are going directly into the cafeteria trash can.
Making My Own Bread Crumbs
Way back in 2010 we had a discussion on this blog about bread-buying, specifically how to find decent, healthy bread that doesn’t spoil quickly. The upshot of that discussion was that I abandoned (for the most part) buying any bread at the supermarket, but the downside is that we don’t always use up a loaf of better-quality bread before it gets moldy – a real problem here in humid Houston. I do freeze bread, of course, but I’ve also gotten in the regular habit of making my own toasted bread crumbs. It doesn’t take long, it prevents waste and – the best part – using homemade bread crumbs instead of store-bought vastly improves the taste of your recipes.
Overall Grade on Reducing Food Waste
I’m pleased with what I’ve done to reduce food waste but we still have a long way to go. There are still weeks when I buy food items that we wind up not using because something interferes with family dinner, and then I fail to repurpose or freeze the items before it’s too late. And we could be composting our food scraps, something my husband and I talk about but still haven’t tried. So, on this goal, I give myself a B-.
Do you have any tips or resources on preventing food waste? Take a second to share them with the rest of us in a comment below.
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