If you keep up with food related news or read a lot of food magazines, as I do, then you may already know this; a lot of food is wasted. I do mean a lot. Not only is this bad because for the environment, it takes a toll on your wallet. As students, we can’t really afford to waste money. So here are a few tips on how you can avoid wasting the food that you buy;
Write out a shopping list before you go grocery shopping.
Yes you may roll your eyes at the thought but you’d be surprised as to how much writing out a shopping list, and sticking to it, can help. It can help you avoid buying things you aren’t going to end up using, and throwing away later. Which brings me onto my next point;
Try to meal prep. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to go all crazy organized (but if you are an organized person, then by all means) but just by roughing figuring out what you want to eat/cook between now and the next time you go grocery shopping, you can better figure out what you need and what you need to buy.
When it comes to buying fresh produce and meat, a good tip is to keep your meat in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. This way if you don’t end up cooking with it like you thought you would, it’s not going to go bad in the fridge. Please don’t ever ignore sell-by dates on meat packets- eating meat that’s gone off can be very harmful to you. So by keeping it in the freezer instead of the fridge, you can store it for up to six months (mince meat up to three months).
As for fresh fruit and veggies, always try to use up what you can by again, planning out what you want to use it for. If you buy a fresh head of broccoli but you know you aren’t going to be eating anything with it anytime soon, it’s just going to go bad in your fridge. If you want to buy certain kinds of fruits or veggies but you aren’t sure when you’re going to need it/want it, it’s a good idea to buy it from the freezer aisle. There are lots of different choices, nowadays they even have smoothie mixes where all you need to do is blend the fruit and add a liquid. You can keep these in your freezer for as long as the expiration date on the packet says so and you don’t need to worry about wasting fresh options.
Try to use up leftovers– if you find that you’ve used some, but not all of your veggies, and they are starting to go a little off color (but not moldy, there’s a difference!) you can still find a way to use them. Just because your green beans, broccoli, leeks or salad leaves start to go a little sad and limp doesn’t mean they can’t be used in soups, stews, or sauces. If your fruits are starting to look a little sad, make a smoothie! The bottom line is, if they aren’t bad yet but they aren’t the perfect looking piece of fruit or vegetable, they will still taste the same when used in cooking so it doesn’t really matter.
Spices can go a long way; if you feel like your food is feeling a bit bland, or you’re not too keen on vegetables, remember that spices are your best friend when it comes to cooking. You can get a whole variety of spices in grocery stores. You don’t need to buy the fancy ones in glass bottles; I always buy mine in little packets, that last me just as long as the ones in the glass bottles, and they only cost 0.45 cents each. Cheap and a great tool for cooking. Here are a few key ones; oregano for tomato sauces, pasta dishes and homemade pizzas; turmeric is key when making any kind of curry dish; ground garlic, black pepper and/salt, these are ones I simply cannot go about when making any kind of chicken dish. You can also find mixed spices especially for different kinds of dishes; chilli, fries, red meat, even salad. My favorite is mixed dried herbs- all the herbs you could need in one packet without needing to splurge and find a way to use up fresh ones before they go bad!
Hopefully by following a few of these tips, you will find that you waste less food than you did before. You might just find you don’t spend as much and you get more out of your food than you did before!