Frugality and reducing waste go together. Unfortunately, my taste buds and my kid’s pickiness often work hard to overcome my desire to save food and reduce food waste. I try to buy fresh food for my family to eat, but it’s hard to know exactly how much to buy without having some of it go to waste.
This is especially difficult with fruit and vegetables. I don’t want to buy less food, especially fruits and veggies, because they often do get eaten! I don’t want for there not to be fruits and vegetables around when someone wants to eat them. However, I do want to waste less food and avoid throwing away the extra food.
I like having fresh food around, and I do plan my meals around the food I have in my house. For example, I sometimes buy cans of veggies when I know they may not be used right away. But sometimes, I miscalculate and end up with extra fruits and vegetables. I try to plan my shopping and buy the right amount, but I don’t always get it right! But I don’t throw out the food that doesn’t get eaten.I hate throwing food out and letting it go to waste! Here are some of the things I do to try to reduce food waste in my home. Click To Tweet
I try to send fruit with my kids for lunch, but it occasionally comes back untouched (shocker, no?), and then no one wants to eat it. It bothers me to throw food out, and I also can’t really afford to throw food away.
The frugal side of me cringes if they go in the trash, yet my picky side refuses to eat them.
I try to repurpose any and all items that are either going bad, stale or are just scraps that sometimes would go in the trash. So I try to do something with everything in my kitchen to reduce food waste.
This system needs a little bit of organization. I like to have different containers in my freezer where I throw scraps, etc., to keep them until I’m ready to use them. Having these containers available means, I can save every bit instead of being thrown out. Many people assume that food that is going bad or is nearing its expiration needs to be thrown away, but when you store food correctly (like in the freezer), then it can last.
It takes a while to have enough scraps to do something significant with their food scraps- so this way, I slowly collect enough to make a recipe, and I can reduce food waste in my house! Fruit and vegetables that are “gross” to my family (i.e., mushy, hard, brown) yet not moldy get frozen for another use.
How to reduce food waste in your home
I have a container where I put my vegetable stock- leftover carrots, browning greens, etc. go into this box. I also put carrot peels, the strings from my celery, and other scraps. These sit in my freezer until I need a new chicken or vegetable stock. Occasionally I have to add some vegetables, but more often than not, some water, and these scraps make excellent additions to a delicious stock.
After I make the stock, I store them in small containers to be used for a recipe that I need. No store-bought stock is required!
I will buy some chicken necks or bones and make flavorful chicken stock. Try going to a butcher or a local chicken counter and ask them to sell you some chicken scraps- they may have some necks and bones for very cheap that you can use to make chicken stock. You can do this with meat as well for beef stock.
Of course, if you ever buy whole chickens, save the chicken scraps in a container or bag and use them in a stock. These get frozen into individual containers and are the base of many soups, stews, sauces, and other dishes. Low-sodium and basically free!
I love smoothies, and they are a great snack. Frozen fruit can be really pricey, though! Browning fruit goes into a container just for that purpose. Many bananas end up there but sometimes berries, dates, kiwi, and pears go as well. When it’s time for a smoothie, I hack some pieces off, add a liquid and a green (basil or parsley), and a delicious smoothie is born. All made from items that may have ended up in the trash! I also freeze any small amounts of leftover juices or tea concentrate that I may have made to add to the smoothie.
Apple Butter or Apple Cobbler
I don’t like apples in my smoothies, but my kids love apples (sometimes). So Browning apples get placed into their container, where I save them until I have enough for a cobbler, pie, apple sauce, or apple cider. Fruits that I would have thrown in the trash are saved until they are useful once more. I actually made homemade apple butter once! It took forever, and I don’t know if I would have the patience to do it again, but it was delicious!
I love to bake, and I try to bake something every Shabbos. This is also a frugal thing because homemade cookies are so much cheaper than the bakery! But.. cookies get left out, and sometimes we don’t finish all the cookies (rare, but it does happen). So what I like to do is to save the stale cookies (or freeze them) and then make them into cookie butter. This is delicious.
You can take the cookie butter and throw it into a pie crust with some whipped cream on top for a really easy (albeit not super cheap) dessert. But, of course, you can also eat the cookie butter plain with a spoon. I’m certainly not judging you.
Carrots, radishes, celery, kohlrabi- any hard vegetable or even cabbage that is going bad or the scraps from a soup or dish can make a great pickle. Take water, vinegar, salt, and some spices and make it a quick pickle. I like to cut up a vegetable platter for the kids to eat as a snack. Now, I don’t have to worry about it going to waste. The leftovers get pickled, and they last much longer! Just a note that pickled radishes are DELICIOUS, and you should try them.
This is not a food, but it is a food thing, so I mentioned it. Honey, marinara sauce (we occasionally buy), salsa, jam- these are all things that come in glass containers. Glass containers are awesome to reuse! First, take the container and wash it out well. Then place it in a bowl with hot water and some dish soap and let it sit. After a while, the label should come right off.
Then you have an excellent reusable glass container. You can use them for sauces, pickles, toum, homemade mayo, and homemade dips, even soup. I can’t believe I used to get rid of these. Of course, buying glass containers is expensive, so I get a 2 for 1. I love not throwing things out-—all part of my effort to reduce food waste.
No more guilt about food waste
This system also assuages my guilt for not eating imperfect fruit (I am very picky about my fruit and vegetables). It also helps me curb my inclination to buy less fruit and vegetables to have in the house. The frugal side of me has a hard time spending money on various fruits and vegetables if I think they may not get eaten.
But my children and I should have these options readily available to eat. By reducing the amount of food that goes to waste, I can feel comfortable with fresh fruits and vegetables because I know they will get used-even if it’s not in the original way intended.
Note: I don’t have a yard, so composting is not an option for me. While I try to reduce the amount of produce waste through other means, if you have a chance to compost, you can reduce your food waste even more! Recycling food waste into the environment is a great way to reduce your environmental impact.
Read more about eating healthy food on a budget!