Reduce, reuse & recycle to minimize food waste0
If you’re looking to eat Real Food on a budget, one way to stretch your dollar is to minimize food waste!
While the super-econo-sized bag or carton of food might have a more economical price per unit, you’re not saving any money if much of it goes bad or unused.
Meal planning is one way to make sure that you use up your allotted purchases and eating all you buy. For example, if you’re planning on making a meal that uses half a can of tomato paste, you could plan to make another meal in the same week that uses up the rest of the can. Or increase the size of the meal you’re making to economically use your food stores, and freeze extra portions for lunches or quick reheatable dinners.
Freeze your bounty
Meal planning can seem like quite the puzzle to co-ordinate ingredients. If it’s not your forte, you can always freeze large quantities of food into usable portions. Still got that unused half-can of tomato paste? Freeze it in an ice-cube tray (each cube is about a tablespoon) and use it as needed in future recipes without worrying about it going bad.
What if you pick up a great deal on produce, but can’t use it all in your week’s meal plan? Many vegetables can be frozen after being blanched, parboiled or pureed. Fruits like bananas, can be left whole and frozen for later use in banana bread and smoothies, while other fruits can be simply peeled and cut for freezing.
With food, it isn’t so much ‘reusing’ as it is squeezing out the last of the nutrients before it goes into the compost. Keep your vegetable trimmings and meat bones in a dedicated “for the broth” container in the freezer. When you have enough collected, add them to your bone broth, and you’ll be able to draw nutrients and minerals that would have otherwise gone to the garbage.
Check out our bone broth basics to make your own simple (and delicious) broth for soup stock.
Keep a garden and re-grow from scraps
If you’re into gardening, there are plenty of ways to ‘recycle’ your food scraps into new food. Have your onions and garlic started to sprout? Keep them for your dirt and grow a new plant! There are plenty of plants that will re-grow from your scraps, like celery, lettuce, potatoes and many more. It’s like bonus food!
Save the seeds from the vegetables you buy and plant them in the next growing season. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas are great choices of plants to save seeds, since they are easy to harvest and store. Your best bet may be saving the seeds from organically-grown produce since many grocery store variety vegetables are often hybrids, so they may not grow plants that are exactly the same as the vegetable you ate. But, if nothing else, it’s a fun experiment and a great learning experience for kids (and adults) to get involved with their food!
If you’re eating real food, the food scraps themselves shouldn’t actually go into the garbage. Many cities have a ‘green bin’ program that takes not only vegetable scraps but meat scraps as well. If you’re not fortunate enough to have this type of program, it’s well worth having your own garden composter so that you can turn your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich soil. Even if you’re not growing a vegetable garden, good compost is sure to make your lawn and flower beds happy.