If you’re like most Americans, you’d probably be shocked to really know how much food you throw away each week. This article outlines ways to avoid food waste with meal planning and meal prep
In the last few months we have all experienced changes that we likely never thought would occur in our lifetimes.
As funny as it was to make memes about the stores missing toilet paper, the reality is this experience has been very sobering.
We’ve all experienced a host of new feelings, but one of those, is experiencing the feeling of “want” for the first time.
Now I’m not naive enough to think that many of you hadn’t experienced “want” before. We all come from different backgrounds and areas, and despite living in a place where food is abundant, there are still many reasons you may have experienced want for food in some way.
…But for me, this was truly the first time I have ever experienced “want of food”
I’m also not naive enough to think this was a huge heartache. Essentially all it has meant is the annoyance of having to shop at multiple stores, make substitutions for foods that I don’t like as much, or wait a week or two to get what I need.
But it has caused me to ponder and reflect a little on how I am using food in my home and kitchen.
How to avoid waste with meal planning
It made me think about how we all might treat food differently if it felt just a little bit more scarce.
This also led me to think about how meal planning and meal prep can help avoid waste and help you to use every part of the foods you are purchasing.
In fact, I was talking to my mom a few weeks back and she was so excited to tell me about how she doubled her dinner to have more for a busier, crazier day.
Then she pointed out an epiphany that she had, she said
“yeah, meal prepping like this is so cool because it helps me use up ALL of the ingredients I purchased, instead of using just a little bit and wasting the rest.”
She couldn’t be have been more right! That is one way that meal prepping helps us to avoid food waste.
Let’s dive into all of the ways that we can have less wasteful kitchens through meal planning and meal prep.
How meal planning helps to avoid food waste
- It allows you to preserve un-used produce– If you go through your fridge at the end of the week before meal planning and make a plan for un-used produce you can “catch” it before it goes bad!
- Everything has a plan- When you have a good meal plan, you only buy the things on your list, and then you use what’s on your list with your meal plan. Easy, Peasy!
- It stops you from over-buying – Have you noticed that when you go to the store without a list that somehow everything ends up in your cart and you spend a boatload of money? Me too! When I meal plan I’m always surprised at how little I spend at the store, but I’m always totally full and satisfied at meal times!
- It helps you use foods you already have, instead of buying more -A good meal planner plans from their own kitchens to avoid waste. Instead of making a menu first, and then trying to use things up, they go through what they have before they even make their list. This is a huge way to avoid food waste!
How to reduce waste even more
-Repeat Meal Plans -I’m shocked that more people don’t do this, instead of making a new meal plan each week, make a few that work and save them to use again. This is especially useful for using up unique ingredients that you might not otherwise get through. It’s a huge time-saver too!
-Make your freezer your best friend!-Learn to freeze everything. The freezer is a much safer place for your ingredients than the fridge, and you’ll really be able to get through so much more of your food this way.
-Limit the number of ingredients you are buying– It’s tempting to buy all the things that sound delicious, but try to show some restraint. Instead of making three different salads in a week, make the same salad 3 times. This will help you to get through ingredients much better!
-Stick to one or two types of protein for the week– Meat is expensive. By choosing just one or two types of protein for the week you can get through it all, and your grocery bill will stay low.
I honestly feel so grateful for so many of the things that this quarantine has taught me, and this is one of them.
I tend to be pretty careful with food I purchase for financial reasons, but it has been good to think about it from the perspective of not always having everything I want or need available.
We are so priveleged that we are able to have so many choices, but hopefully this pandemic has given you the chance to pause and think about how you can reduce waste for the sake of preserving and having enough for a rainy day!
Next week we’ve got another quarantine topic and we’re back to talking about productivity. I’ll be talking all about what I learned from quarantine about productivity. It’ll be a good one, hope you’ll tune in!
Looking for more ways to reduce kitchen waste? Try these articles!