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Thread: Personal food waste solutions

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Personal food waste solutions

    I don't know why, but I seem to waste a lot more food up here in VT. My kitchen is small, but it's functional for the most part. I think the problem is the fact that my very small refrigerator is in the pantry. I recently improved the lighting, which I think was one problem, but it's still hard to see what is in the fridge. So stuff languishes in there and goes bad.

    I read one good tip recently that said to put all the produce on the top shelf--if it's the first thing you see when you open the door it's not likely to sit in those vegetable bins and go bad.

    I'm looking for good tips on how to organize and utilize the perfectly good food I have within the limitations of a very small fridge and a very small pantry.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  2. #2
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    I don’t know if this is what you are looking for but I have been “reading” a book called Preserving Summer’s Bounty. I have learned so much. An example Of something I never thought to do.... freezing lemons or limes whole, zesting when frozen. Says when thawed the lime will be soft but is still wonderful to juice. I can’t tell you how many limes I have thrown away because I did not use them in time. There are many aha moments for me. I am making a “cheatsheet” to indicate what I have. This is especially beneficial now because my cupboards, freezer and pantry is full.

    This might be useful?

    https://thehappyhousie.porch.com/20-...and-makeovers/

  3. #3
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I think that tip about seeing is very important.


    I know that I buy fruit and put it in the fruit drawer and forget about it because Iím not naturally drawn to fruit. On the other hand, I eat a lot of vegetables so Iím always opening the vegetable drawer to see whatís there.


    Do you have regular grocery shopping habit? We go about weekly. We used to go without fail once a week on Sundays, but now in retirement things are more loosey-goosey. I try to use up the fresh stuff at the beginning of the week and so by the end of the week our refrigerator is more bare. And thatís OK because I tell myself we can always run to the store if you need something, that is a five minute or less trip to get there.

    Yes I freeze lemons, limes, ginger. In Hermann I have been freezing garlic because that store doesnít have good garlic and I tend to buy it in the city and take it to Hermann, but then I donít use it up quickly. Freezing changes the consistency thatís for sure but still, I like nice solid cloves of garlic to work with.

  4. #4
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    2 things I have done: 1) put a note on the frig reminding me of what needs to be used up 2) putting the items front and center (at eye level) even if that means they aren't with other items that are like them (putting the produce on the top shelf vs the produce drawer).

  5. #5
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    It seems that I am needing some more clarification. Is the waste food that is never used or leftovers that spoil stuck in the back of the fridge?
    If the latter, I am finding that I prepare for two meals and eat the second the next day. That has taken some planning but has made a difference. I don't have a large pantry either so buy just what I need and freeze or can the balance.
    EG; I will buy 2lbs of Black Forest ham, eat a 1/4lb in a sandwich, wrap or stir-fry and package the rest in measured 1/4 portions for the freezer. Or, if I make a larger stir-fry with 1/2lb, I will eat this the next day as well.
    Perhaps you could look at your eating habits to see if there can be a reliable pattern that you can both follow that makes planning better and your shopping more consistent and consumed.
    I am finding that my eating has evolved; I have oatmeal, fruit and yogurt for breakfast, a substantial lunch and a salad or slice of frozen pizza or cheese and an apple for supper. Snacks are fruit.


    Am I being too analytical for your original question?
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  6. #6
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    It seems that I am needing some more clarification. Is the waste food that is never used or leftovers that spoil stuck in the back of the fridge?
    Both, really.

    As far as putting food eye level, that's impossible with our fridge! We needed to replace it this year, and I really seriously considered getting the kind with the freezer on the bottom, but it was more than we wanted to pay. So no matter what you have to stoop to peer in, and if you want to see what's on the lower shelves, you need good knees.

    I like the suggestion that good planning will help. I recall when I lived with my great-aunt we went "uptown" every second or third day and we ate the 2-3 days worth of food and then went "uptown" again.

    I didn't know I could freeze lemons, which is very timely advice since DH got far too many lemons and limes for the wedding bartender!

    I also like the suggestion of keeping a note of what's in there. I did that in NJ on a dry erase board, and I did find it helped. I think I need to install that habit.

    DH has a tendency to buy something he intends to make that evening and then he doesn't feel like it and then the next night he doesn't feel like it, and so it goes until the meat is bad. So maybe I have to encourage him to make it that night.

    And I tend to WANT to eat more salads, but somehow they seem like a lot of work! I even gathered a bunch of small storage containers and filled them with salad stuff, and that worked for a while but then that went by the wayside, too.

    Maybe I need more rigid planning, as some of you guys have suggested.

    In the meantime, I KNOW I have about 5 zucchinis to do something with. I do have a new spiralizer, so I'll think about using it to make zoodles, and also maybe a ratatouille.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    Both, really.

    As far as putting food eye level, that's impossible with our fridge! We needed to replace it this year, and I really seriously considered getting the kind with the freezer on the bottom, but it was more than we wanted to pay. So no matter what you have to stoop to peer in, and if you want to see what's on the lower shelves, you need good knees.

    I like the suggestion that good planning will help. I recall when I lived with my great-aunt we went "uptown" every second or third day and we ate the 2-3 days worth of food and then went "uptown" again.

    I didn't know I could freeze lemons, which is very timely advice since DH got far too many lemons and limes for the wedding bartender!

    I also like the suggestion of keeping a note of what's in there. I did that in NJ on a dry erase board, and I did find it helped. I think I need to install that habit.

    DH has a tendency to buy something he intends to make that evening and then he doesn't feel like it and then the next night he doesn't feel like it, and so it goes until the meat is bad. So maybe I have to encourage him to make it that night.

    And I tend to WANT to eat more salads, but somehow they seem like a lot of work! I even gathered a bunch of small storage containers and filled them with salad stuff, and that worked for a while but then that went by the wayside, too.

    Maybe I need more rigid planning, as some of you guys have suggested.

    In the meantime, I KNOW I have about 5 zucchinis to do something with. I do have a new spiralizer, so I'll think about using it to make zoodles, and also maybe a ratatouille.
    I spiralize zucchini with other veggies too and roast... potatoes, onions, carrots and season... ahhhh. I went to the farmer's market Wednesday and bought large carrots just to spiralize.

    I recently made stuffed zucchini that was really good too.

  8. #8
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Because we want to minimize grocery runs, we've moved to shopping every two weeks, which requires some planning. It also requires some coordinated "using up" since we're trying to not run to the market spontaneously to replace stuff that went bad.

    What I do:
    - I have one shelf that contains the leftovers from prepared meals and the stuff I need to remember to use up. Today we had ham with steamed green beans for dinner. The ham will pretty much disappear on its own, but the half-bag of green beans I did not steam goes up on that shelf, to remind me to make them before they get gross. Ditto for the half an onion I didn't need to use the other day. The 1/4 cup of cream in the container. That's the spot, and I look there first when I start cooking.
    - I try to coordinate recipes to use up stuff. If I buy a head of cabbage, I have a couple of dishes in mind for it, so I know it won't languish because I'm making dishes that don't call for cabbage.
    - The more perishable stuff goes first. Spinach, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, zucchini -- they won't last a couple of weeks in the fridge like radishes and kale will. So I use them up first.
    - If I'm not cooking fresh meat/poultry/fish in two or three days, it goes in the upstairs freezer. Longer-term stuff goes downstairs. Putting things in the downstairs freezer prompts me to look at the items that have been in there longest and come up with meals using them in the next two-week cycle.
    - It's coming up on soup and stew season again. Broccoli may not be a traditional ingredient in chicken soup, but if I have some to use up, in it goes. Maybe the cream will go in there, too, to give things a little body and use it up.

    So far I've thrown away very little and we've eaten pretty darn well, without too many hodgepodge meals (frittatas, stews, etc.) created to use up ingredients.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  9. #9
    Senior Member Rosemary's Avatar
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    Keeping a list helps me, too. Other things that minimize waste in our kitchen are: making fruit salad every day or two (my family will rarely take the time to wash their own fruit, but if I make fruit salad, they will eat a lot of fruit) and prepping and cooking, as applicable, vegetables shortly after purchase. For instance, I went to the farmers market a couple of weeks ago and came home with eggplant, a large quantity of wax beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and corn. We ate the corn for lunch that day, and by then I had already made an eggplant stir-fry (which went into the refrigerator for my workday lunches) and washed/cut lettuce to keep in the fridge for salad. I also blanched all the wax beans for freezing, and steamed some to tenderness to eat for dinner that day. Vegetables keep much better after cooking - especially mushrooms and asparagus.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    When our refrigerator died we bought one with the freezer on the bottom and love it. Occasionally lettuce goes bad or lunch meat but usually I am on it. My husband doesn’t cook so I know if I have meat to cook.

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