Planning for flexibility

It is Friday – Food Waste Friday – so it’s time for me to account for my food waste over the past week. Today, I also want to talk about meal planning – specifically how to make meal planning work when you don’t like to stick to a meal plan!

Continue reading “Planning for flexibility”

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When sickness strikes….

It’s Food Waste Friday and I have some bad news to report.

For the last month our household has been plagued by illness. My son has recently started kindy (preschool) and has brought home all manner of winter bugs along with his very cute paintings. Needless to say our house is a bit of a disaster zone, as we limp through waiting for this to pass.

food waste friday
Food wasted in the three weeks to 28 August 2015

The disaster extends to our food waste. Over the last three weeks I’ve thrown away:

  • 3/4 cup of leftover vindaloo (usually I’d say “yum, breakfast” but not with a tummy bug!)
  • a cup of tinned tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of quinoa
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 mandarins
  • 2 kiwifruit
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 egg

I am still suffering with a head cold, so I will keep it short for today.

I have one tip to pass along – don’t take the “best before” date on your egg carton as gospel. Often eggs are good for many days beyond this.

How do you know? The simple sink or float test. Put the egg into a glass of water – if it sinks it is good. If it floats to the top, it has gone bad. Sometimes the egg kind of hovers in the middle, bobbing like it wants to float, but with it’s nose still touching the bottom – it is still good, but not for long!

Egg test food waste friday
Floating to the top of the glass – this egg has gone bad

I hope this finds you in good health!

Shopping more to waste less

It is Friday – Food Waste Friday – so time to check in about my food waste over the last fortnight.

Food waste, #foodwastefriday
My food waste – 7 August 2015

Not too bad, two mandarins and a lime. Why is there always one (or two) in a bag that goes bad?

I read an article in Slate this week suggesting that meal planning isn’t the answer to reducing food waste, but rather we should shop for food more frequently.

I definitely see the sense in this proposition – a lot can change in a week, whether it is a spontaneous meal out with friends (I wish) or, as was the case in our house this week, a sick child. We don’t write our meal plans with the aid of a crystal ball.

Back in my commuting days, I did more “little and often” shopping. I passed a supermarket twice a day at the train station or close by – it was easy to pop in and get what I needed as I needed it.  My patterns at home in the suburbs are different. I don’t pass a supermarket on foot on a daily basis. On the routes I do walk regularly, I sometimes pass a corner shop. Unfortunately, the local butcher has recently closed down. So instead, the supermarket is a weekly destination by car. I can’t see that changing in the near future.

How do you shop for food – little and often? In bulk every week or two? Or something different altogether?

Zeroing in on food waste

It is Friday, so it’s time to check in about my food waste over the last fortnight.

Shopping, food waste, food waste friday
What’s going into my freezer after this morning’s supermarket shop

Above zero

I am pleased to report that last week was another zero food-waste week, however unfortunately this week we wasted half a scoop of chips. It was a classic case of our eyes being bigger than our stomachs when ordering at the local fish and chip shop. My husband diligently cleaned up and threw them out before I managed to make a move to save them. I was going to try to reheat them the next day – they’d probably be quite soggy I’d imagine!

Below zero

Unpacking my groceries this morning reminded me how much I use my freezer to reduce my food waste. This week’s shopping included more frozen food than average as we’d run out of a few things at once. We have always frozen our bread but since we bought a large freezer about two years ago I have used it to freeze an increasing range of things, especially seasonal fruit. I also use the freezer a for batch food preparation, like making a huge pot of chilli and using it as a base for several meals. I often cook up and freeze veggies, like pumpkin and broccoli, which I freeze in small quantities to sneak into my son’s (and my husband’s) meals.

This is my first go at freezing butter. I don’t usually buy much butter, but it was short dated and selling at half price. When I saw the butter advertised via social media I was impressed by more than the price – the supermarket also mentioned that butter freezes well. I often think supermarket specials, especially multi-buys, contribute to the household food waste problem, so it was great to see my local supermarket being responsible and helpful.

How was the food waste situation at your place this week? How do you use your freezer to reduce your  food waste?

Shopping online to spend less

It is Food Waste Friday and I’m pleased to say that being accountable for my waste is making a real difference.

I got asked a great question this week (thanks Pip): “Have you found that doing it in public has helped more than just giving yourself a stern talking to?”.

The answer is a big YES. Obviously, going public is highly motivating, but there is more to it than that. Before starting this project, I felt guilty about my waste, but harsh self-criticism and bad feelings weren’t making much of a difference. Now when I waste food, I don’t feel as bad about it. I know I’ve made a good effort to reduce my waste and I use it as a learning opportunity to improve my systems.

And it is working! This week I’m happy to report zero food waste – until this happened.

Food Waste Friday, Food waste, shopping
Broken jar of capsicums – #FoodWasteFriday 10 July 2015

I had my groceries delivered via online shopping this morning. Unfortunately a jar of roasted capsicums broke en-route to our place.

I seriously considered emptying the contents of the jar into a sieve and giving it a good rinse. However, I really don’t want to risk feeding my family glass. That might take my mission to reduce waste a bit too far. Maybe if the jar was just cracked, but it was actually smashed. So, unfortunately, it had to go in the bin.

I used to use online shopping for groceries regularly when my son was a newborn. Now, I only use it once every couple of months. Today, it was because we really needed food and my husband had the car all day for a meeting in an out-of-the-way location.

I have noticed that when I buy my groceries online I always spend less. This isn’t because it’s cheaper, but because I buy less. It is much less tempting to pop extras into my online shopping cart than my in-store one. It got me thinking that online shopping might be a good tool for people who regularly over-buy due to in-store temptation.

A final note, a big thank you to Love Food Hate Waste NZ who spread the word about #FoodWasteFriday last week.

How was your food waste situation this week? Do you buy groceries online? How do you find the experience compared to in-store shopping?

It’s not a bargain if you bin it

Welcome to Food Waste Friday. This week, I fell victim to the supermarket’s super-marketers.

First, the good news. The system I implemented last week – designating a shelf in the fridge for items that need to be used up ASAP – is working well. All leftovers, half used jars of tomato paste, etc., were used up.

Food waste, Food Waste Friday, shopping
Broccoli to the bin – Food Waste Friday 3 July 2015

The bad news –1 ¼ heads of broccoli in the bin. I went to steam and puree it on Monday (in an attempt to save it) but it was too far gone. This was a clear case of “bargain blinkers”. Broccoli wasn’t on my shopping list, but I couldn’t resist it at a bargain two for $3. Wow, I could save $1 by buying two! So I did, but I barely used any of it – really, I wasted $2 and a lot of broccoli.

I have written before about how my desire to bag a bargain ends up costing me money and my efforts to overcome this. Today, I’m adding a new mantra for the supermarket:

“It’s not a bargain if you bin it.”

Are you a sucker for supermarket multi-buys? How was the food waste situation at your house this week?

Food waste – perception vs reality

It is Friday, so it’s time to stand up and account for my food waste.

How did I do this week?
Not great. Food wasted:
• 1 kiwifruit
• 1 mandarin
• 1 lime
• ¼ bottle of passata

#foodwastefriday, food waste
This week’s waste – #FoodWasteFriday 26 June 2015

This was an eye opener. I thought I was doing really well and on track for zero food waste this week. Wrong.

Three quarters of people think they waste less than average
I am not alone. I read ‘You’re wasting more food than you think’ in Mother Jones this week. Turns out, most Americans underestimate how much food they waste.

I am curious how my food waste stacks up against the average, so I’m going to estimate the value of each item that goes to waste and see how it tallies up.

Planning and routine
I received some excellent tips from readers about reducing food waste. Two things shone through for me – planning and routine.

I now have a designated spot in the fridge for things that need to be used urgently. I wanted somewhere prominent, to keep “at risk” items front of mind. I chose the bottom shelf, on top of the vegetable crisper. I am also training myself to put things into the fridge so that their expiry date can be seen.

Based on this week’s waste, I’m going to add a more thorough check of the fruit bowl to my routine too.

Save of the week
I had half a head of cabbage sitting in the crisper starting to look sad. I saved it by making a batch of Cabbage, carrot and caraway broth from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage: Light & Easy. Unfortunately, this recipe isn’t published online, but it’s a simple mix of cabbage, carrot, onions and stock – great for cleaning out the fridge and perfect for the cold snap we had this week.

However, my best save was at the grocery store this afternoon. Kiwifruit was on sale for a mere $1.98 a kilo. I was tempted to buy some, but I decided against it after remembering the one I threw out this morning. I wanted to buy it more because it was cheap than because I wanted it. So it stayed on the shelves – it’s not a bargain if it’s just going to end up in the bin.

How did you go with your food waste this week? Do you have any good fridge-clearing recipes to share?