Avoid Holiday Food Waste

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During the holidays food all around us.  Generally, food is plentiful, but there may come a time when it may not be so.  Since I started preparing, I have become more conscientious about avoiding waste.  Let’s face if you stop throwing out rotten produce, stretch your leftovers, you will need to buy less, eat out less, leaving with more cash for your emergency fund, buy storage foods or build up for your supplies.

Here are some of the habits I started developing to avoid wasting food:

  • Serve kids age appropriate portions that they can finish.  I used to serve way too much food that just that ends up in the trash.  If they want more food, they can always ask for seconds.
  • After finishing the meal, refrigerate or freeze leftovers as soon as possible to avoid spoilage.
  • Give out leftovers to guests who want them if you are on a diet and don’t want them lying around to tempt you later.
  • Be creative with leftovers so the family does not get bored after a couple of days.  An example was a barbecue beef brisket we had the other night.  The following day we had tacos; the next night, I shredded what was left and mixed the meat with some chopped onion, peppers, and scrambled eggs and had breakfast for dinner.
  • Serve salad dressing on the side instead of tossing with the greens:  the lettuce and greens stay fresher longer.
  • To keep vegetables fresh for a longer time, do not wash them until you are ready to use them.  I found that the best way to store them is to wrap each type of vegetable in paper towels inside the plastic  produce bag.   Check them after about 4 days and re-wrap in a fresh paper towel.  Keeping moisture off seems to work and even lettuce and spinach can last over a week if wrapped in paper towels.
  • I found that leftover wine will last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator and can be used for cooking such as spaghetti sauce, beef stew gravy etc.

I would be interested to find out what everyone else does to avoid waste.  Feel free to comment and add your tips!

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  1. I make it a point to eat leftovers for lunch the very next day to avoid having them shuffled to the back of the refrigerator, discovered 5 days later and then having to throw them away. All produce scraps are added to the compost. If I’m feeling particularly frugal, I’ll add the potato peels to my loaded potato soup recipe.

  2. One of the things I do is can my leftovers if its possible.You cant can rice or pasta products.But leftover turkey,ham or beef can be canned and put away for future use.When I make spagetti sauce and have any leftover,even if its just one pint…I can it and stick it on my shelves.I have quarts and pints of leftover stew and bean soup.Does anyone here can?Its a big initial investment but soo worth it.With the left over cherry pie filling from our cheesecake topping at Thanksgiving I got one pint on my shelves.Its a moneysaving art to be sure.

    1. Canning is definitely in my list of projects, it can be a great money saver. But I have not bought all the equipment needed yet. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I make less food than I used to. I used to figure out how many people were coming and I’d make enough servings for each dish for a large serving plus leftovers. That’s great if you are making a normal meal with two or three items. For the holidays we make five or six or more items for our dinner plate. We don’t need to make full or jumbo serving sizes. Take a green bean casserole for example. While a can of green beans usually makes two good sized servings for a regular meal, if you figure it will serve three or four if there are lots of other options you won’t make too much. I also used to use really large baking dishes perhaps using 6 cans of green beans just to fill the baking dish. That may normally serve 12 but if you have five or six other items you are serving, then you should plan on it serving 20!

  4. Once a week we have a left over dinner and we clean out everything that’s left over in the refridgerator. If there’s anything left from that it goes to the chickens. We usually have less than one cereal bowl full of food waste, including peels and coffee grinds, each day that goes to the chickens.

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