It's common sense really. You should only spend your hard earned money on things that you are actually going to use. Food is one of them. We don't go to the grocery store and pick up a head of lettuce thinking "I want to spend $1 on you so I can throw you away next week." We actually intend to use it.
Life gets in the way though. You forget to use up that head of lettuce so by the time you remember it you find it all soggy in a mess of brown liquid at the bottom of the vegetable drawer. Yum! I admit that I am no expert in preventing food waste, I am only an expert in food waste. I am working on getting to the point where I can open the fridge and know what is in there and when it needs to be used up and figure out a way to use it up before it gets bad.
I am one of those people who puts off cleaning out the fridge too long so that by the time I do get around to it I find expired cartons of yogurt in the back, shriveled up carrots in the vegetable drawer, blue cheese in the meat drawer (when I never bought blue cheese!), and odds and ends that could have seriously been put to use had I just remembered they were in there. That waste adds up. A carton of yogurt here and a package of vegetables there probably adds up to $5 or more a month. What a waste!
I am no better when it comes to leftovers. I really should follow the lead of my mother-in-law when it comes to saving every little bit of leftovers from meals. Have a few spoonfuls of green beans left? Stick them in the fridge to add to your plate later in the week. Have some rice left over in the bottom of the pan? Stick it in the fridge! But I'm bad. I rebel. I'm lazy. If it is less than a full serving left, I often figure it isn't worth digging out a storage container (which then will need washed later). I just feed it to the dogs.
My goal is to become more observant about the food that goes to waste and try to cut it out almost completely. One tip is throwing any leftovers such as small servings of vegetables, meat, and even rice into a bag in the freezer and once full using it to make a pot of soup. Little servings of things can also be pulled out and served to a toddler or child for lunch. It's fun for them to have a big variety of food on a plate for them.
Another goal? To get the refrigerator cleaned and organized this week and then taking stock several times weekly to make sure we are using up everything before it goes to waste. Buying food only to throw it away just doesn't make sense...or cents.
What do you do to avoid food waste in your house?