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Wasted Food - How to Stop This Horrible Habit

Seems like there are a lot of us out here having to face the fact that too much food is being thrown out for all kinds of reasons / excuses. If you have conquered this awful problem, please let us know how you did it. Is it some kind of psychological problem, organizational problem or just plain laziness for not taking control of the situation? Do we need to go through some sort of ten step program or what? Be honest with us, we can take it.

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  1. Based on my own observations, wasting (throwing away) food is attributable to a number of factors, some of them existing is combination with others depending on the household.
    1. Impulse purchases - selecting items from the store shelf with the glimmer of an idea on how/when to use it but failing to ever follow through with the idea.
    2. Bulk purchases - buying items (e.g. "2 for 1 sale") subject to spoilage that we can't possibly use within the "use by" or freshness period limitations. Example: buying two heads of celery that probably needed to be sold a week prior to our getting it and finding that it rots in the crisper before we can use it.
    3. Preparing too much food and not knowing how to use "left overs" for another meal.
    There's more, but I've got an appointment to keep .....

    13 Replies
    1. re: todao

      todao, please, please come back here as soon as you can, we will be waiting at our computers for more info....

      1. re: todao

        Wasting food may also be partly a cultural thing. I won't say which state my wife is from but it's a poor state. Her mother never saved leftovers. Didn't ever make a meal from leftovers. All food leftover at the end of a meal was thrown away. I believe that the idea was to show others that they were well off enough to not have to save food.

        However, this behaviour did not apply only to food. It also applied to house hold appliances. Nothing was ever repaired. If something ceased to function it was thrown away and a new one purchased. The house was filled with the "newest",the "largest", and hopefully the "most expensive". Pay attention neighbors, we are not "poor".

        1. re: dhmill

          Ah, dhmill, that's so sad, but I've known similar. My family was "lace-curtain Irish" back in the day so I understand how the need to keep up appearances arises.

          1. re: DuchessNukem

            The really sad part is that now, her children are behaving the same way.

          2. re: dhmill

            I'll never forget, when I was a kid we didn't starve but didn't waste food. One time I was at my friend's house and her Mom came home from shopping. She had bought a new package of bacon, and when she went to put it in the fridge, she threw out a half used package of perfectly good bacon that was already in there. I remember thinking she was crazy! But you're right, they did think they were better than everyone else, maybe she just did it for my benefit.

            1. re: dhmill

              I recall hearing about some east coast relatives of good friends who threw everything away including a 1/2 eaten birthday cake. Nothing was saved from one day to the next. The entire concept boggles the mind.

              1. re: John E.

                Okay, throwing out a birthday cake is crossing the line. At the very least take it to work and fatten up your co-workers!

                1. re: livetocook

                  My sister's take on dieting: Fat friends make her look thinner. Voila!

                2. re: John E.

                  The cake would never have spoiled, although eventually it would have dried out. Weird, really weird.

                  1. re: John E.

                    They threw out half of a birthday cake?? Sweet jujubes, the inhumanity of it!

                    1. re: John E.

                      But birthday cake for breakfast is one of life's greatest joys!

                      1. re: mpjmph

                        I tell myself if I eat things like birthday cake for breakfast, I have all day to work it off.

                    2. re: dhmill

                      I've seen this type of behavior too many times, too. It's not an American thing. I've seen it from people in several countries and from quite a few cultures. I don't get it.

                      I actually plan my cooking so that I can mostly cook a meat dish every other day - I'm chronically ill, so only have so much energy, and this is a much more efficient way for me to cook so I have energy to do other things as well, like bake a cake on occasion. :P Veggies sometimes are for one day, sometimes two - depends on how much there is and what kind it is.

                  2. For me the issue was one of buying new food when I should have been eating leftovers, or using up ingredients.
                    My way round it is to cook in bulk as soon as I have bought fresh food and to freeze leftover portions. That way if I crave pizza there is no food sitting around uneaten - and if I don't want to cook there are always several meals to choose from in the freezer. (I should add that I cook almost exclusively vegetarian food).

                    40 Replies
                    1. re: Peg

                      I'm not vegetarian, but I freeze every last scrap. You just have to be aware of what is getting old before it actually expires. I'm contemplating freezing all the cookies we have left; when I'm not sure what works I just do it and see how how it goes. Usually better than you think.

                      Odd bits of meat go into a Ziploc bag for chili; chicken bones, veggies and such into another bag for stock, and casseroles onto a microwavable plate as is, for a homemade TV dinner. Free food!

                      1. re: coll

                        I was saving every last dang bone my parents went through and the fat trimmings and finally put the crockpot to good use (30 hours on low). now I have pints of frozen rich beef stock. veg trimmings too.

                        1. re: hill food

                          I have a beef bone collection started myself, but not enough for stock yet. I'll have a lamb leg bone after Sunday but don't think I should mix...plus probably couldn't fit in the pot anyway. The neighbors Rottie will be getting that probably.

                          1. re: coll

                            Please tell me these are raw bones.

                            Cooked bones should NEVER be fed - they become brittle and can and will puncture the esophagus and stomach lining. It's not an absolute, but it's a very real possibility - the dogs that are rushed to the emergency vet aren't the ones eating raw bones and raw diets.

                            1. re: JReichert

                              Even a dinosaur bone like that? I cook my lamb very rare so not as brittle as some might be. My friend used to feed her dogs the chicken wings after people ate the meat off them, now that scared me a bit. But guess she was lucky.

                              1. re: coll

                                My brother is a vet, and he told me that beef bones were not bad, but pork, and chicken bones were nono's as they are too brittle. Our boxers gnawed on beef bones all the time, and never broke one.

                                1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                  Some interesting info here


                                  All that being said, all this info is relatively recent. Growing up dogs got bones of all types, raw and cooked. All the family dogs liived till they were over 20 years old. Back from a year in Guatemala where dogs were lucky to get any type of food, even bones ... the bigger threat was starvation.

                                  Ya know, it could just be that since society switched to canned dog food and kibble, dogs don't build up whatever they did in the past to deal with certain types of bones.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    I only feed my dogs certain kinds of chicken bones. No hollow bones. Legs, wings etc. I do give them more solid breast bones.

                                  2. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                    If they were so dangerous, Petco wouldn't be selling bones and taking a chance on getting sued.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      a lot of dog products are made in China, I always read the back of the packet. My dogs are too important to give them chinese made food/treats

                                      1. re: smartie

                                        That has become a real concern lately. Luckily I only have cats, and they're not big on bones, just solid meat. I try to puree my homemade leftovers when I can.

                                        1. re: smartie

                                          I NEVER give my dogs anything from China, or anything with components from China, either. I do give them bones I get from the butcher - sometimes, my bigger dog ends up consuming the whole thing after breaking it down - is this OK? These are cow or buffalo bones, and raw. When I hear her crunching away I always have to be in the room with her eyeballing her because it makes me nervous she'll choke.

                                          1. re: montrealeater

                                            Forget the dogs. i never feed ME anything made or grown in China.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              me either, I walk the aisles with my reading glasses on checking the smallprint, I also am amazed at all the shower gels and candles etc made in China nowadays. Mandarin oranges and other canned fruits are often Chinese these days, it's getting hard to buy a whole lot made in the USA. I hear garlic is also Chinese oftentimes.

                                              1. re: smartie

                                                Beware the small heads of garlic stacked into a tube of stretchy mesh--usually about 5 or 6. Those ARE from China. Sold at 'cheap' grocery oultets everywhere.

                                              2. re: rworange

                                                RW - agree!! I stopped eating tilapia as all I can find here is from China or Ecuador....no way!!

                                                Also have cats myself (shock?) and am careful giving them not only grains but food from China as well....

                                                My stepdaughter began her dog on a Raw food diet and she is doing so much better! Her coat is sooooooooo shiny & her skin rashes are all gone....

                                              3. re: montrealeater

                                                Raw meaty bones are the best thing for keeping your dogs' teeth and gums healthy, especially if you don't/can't brush their teeth diligently. Raw chicken necks for smaller dogs, turkey necks for larger ones, are excellent and pos no danger of breaking teeth, since the bones are smaller. Beef knuckle bones do a good job, too. Marrow bones are not as effective because although dogs enjoy eating out the marrow, the leg bones themselves are so dense that only the strongest jaws can grind away at them. Some dogs may break teeth on marrow bones. The idea is for the bone to scrape away the tartar as the dog gnaws, so the bone must be consumable. Pay attention to what's happening at the other end of the GI tract, because the dog can get constipated from digesting all that bone. Chalky, dry, whitish stools may occur.

                                                1. re: greygarious


                                                  With my pup a few years back, I did raw for his first week, did a premium grain-free kibble for a month due to ease of feeding, and went straight back to raw after that junk. He farted up a storm and his stools were never solid on kibble - on raw, he had compact stools that I couldn't smell unless I were on my hands and knees above t hem and he never passed wind - or if he did, I couldn't smell it.

                                                  Plus he spent longer 'worrying' his bones and took his time digesting, and most importantly he wasn't being fed food that he had no biological need for (vegetation/grain).

                                              4. re: smartie

                                                Not to defend the safety record of China but I find that the anti-China rhetoric to be overstated. The recent dog food recall because of mold was an American producer. The recent fatal listeria contamination in beef, cantaloupes, salmonella in eggs, e-coli in spinach, peanut butter, bean sprouts were all American producers. It's so much easier to say, "Avoid Chinese products" and your food will be safe.

                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                  No it is easier to say "Avoid Chinese products" and your food is less likely to be harmful.

                                                  If anyone wants to start an Avoid China because, I'll contribute there because the abuses by this country are not limited to the small examples you give. It also unfortunately extends beyond food which is beyond the scope of this board. China earned its reputation by cutting corners and doing multiple coverups.

                                                  One recent examples is cheap Chinese truffles may actually destroy the truffle industrin in both France and Italy because spores from those inferior truffles that are being mixed by unscrupulous vendors are moving to the fields and taking over the local crops.

                                                  The greed, corruption and total disregard for the consumer from more examples than i can relate in a single post have earned them my personal disdain.

                                              5. re: coll

                                                The distinction that I pointed out is RAW vs. COOKED.

                                                "Dog" bones at pet stores are generally smoked; they're never cooked.

                                              6. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                "My brother is a vet, and he told me that beef bones were not bad, but pork, and chicken bones were nono's as they are too brittle. Our boxers gnawed on beef bones all the time, and never broke one."

                                                To a point - it depends on the bone's structure.

                                                Heavy weight-bearing bones are not advised because they are too dense and can cause broken teeth. Chicken bones and red meat non-weight-bearing bones are great - you can toss a dog drumsticks, quarters, and the base ratio of muscle meat to bone is just about perfect.

                                                You do need more red meat because it contains complete amino acids, whereas if you feed a lot of poultry you have to supplement and/or feed more organ meat than you do with red.

                                                1. re: JReichert

                                                  With some dogs the splintered chicken bones cause problems in the digestive tract, resulting in an expensive vet bill. I never give chicken bones to my dogs, only big beef bones, and none of the boxers, or other dogs we had ever broke a tooth.

                                                2. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                  Geez. We've always given our dogs the bones from pork chops without issue. :/ Maybe not any more?

                                            2. re: coll

                                              I almost never give our dogs bones from our dinner, but we had two round bones left after supper one night... I watched them work them over and before I could stop them, they each swallowed their treat whole! I was pretty horrified but once it goes in, what can you do but wait and watch? Both dogs were fine afterward but no more dinner bones!

                                              BTW, my black lab loves chewing so much, I've actually heard him break a tooth. He spat it out and kept right on chewing. THAT was a fun trip to the doggie dentist.

                                              1. re: MouseAndFork

                                                Somethings that I learned from my terrier (15 lb):
                                                - beef shank rounds are too hard, and too small to be very interesting. They are an awkward size to hold for chewing
                                                - pork bones from the shoulder and shank end of are great chewing - but:
                                                -- the shoulder blade is too soft
                                                -- the ball ends of bones are softer than the shank part, and, as best I can tell are safe to chew. They add a lot of bulk to the next day's deposit.
                                                - ribs, chops etc, are not good chewing bones.

                                                Fundamentally, bones should be given under supervision, and tossed as soon as you are concerned, whether you hear cracking, or they are disappearing too fast. Be a smart and observant dog owner.

                                        2. re: Peg

                                          Peg, that sounds good to an extent, but sometimes it is hard to do when you come home from the store & it is super late...there I go whining again. Yes, people who are mostly vegetarians have to deal with a pretty big load of fresh veggies, so you all are probably used to cooking ahead. I have actually frozen quite a lot of food, & labeled it etc...but when I take it out & open it up, I just think to myself..."this frozen pale looking blob just does not appeal to me, I can't believe it was that delicious chicken & wild rice casserole I had last week. Yuk, I don't want this!!!" Mind set, but bottom line is I still don't want it. All I can say is....get over it, let it thaw, sprinkle some fresh cheese over it & eat. Maybe if I get hungry enough....do I need a really good food sealer or is that just going to be another "gadget"...another couple of hundred dollars just to seal some food for the freezer. All these things are worthwhile for folks with a couple of kids, but for the singles or just pairs out here, it is truly a dilema.I am going to lock myself up in a closet for awhile until I come to my senses, talk about being "bucky"!! I think I am regressing or something.

                                          OK, I will freeze some stuff today...going to make a pot of soup from all those leftover Christmas veggies...I will freeze a batch for later....now I feel better already. Thank you. Are there any veggies that don't freeze well...maybe that is part of the problem...freezing foods that don't freeze well? I shall research that on the net. Bye & thanks for letting me vent.

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            Not sure if this would help you, but I am also in the position of getting home late from work and/or just being too tired to cook. Don't allow yourself to buy as much produce (or whatever it is you're wasting). I used to go to the store to buy food for dinner, and I'd end up with 5 different vegetables, and I'd never manage to cook all of them. But vegetables for 1 or 2 meals tops. If you waste dairy, make yourself finish the cottage cheese before you buy yourself a new yogurt. If you waste fruit, make yourself finish the apples before you buy bananas. Do this in whatever category you're experiencing the problem, and you'll get more used to forcing yourself to use what's on hand rather than indulging in the shiny new product at the market despite the fact that you have a fridge full at home. Good luck!

                                            1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                              Miriam...this is exactly what needs to be done....we are buying way more than is necessary...your suggestions will certainly help.

                                              1. re: MiriamWoodstock


                                                We cut down on the amount of veggies we buy on a grocery trip. While we still ate the veggies, they certainly weren't as appealing when we got around to eating them. Also, I'd usually have veggies left over from the last time we went shopping when we went shopping the next time. By cutting down, the veggies we eat are fresher.

                                                Okay, I'll grant you that it helps that the grocery store is across the street from us...

                                              2. re: cstout

                                                Whole potatoes don't freeze well, if you mash them first it works better. Most vegetables are great, for a soup or stew at least.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  coll, yes, I thought I read somewhere about potatoes not freezing well. I will just mash them, like you suggested. Thanks.

                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                    Then when you thaw and reheat, add some milk or half and half.

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      coll, I was just adding more chicken broth (yes, it is canned broth). Never thought to add milk or half & half. I need to be kicked off this forum for not even knowing basic stuff. You are so kind to walk me through this.

                                                2. re: cstout

                                                  Don't even look at it until it's been nuked. The unappetising icy blob will magically turn into something delicious in five minutes! Smell is more than half the battle, and that doesn't come back until it's heated properly.

                                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                                    Icy blobs....yes I do have a problem getting over the visual appeal...my mind is already getting into gear & saying, "This is going to be delicious again?? No way!" I just quietly leave the kitchen for awhile & hope things will look better later on. Nope...but after awhile I am getting mighty hungry so I start to put it in a dish or pot & hope things look better after cooking. Sometimes it works, sometime not. I try. I honestly don't know how/why some things don't turn out just as tasty as they once were. It's not like I left it in the freezer too long.

                                                    Case in point, I made a delicious chicken & wild rice casserole & froze some...well, that just did not even taste near as good....this has happened several times, so don't know what is happening.

                                                    How do other folks cope with this frozen syndrome??

                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                      My chest freezer is my best friend and I love pulling out delicious things that I have made previously when I am too tired to cook. Some things freeze better than others though, soup and braised items being examples of things that freeze well. However, I avoid adding rice or pasta to them and then freezing them because the starches get soggy. I make my starch fresh while my frozen block of stew/soup is in a covered saucepan on medium turning into dinner.

                                                      Lasagna freezes beautifully (I use my vacu-sealer for that, but foil could work also). I also like to make large batches of chicken stock, tomato sauce, meatballs and pesto. I find that Deli-tainers (the plastic containers they serve takeout soup in) are excellent for freezing things in, they are durable and space efficient. Another thing I always have going in my freezer is a bag with chicken bones, once I have enough, I make a giant batch of stock.

                                                      Air is the biggest enemy in your freezer so getting as much of it out of your food storage containers is key. For cstout's chicken and rice casserole the vacu-sealer would have been my first choice for storage and I also would have defrosted it overnight in the fridge and probably microwaved it to heat it up. The reheat method is important too. I have also learned a lot by simply googling 'can you freeze...?' and reading a few opinions on various blogs and chat rooms.

                                                      Cooking in large batches saves time and money so sometimes I devote a half a day to cooking a few things, portioning them and freezing them and I am happy that they are there waiting for me on lazy days.

                                                      1. re: suzysue2

                                                        Reheat method...I had no idea reheating needed to be considered too. I usually just thaw & put in the oven.

                                                        I will definitely be googling the "can you freeze" question. Thank you.

                                                        Also, that food sealer is sure looking like I could use one. I read somewhere to leave the food (chicken or whatever) right in the package it came in, wrap in freezer wrap, then put it in a brown paper sack & then sealing that up with some duct tape. Also, wrapping in newspaper instead of the sack would work too. Has anyone tried this? I am trying to figure out all kinds of ways to keep things from getting those nasty little "sparkles" on it.

                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                          If you are freezing fresh vegetables, many of them freeze better if they are par-boiled first before you freeze them. Removing as much air as possible is good. Another way to exclude the air is to cover the fruit/vegetable with water and then freeze it. The item will be encased in ice which excludes the air.
                                                          Also, remember that nearly everything and particuarly foodstuffs contain water. The water freezes and the ice expands which will break down the molecues of the food. When the food item is thawed this is why most fruits will be mushy.

                                                      2. re: cstout

                                                        cstout: "Case in point, I made a delicious chicken & wild rice casserole & froze some...well, that just did not even taste near as good....this has happened several times, so don't know what is happening.

                                                        How do other folks cope with this frozen syndrome??"

                                                        Leftovers, frozen or otherwise, often need a bit of salt, pepper, vinegar or lemon juice to bring them back to life when reheated.

                                                3. Some of the threads here address this topic: http://www.chow.com/search?query=food... I am sure you will find more if you do an expanded search on leftovers.

                                                  I do not waste food, pure and simple. Though I am now on a limited fixed income, I never did, even when I could have afforded to. They say "time is money". So is food. Would you throw money in the trash? My garbage can rarely smells, because there is almost nothing organic in it. (I wash and recycle most food packaging.) It's a combination of commitment to economizing and to the environment, organization, and creativity.

                                                  Did the milk go sour? Use it now (or freeze it) for mashed potatoes or for baking a cake or quickbread. Bread get stale or moldy? Cut away the mold. Make home-made bread crumbs (keep in freezer), French toast, or strata. Soupmaking is the ultimate reservoir of leftovers and trimmings.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                    But isn't the mold that you see only a small part of the organism? Like the mushrooms that you pick?

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      Ditto everything greygarious said, esp. the last paragraph.

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        Thanks for posting that link...a lot more to read about & learn from.


                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          I used to work where we had a stove, and everyone would bring leftovers in from home to combine with pack of ramen noodles into "Must-go Soup" for lunch for the contributors. Never the same ingredients twice!

                                                          1. re: Nanaverm

                                                            OK Nanaverm....that was a wonderful idea....can you give us some info as to what folks brought to put in the pot?? I am always trying to figure out what to throw into one of those packages...

                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                              Small amounts of leftover vegies and meats that weren't highly seasoned. And, hill food, the people involved were very responsible and not adding moldy oldies from the back of their fridge.

                                                              Which reminds me: One day I ate leftover mincemeat pie from the work fridge that had been sitting in there almost a week. Tasted OK, a little dry near the crust. Got bad food poisoning - or maybe not, ha, ha? A week later I learned I was pregnant! (Had no significant nausea during my pregnancy...)

                                                              1. re: Nanaverm

                                                                I'll even add highly seasoned food, like curried chicken. But then, we're big fans of highly seasoned food. :)

                                                            2. re: Nanaverm

                                                              I like the idea of an occasional omnivore and no-holds "stone soup" lunch (but would demand 2-3 participants give the goods a 'sniff test' before addition)

                                                              so few offices have anything more than a microwave sadly.

                                                          2. I will give this a stab. It took me years to figure out how not to waste food, to be honest. But it takes some determination and discipline.

                                                            No food enters the house without a plan for its use. It is fine to be inspired at the market, but then make sure you use that inspiration to get the other ingredients required to use it. Be rational about how much everyone can actually eat. If your family eats a pound of meat at a meal, don't buy 5 lbs if you don't already know how you will repurpose the leftovers into other meals.

                                                            If you have three days of food in your fridge, then no deciding at 6pm that you want pizza. You have the food in your fridge and now you actually have to fix and eat it. Seriously look at your calendar before going to the market. If Tuesday is a really busy day and you won't be home until 8:30, acknowledge that either you are pulling something from the freezer that night or getting take out. You won't want to start cooking a from-scratch meal when you get home.

                                                            Plan ahead for those days. When you make a pot roast or soup, freeze some extra for "those" nights.

                                                            Pick a country cuisine for the week so that the little side dishes can be used over and over, and added to. Perfect example is Indian food. Night one you make a tamarind sauce, the next night you might add some quick pickled vegetables. By committing to a cuisine, you can use all those bits and bobs and still have interesting meals.

                                                            Or pick a protein that can be repurposed. The most obvious is a roast chicken. Night one is the chicken with veggies and a starch. Night two is chicken enchiladas. Night three is a soup made with a stock from the carcass.

                                                            This is just a start, but maybe it is helpful.

                                                            16 Replies
                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                              smtucker...great ideas from your post. I don't know how to cook Indian food, maybe that is part of my problem...need to expand on the things I fix..got me to thinking here....more selections.

                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                But if cstout commits to making Indian for one week, won't she end up with a slew of spices that she won't use up in a year? I bought a block of tamarind paste a couple of years ago, and still have 3/4s of it left. I have half a dozen jars of spice paste and Indian pickles in the fridge. Basmatti rice vies for space on my shelves with arborio, calrose, and ordinary long grain.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  paulj....yippee!! I have one person on my side...these are some of the kinds of things I get faced with & don't know how to solve. I will trade you that jar of Indian pickles for my jar of Herbs de Provence with Lavender. Maybe we could start up some sort of co-op where we just exchange all this stuff..postage is another problem though......by the way, what is calrose...do I need to buy some of that or maybe you are willing to trade for something else.

                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                    Suggestions for tamarind paste http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/384283

                                                                    suggestions for herbs de provence http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/370628

                                                                    Chowhound to the rescue again!

                                                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                      Chowies are always rescuing somebody from drowing in their own stupidity!!!

                                                                  2. re: paulj

                                                                    That wasn't really the point... the point is to have some consistency in the menu for the week to reduce the amount of prep time daily by reusing common components throughout the week. If you don't cook Indian regularly, then that specifically isn't the solution. Pick Yankee, Southern, Greek, whatever...

                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                      This is a good idea. I find myself gravitating toward "theme weeks" for this same reason.

                                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                                      buy whole spices. They hold up longer

                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                        I've bought more than my share of whole spices. My whole coriander seeds must be 20 yrs old! :) Black cardamon nearly that. But I don't worry about waste of unused spices and condiments - they come out of my 'experimental food' budget.

                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                          I also have my whole spices for a couple of years. At first, I was using them at a good solid pace as I was go through my Indian cooking phase. Now, things have slowed down and I haven't used them for awhile. I should really consider asking people around if they want some.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            "I should really consider asking people around if they want some."
                                                                            that's what my friends and I do--we go through a Penzey's catalog, compile a group order, then split up the contents so we can try new things in usable amounts.

                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                              :) My problem is like... I bough my species from Indian grocery stores. They are very affordable and they offer a lot of "whole" species, much cheaper than McCormick. This is one area which I absolutely disagree with the whole notion of "you pay for what you get".

                                                                              I spend much less in buying species from my local Indian stores and I get better quality too.

                                                                          2. re: paulj

                                                                            An experimental budget??? Every Time I cook something it is "experimental".
                                                                            Know what you mean about those fancy spice jars...I have ended up with several pricey spices to make an "experimental" dish & I did not like the dish or the spice. If the spice is in one of those nice clear jars, I just wash it out & save it for rub mixes or even garden seeds. That way I don't feel too guilty. I tried planting my whole coriander spice, thinking it might come up....by golly a few of them most certainly did...unfortunately night roaming rabbits found them. I am wanting to do chili pequin seeds from the store just to see if they could come up....love those little babies.

                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                              I can't wait til I get my garden going and I can start saving seeds.

                                                                          3. re: scubadoo97

                                                                            I am also buying more basic foods, like whole spices. They not only last longer, but they cut down on variety. A lot of the variety on my shelves was actually unnecessay.

                                                                            If I need ground coriander, I grind up whole coriander, why do I need a separate set of bottles for ground spices? Plus, you can stop filling your shelves with spice mixes & make your own as needed or in batches, like making "chili powder" from chile powders, cumin, oregano, etc. Also, melanges like Herbes de Provence, can be put together as needed.

                                                                            My spice shelf was out of control, with too much unnecessary variety that didn't get used up, until I switched to buying fewer, larger units of whole spices at Indian stores, COSTCO & Penzey's.

                                                                            1. re: AsperGirl

                                                                              Yup, I absolutely do not get spice mixes. I mix my own on demand as a specific dish demands. And I cook with a lot of spices - most of our diet consists of curries of one description or another.

                                                                      2. Keeping your frige clean and straightened up helps tremendously. If you don't lose it, its less likely to go bad before you see it again and can use it.

                                                                        Make it a habit to thoroughly go through the frige at least once a week, preferably at least twice a week just to see what you have in there and what needs to be used first. Then, plan your meals around those items. Rotate stock as it comes in from the store.

                                                                        Buying less to start with helps as well.

                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                          weezieduzzit, excellent suggestions about the fridge.

                                                                          I really can't buy less because I have restricted myself to only going to the store once a week...that is a long time between shopping, but yes, buying less would be so helpful. I think it would be wonderful to shop daily, just enough for the following day's meals, no more. You would have to live around the corner from the store to do that, I live 24 miles from a store, so that is out.

                                                                          Back to the fridge....I can definately make it a top priority to know what is happening in there. I am pulling up the trash can next to the fridge...got a feeling there are some undesirables lurking around in there....yep, what in the world is that brown gunk in a Mason jar....oh gosh, that is where all my Mason jars have disappeared to...I know I labeled these jars...what is that stuck to the wall of the fridge?.....can't believe one of those labels ended up there...I have just found enough stuff to start a new compost pile, not to mention a half dozen jars that I sure could use.....to store more stuff in....is this a bad dream or what???

                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                            But if you regularly have waste, then couldn't you buy less? It might mean keeping some cans of soup or dried staples around until you get the amounts right, but it sounds like you are buying too much if you are throwing stuff out. Once you get into a habit of having to eat what's available because you don't have so much excess, then you can start bringing more into the house again.

                                                                            I don't mean to be holier than thou... this has just been on my mind because I keep dumping produce after it rots in my fridge. I have the luxury of living walking distance from many markets, so I guess I have zero excuse for this problem, whereas living so far away certainly presents a challenge!

                                                                            1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                                              dear Miriam...please don't feel you are trying to be holier than thou...you are just trying to be helpful...we are all trying to work out these problems & start the year out on a better note. As we confess to our sins, I think we are finding solutions & others are helping us to get there. It's all good.

                                                                              1. re: cstout

                                                                                you're very kind. :) good luck with the process! Oh, another thing I've started is buying frozen organic vegetables (I like trader joes, particularly the stuff in bags rather than the little boxes, becuase it's easier to just use a little). Allows me to have more variety on hand with less food that can spoil easily. Also, eliminates the need to chop/prep, which makes a big difference when I'm lazy. (go with frozen, not canned, because there's no salt and there's much better vitamin preservation)

                                                                                1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                                                  You get a free bag of veggies of your choice for the suggestion!!!!! Great idea...frozen is always a good idea.

                                                                            2. re: cstout

                                                                              If your main problem is 6 mth old jars in the fridge, then maybe you are trying to be too frugal. Those should have been tossed long ago, or never saved in the first place.

                                                                              In fact saving things in the fridge or freezer might contribute to waste, because there's a long time between when you bought or made the item and when you toss it. You can forget why you bought it in the first place.

                                                                              Your travel distance and long time between shopping trips in an important consideration. What is frugal for someone who can buy produce daily will not apply to you.

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                paulj...you have turned my thought processes around...BUYING TOO MUCH + STORING TOO MUCH = WASTING TOO MUCH. But hey, what are you going to do when you need only a small bit of something....gotta put the rest someplace. I don't want to plan the next meal based on that half jar of canned tomatoes...or should I???

                                                                                This is getting too complicated. I am going to fix a peanut butter sandwich while I figure out how to use up that jar of tomatoes....or is that really tomatoes in there...I sure could have sworn that's what it was...Nope, that is actually Miss Gracie's canned tomato preserves that she gave me last year...don't really know what happened to that jar of "real tomatoes". Somebody just shoot me.

                                                                                You folks are really trying to be helpful & I appreciate all the efforts & ideas. I am just kidding during all this, but in the real world, I am also listening. Thank you.

                                                                            3. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                              We throw away very little food. That comes from good menu planning, knowing what foods to cook, and what to avoid. (If the food was not well received when it was first made, what is the reaction when it returns as leftovers?)

                                                                              Your point about the refrigerator provides the best answer to the question of how to avoid throwing out food. There is a thread somewhere about the topic of too much stuff/not knowing what is in your freezer. (I keep a not-updated-often -enough list on the freezer door).

                                                                              I just threw away some science project that I could not identify. It was in a cereal dish covered with plastic wrap that was way under the meat drawer on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, but that's the first thing I've tossed in a long time.

                                                                              1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                There are only two of us, both retired. We have two freezers. Both chock full of food. My wife makes good soups BUT she will not use the vegetables that are rotting in the refridgerator. Instead she buys canned mixed vegetables for making the soup. For example, I like rutabagas. But her mother in W.V. never cooked rutabagas so she refuses to cook them also. It would be good in soup but there it sits, turning green.
                                                                                I have found out that you can't teach some old dogs new tricks. Throw our money into the trash and complain about the lack of money..

                                                                                1. re: dhmill

                                                                                  You mention you are retired, so are you the old dog that can be taught tricks?

                                                                                  If as you wife doesn't eat anything but bland food and refuses to eat soup with a routabaga, why not eat it yourself. Make your own food and let her make the rest for her. If she chooses to waste her food that is her problem.

                                                                              2. shop less often. i shop daily if i need to. i never buy more than i need. i never have to throw things out.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                  Jay F, I live 28 miles from the nearest grocery, so I have to make the trip worthwhile. I tend to overbuy just because I know I won't be going back for another week. Oh dear...I really want to live close to a grocery store!!

                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                    I live around the corner but have a once a week rule too. They key is meal planning. I rarely freeze things other than bananas, meats, and broths. We have very little waste.

                                                                                2. Very simple solution to the "by the time I get home it's too late or I'm too hungry to cook" complaint. Cook on the weekend, then reheat. Eat one of those meals when you get home, then at 8 or 9p.m., cook tomorrow's dinner. Always cook extra portions unless it's a dish that is really horrible if not eaten "a la minute".

                                                                                  The official rules about how long food can be stored in the refrigerator are, for the most part, balderdash.
                                                                                  Two weekends ago I splurged on pre-made sweet-and-sour brisket from the supermarket, because this store makes it as well as I could. It was enough for several meals. I ate the last of it 8 days later, and it was still as good as the day I bought it. I am sure the vinegar helped preserve it, but the food safety police would never approve.

                                                                                  You think they threw out the wilted produce or moldy-edged cheese and bread during the Great Depression, or anywhere today in poor or strife-ridden areas? Heck no. Germaphobia is for those with deep pockets. Trim and use.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                    greygarious,,,,wonderful posting. Lot of common sense here. Yes, I think of the Great Depression & the people going hungry...I am ashamed of myself for being so wasteful....not anymore though. You people are being harsh & straightforward & I appreciate it. Thanks for the advice.

                                                                                  2. It is rare that we throw away food. Apart from just hating waste, we just can't afford it.

                                                                                    So, we plan what we're going to eat and shop accordingly. It's not rocket science.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                      Harters, I am glad all you people are popping up & taking a stand on how those things just aren't happening in your households. Not rocket science at all. Makes me feel terrible.

                                                                                      I knew this subject was going to get me in big trouble....I feel like I am being flogged with all those rotten veggies & fruits ( I do feed the birds & chickens with them, though...duh, they are eating better than I am!). I am in the center of the ring & there are all these people flinging all that wasted stuff at me & yelling & screaming....here...take THAT....splat splat, I just fell down in the slippery mess & broke my leg...everyone walks out & says, "leave her be...there's plenty of food for her to get by on...waste not....want not. I am begging for someone to give me a chance...I will show you all I can stop the waste....Oh no, someone has thrown a rotten watermelon & hit me in the head...

                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                        Don't feel bad, cstout--just yesterday I took a jar of opened roasted peppers out of the fridge for homemade pizza, and yup, they were fuzzy. Don't even know why I HAD jarred peppers, since I grow them. The fuzzed ones went into the compost bin and I reached into the freezer for my homegrown ones. Silly things we buy, eh?

                                                                                    2. I'm not that good with solutions, but I do know where my problem lies. I am sooooo easily seduced by good looking food when I'm out shopping, and I often buy things without really thinking through a plan for when to cook them. And I never put anything back once it's my shopping cart. So if I've already selected zucchini for tonight's supper, and then I stumble upon some shiny fresh Japanese eggplant, I'll just add it to the cart. Now I've got 2 vegetables but only the time and inclination to cook one of them tonight, and I don't stop and think that I won't have time to cook the other item this week. And a few days from now when I'm in the market to get milk I'll see some of those sweet little peppers, and thik how nice it would be to roast those sometime time soon. Oh, and such fresh asparagus I see them unloading!

                                                                                      It's like that, all the time. And that's just vegetables. It's true for raw meat, cuts of chicken. etc. The only food I really force myself to cook the same day is fish, but then what to do with the boneless chicken thighs I just took out of the bitcher section, or the ground veal sitting in my fridge at that very moment?

                                                                                      Once food is cooked, leftovers are not really a problem for me. I often cook a lot of different foods at once (trying to use up whatever hasn't rotted away waiting for me to cook it!!), and we're happy to eat leftovers in varying combinations so it doesn't seem like we're having the same meal every night. If it's a food that freezes well, I'll freeze it if there's enough for a real meal. I never freeze small amounts of food because then it just clutters my freezer and doesn't save me from having to cook a meal.

                                                                                      1. Food waste isn't a problem in my home, not because we don't toss anything out, but because it's at a reasonable level. We are frugal without being anal about it. Cheap, but not afraid to experiment. If I have to toss something, I make a mental note of it, but there's no funeral.

                                                                                        If you think waste is a serious problem, may be you should start by understanding why it bothers you. Are you trying to save money? save the earth? be more critical of yourself? deflect criticism? become a better hoarder or misser?

                                                                                        How about making an inventory of what you toss during a week? Focus on the major things at the start, the actions that do most violence to your values. Tossing leftovers that you've grown tired of, or never liked in the first place, is quite different from tossing half a loaf of stale bread. Tossing a few old carrots, or a wilted bunch of cilantro, is different from tossing onion peels, or an eggplant that is too bitter. Tossing something that you buy regularly is different from tossing an experimental buy.

                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                          An inventory of waste is an excellent suggestion. I tossed a lot of salad mixes that were bought because I "should" buy them. After tossing many bags of greens and mixes I realized that we prefer lettuce-less salads and sides of other vegetables over salads. The only traditional salads we seem to eat are spinach salads so now I only buy that. If I had written it down every time I tossed yet another bag of them I would have had to admit it sooner and had less waste.

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            paulj...wow, there is really a lot going on in your posting...really deep stuff. Are you a psychiatrist? Do I need to go to one? Maybe we could pull up a chalk board & diagram this thing out. I have answered yes to all of your questions...now what? Does each question lead to a different method of dealing with the problem, or am I good to go on all of them?

                                                                                            On a serious note, I am really feeling a little better about this whole thing..you have made me realize that I am actually being overly frugal. Agonizing over the piddly stuff that gets thrown out. I will have to figure out exactly how this habit started & why.

                                                                                            Of course, there is a lot of room for improvement....I do waste more than I should, but you just defined exactly what is "waste", or maybe I should also say what "waste" is NOT. Now I know the difference between the two. Thank you.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              I like your attitude. I don't sweat a little throwing out either. I like to recycle leftovers in soup or just eat them on the 2nd day. Mr. Sueatmo used to be quite wary of leftovers, but he has learned to eat them in a meal, if not as the meal itself. Sometimes people are suspicious of food spoilage, so they don't consume the same food a second time, but if you aren't afraid of the box of leftover pizza from the restaurant, why should you be afraid of mom's leftover meatloaf or mashed potatoes. ?

                                                                                              Whether you throw out dribs and drabs of food, or ulitmately consume them, the food is still gone. If you are throwing out huge amounts, then as other posters have said, evaluate your assumptions and procedures.

                                                                                              I don't think it is shameful to throw out a little food. And I don't pass judgement on those who do or don't.

                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                This seems like an OK place to ask this question. And I AM only asking, not insinuating anything. So...why is food waste so troublesome to some people? Doesn't the food eventually end up back in the earth anyway, whether or not it passed through your digestive system or got there via garbage truck?

                                                                                                Let's say you buy 10 apples and let 5 go rotten in the fridge and chuck them. You haven't somehow prevented someone else from getting 5 apples. There isn't a financially struggling person who is now going without apples because of YOU.

                                                                                                I recently watched some BBC documentary about food waste in the UK, and the general tone was panic and horror about how much food gets wasted. So, what if people just bought way, way less? Wouldn't that also have negative consequences - for farmers/producers?

                                                                                                I don't really see the connection to the poor, to the third world etc. They're not short of food because we waste it. They're short of it for other reasons.

                                                                                                Also, re: the environmental argument, really, how IS it better for the environment to pass it through a human gut before putting it back in the land? I genuinely want an answer to this! Sometimes it seems like a lot of this may be about somehow assuaging our own guilt at having 'too much' or 'enough' when others have not enough, or none. But are the practical issues real, and if so, how?

                                                                                                1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                  Fair questions, montrealeater. Some simple answers for the first:

                                                                                                  1. General U.S. veneration of thrift, from our Puritan roots
                                                                                                  2. Wastage of $$ used to buy the food, that could be put to better use/saved
                                                                                                  3. Filling up landfills with unnecessary food waste
                                                                                                  4. Respect for the food itself: it's nutritive ability; also the recognition that a meat animal was killed for its bounty
                                                                                                  5. Moral disparity between empathy and support for hungry nations, and wasteful behavior at home

                                                                                                  As for the 2nd q (passing through human gut), eating or composting food is better for the environment than a landfill. Landfill food entombed in plastic bags decays slowly; food runoff that combines with chemicals can leach into adjacent waterways; land is utilized for garbage rather than residence or farming; lots of municipal $$$ goes to trash pickup and maintaining dumps and landfills, which can be smelly eyesores (you want to buy the house next to the dump or landfill lol?). :)

                                                                                                  1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                    So...why is food waste so troublesome to some people? Montrealeater, you have some very good points here. I cannot speak for anyone else, but bottom line for me is wasted food equals wasted money. We could sit down & have a glass of wine & spar back & forth & both of us would have some very valid arguments. I hope others will step in & help out, I just wanted to stop wasting food for my own selfish reasons, more money in my pocket to splurge on other things. It's called "living within a budget". My budget was being blown to bits, I sat down & looked at everything & found nothing much had changed in my life except that I was spending more at the grocery & really not eating any better to speak of. That is what I am trying to fix. Like one poster here said, "it's not rocket science". I cannot change the world, feed the hungry or keep food out of the landfills, but I can fix myself.

                                                                                                    Am curious, don't you have a spending limit on something in your life or should I say anything in your life? Same theory.

                                                                                                    Bless you, I know you really want to figure it all out, I am not qualified to help you though. So why did I even post? Because I think you are important & you are seeking answers. Hope you find them from someone here.

                                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                                      Oh, you'll get no argument from me that it is a waste of money on a personal level! That much seems obvious. There just seems to be a lot of feeling re: food wastage that concerns itself with what posters see as the morality of the issue when in fact there is no impact, in the real world, of many of these arguments. For example, if I buy my 10 apples and chuck 5 of them away while doing a dance of glee and laughing secretly at those who cannot afford apples, while Person X throws away 5 apples and feels really bad about it, and respectful of the food value of the apples, our personal feelings on the situation change nothing on the ground.

                                                                                                      The meat argument is one I can understand. Something arguably sentient died for that food. I get the respect argument there.

                                                                                                      Re: landfills, surely the problem is non-biodegradable garbage bags (and nonbiodegradable garbage in general) and not organic waste per se? Food waste is going to break down. Yes, it takes up space in landfills and takes energy to transport it there, but it also takes $ and energy to process and clean our municipal water - organic matter ends up *somewhere*, whether it's landfills or cesspools or under a bush in the woods, right? If I compost my organic vegetable matter, walk it to the landfill and then drop it on top (not in a bag or container), is this OK? Worse than a compost heap in my yard? Better?

                                                                                                      And I'm not asking these questions because I just love to throw food away, or because I have unlimited cash and can afford to buy tons of food only to chuck it - I don't, on either point. Also, I don't own a car, so if we're trying to out small carbon footprint each other, I probably beat anyone who does own a car. Heh heh. :)

                                                                                                      1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                        For me it is wasted money, wasted energy producing it-transporting it, wasted time dealing with it, and did I mention wasted money. Having been brought up by parents who lived during the Great Depression I was taught not to waste anything, so tossing food is a downer for me. Mom mentioned that dinner at times was just a boiled cabbage, or some potatoes, and here I am tossing enough food to make several dinners at times. So for me, it hits at my core values.

                                                                                                        The problem with landfills is that once it is covered, the food is essentially preserved, as no moisture, or air can get to it-even if it isn't in a plastic bag. I saw a story (possibly National Geographic) where some scientists did core samples of a New York landfill. They found dried food, and newspapers from the Nixon era that were quite well preserved. The same items with the right conditions would have composted in a couple of weeks.

                                                                                                        1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                          Its how we individuals or we as a culture feel about food wastage. I am not sure our abhorrence of waste comes from the Puritans. I was raised by parents who grew up in the Depression. My Dad's family was poor. There is an attitude toward food that might not change when it has been forged from privation. You didn't waste anything because you might need it tomorrow.

                                                                                                          If I were poor now, I am sure I would have different feelings about food, its consumption and its waste. I don't think food should be deliberately wasted, but I accept that sometimes I buy the wrong thing, or too much of a thing or a thing it turns out we don't want to eat. And I don't see much difference between throwing it out and eating it. I've paid for it, and one way or the other it is gone eventually.

                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                            You kicked in the memory of my grandfather from Poland.

                                                                                                            If he dropped food to the floor he would pick it up and kiss it as a sign of respect.

                                                                                                            Obviously food wasn't easy to come by in Poland. Then he lived through the great depression. Then he lived through World War 2 with its food rationing. He was a chef in a cafeteria, so the family lived better thru the war than most, but it was still tough.

                                                                                                            But montrealeater is probably right. In fact, wasting food is probably better for the economy. If it doesn't rot in the fridge, it will rot at the store.

                                                                                                            Think of all the artisan companies being supported by the dozen vinegars on the shelf or 30 bottles of mustard in the fridge.

                                                                                                            it is not as if the food we don't eat is really going to the poor, despite some stores donating what they don't sell.

                                                                                                            There's that mid-20th century guilt trip of parents telling kids to eat their dinner because children are starving in Asia ... like anyone was going to box up and send the leftovers.

                                                                                                            Maybe if it was paired with helping others ... save $10 in groceries and donate it to a food bank.

                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                              Yes, I think the thing is that it wastes food and money to buy more than you need, or things you don't really want to eat, or things that don't really contribute to good nutrition. For me, the thoughts about wastage should come up front before I make the decision to buy. I am a bit of an impulse buyer, so I'm really posting to myself.

                                                                                                      2. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                        For me, it's largely about the resources that go into food production, only to have the food go to waste. I try not to waste food in my own kitchen, but small scale kitchen waste doesn't bother me that much. Large scale waste in the fields, in transit, then at the market is what bothers me. We use a lot of resources in our food production cycle - petroleum, pesticides, fertilizers. So the food itself can go back to the earth (unlikely in a landfill), the non-renewable materials used to produce the food are gone.

                                                                                                  2. There are very few things that can't find a place in soup! And being handy with soup-making means that those exhausted post-work dinners can turn into comforting, easy soup & bread meals. Even leftover salad (I remove the wilted lettuce, but some people love that too) can work in soup.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: elenacampana

                                                                                                      So simple, so earthy...bread & soup. Nourish the soul. I always thought I made pretty good soup, but I have gotten in the habit of not varying what goes in there, certainly never heard of leftover salad in soup.

                                                                                                      I do love soups, so maybe I should start looking for more soup recipes. Maybe I should just start being more bold & just start putting more of my leftovers in there...better than just tossing them out. Thank you for pointing this out to me.

                                                                                                    2. I found that, since I've cut down on the amount of food I prepare for the two of us, we barely ever have any leftovers anymore. And when we do, we have them for lunch or dinner the next day or the following day.

                                                                                                      But I used to make dishes as if I were expecting a family of 8 to be joining us, and there was more waste.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                        Cook less, eat less, waste less...great combination!

                                                                                                        LESS is MORE!!!

                                                                                                      2. Based on my observation, I say it is poor planning and/or weighting convenience over necessity.

                                                                                                        People buy things which are on sale or in bulk, but they don't really need at the moment. They thought: I will eventually use it. However, that does not always happen and the foods had to be tossed away, so it economically for oneself and for the society.

                                                                                                        I plan my cooking as I shop, so I don't waste a lot. However, I do waste more than when I was young. When I was in college with a very limited budget, I wasted nearly zero. With a very limited budge, I only got to buy what I absolutely needed, and my refrigerator was never more than half full (while living with 2 other roomates).

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          Chemicalkinetics, yes being retired has led me down a more wasteful path, simply because I have more time to look around the stores & be tempted to grab off the shelves....poor planning definitely is a major culprit on my part.

                                                                                                          I do not have children, but I did/do have some over at times & I like to indulge them with goodies that I know they do not get at home...but that has to stop. Just because they are with me for awhile, does not mean I have to toss the checkbook away & not keep to my budget. Thank you for being so brutally honest.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            Oh yes, being retired has really been a downfall for me....I too am on a "fixed" budget, but once in a while I do some part time work & therein lies the problem....I feel like I can take that "extra" money & go right to the store & buy all those things I have been oohing & aahing at..after all, this IS extra money.

                                                                                                            I am not overweight, so it is not like I have to feed a big belly, just LOVE to have food around, that's all. I can maintain a budget in all areas of my life just fine....until it comes to food, that is a different story. Yes, an item on "sale" is a weakness for me...just a couple of months ago, I bought a very big pork loin, thinking I would make a dozen dishes from it. I do not plan to do that again....I am porked out, but as you said, poor judgement on my part. Thanks for your suggestions.

                                                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                                                              I think we all have wasted foods to different degree. It is probably impossible to completely eliminate waste, but we can reduce it.

                                                                                                              What I have found, which worked for me, is to imagine how the foods would fit within a week of cooking. If not, then I reconsider if the foods can be stored for long term. For example, a bottle of orange juice has a longer shelf life than a bottle milk. An onion lasts much longer than a tomato; broccoli lasts longer than bean sprout....etc. So, I try to I have a clear plan of cooking when purchasing the easily perishable foods, but not too worry about foods which can last awhile. This take some pressure away from planning every single ingredients.

                                                                                                              As for meat, I try to cut up my meat into different portion sizes and freeze most of the ones I don't need at the moment.

                                                                                                              Another reason why people MAY buy more than they need is the fear of running out of foods -- even the chance is low. I certainly understand that. So I always have some frozen foods as my "buffer", like a bag of frozen peas or beans. This eliminates my fear of "what if I run out of foods before the weekend"

                                                                                                              I understand that some time people (my relatives included) like to buy the budget portion because it can save money -- that is assuming all the foods are used. It does not really save money if the budge pork is 30% less, but 50% got tossed away.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                "Oh no, someone has thrown a rotten watermelon & hit me in the head..."

                                                                                                                Has that happened in your dream? :D By the way, I noticed that you posted about the same time I wrote the previous one. This can lead to mine not showing up in your radar.

                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                  Please don't try your hand at analysing me...someone else on here already did that & thank you very much, they found me to be perfectly "normal", whatever that means. I don't know who posted what first, but anyway, glad to hear from you. Lot of good info about how to cut down on waste...am learning a lot from all the postings...stay tuned.

                                                                                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                  I think the fear of running out of food is more real than we'd like to realize. I'm in my mid-twenties. Many people I know are unemployed or underemployed (these are people with bachelors or masters degrees). I don't know many people my age who are not living paycheck to paycheck. An unexpected expense may mean living off dried beans and freezer foods for a few weeks. I've dealt with this, and so have others I know. I can only imagine what it's like for people with children.

                                                                                                                  Having an empty fridge can be terrifying when you've had the experience of nothing in the bank account and a lot of month left. I think it's a very real fear. I try to combat it by reminding myself that I have cans and frozen items, but it is a psychological obstacle. And I'm a person who is pretty privileged, all things considered.

                                                                                                                  1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                                                    caseyjo, your story brings back memories of my younger days when all I had to eat was popcorn & Dr Pepper....cheapest thing I could find to get me to the next paycheck. Your story makes me all that more ashamed for wasting food when others are struggling for whatever reason.

                                                                                                                    Recently when I was in the grocery store, I saw a very elderly lady dressed pretty raggedy, just staring at some Pepperridge Farm cookies. She turned to me & said, "When my ship comes in, I am going to buy all the things that I dream of eating." My heart went out to her, & I am thinking "poverty is right here in America, we need to help these folks. Right then I started feeling guilty & knew in the back of my mind I was doing the wrong thing by wasting food.

                                                                                                                    Hang in there dear, things will be brighter...God bless you & all the others who are struggling.

                                                                                                                3. re: cstout

                                                                                                                  "an item on "sale" is a weakness for me"

                                                                                                                  Bingo! I have to use extreme self control when I see an orange 'Manager's special' sticker in the produce department , or the 'was $5.99 now $1.99' tags in the international cheese bin. DH laughs at me when I have to cover my eyes walking by so the orange stickers don't seduce me.
                                                                                                                  I don't throw out much, but more often than I would like, I am using up fresh vegetables that would have been a whole lot better if I had actually used them when they WERE fresh. It seems to take a long time for us empty nesters to get used to cooking for one or two.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                    OMG..."an item on "sale"...famous words..those are. The orange stickers will trick me every time.

                                                                                                                    Or how 'bout this, a whole bag of lemons on sale or a whole bag of apples on sale. I grab it before anyone else sees it...gotta be a good buy. And I only use about 2 lemons a month...this is not computing...but gosh, a WHOLE bag. I just love WHOLE bags of anything. Please do not keep putting things in bags like that...there are some overripe things hiding in there & you have just flim flamed another customer. Not to worry though...the Chowies are patrolling us weak minded souls & they have vowed to lead us out of the land of wastefulness..sorry, I can now turn my body away from all that.

                                                                                                              2. Impulse buying, lack of planning, and lack of discipline are a few among the many contributing factors. The best way to eliminate waste can be summed up thusly: buy only what you need to eat in the next "N" days, and then eat it.

                                                                                                                To accomplish this, you need 1) a detailed meal plan for the next "N" days, taking into account what's already in your pantry and what's on sale or will be on sale in your favorite market, and 2) a shopping list for the things you need to accomplish your meal plan and your housekeeping tasks.

                                                                                                                The detailed meal plan will allow you to plan for leftovers, both when to cook them and when to eat them. The shopping list will ensure you buy only what you need, as long as you stick with the list.

                                                                                                                Shopping without a list (and/or not sticking to the list) and without a clear plan of what you're going to cook and eat when is quite likely to result in impulse purchases, purchasing things you already had, and omitting things you need, necessitating another run to the market.

                                                                                                                Shopping without a plan, and preparing meals without a plan often results in the impulse to get pizza or takeout at 6pm (as another poster pointed out), you're too tired to cook, you don't know what to make with what you've got, etc. etc. etc.

                                                                                                                Bottom line, make a plan and make a list and stick with them. you'll save money and time, you'll eliminate or reduce a great deal of stress and you'll eliminate most food waste.

                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: janniecooks

                                                                                                                  "To accomplish this, you need 1) a detailed meal plan for the next "N" days, taking into account what's already in your pantry and what's on sale or will be on sale in your favorite market, and 2) a shopping list for the things you need to accomplish your meal plan and your housekeeping tasks. "

                                                                                                                  I have to disagree that its necessary to be that rigid. I buy what looks good at the store- the best looking meat, the best looking produce (and virtually nothing in packages other than rice, pasta, spices.) I think on my feet at the store to put meals together in my head based on what looks the best at a good price or wait until I get home and see what I have that can go together. As long as I have a few basic staples (like the rice, pasta and a good arsenal of spices) nothing is wasted as long as I keep an eye on what is in there and keep it organized. I rarely even know what's for dinner until I open the fridge and see what needs to be cooked and what mood we're in- and we eat very well (never processed and never boring!) and spend no more than $30-50 a week on groceries (many weeks less if I bought meat that looked good and froze half or something like that.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                    Being "that rigid" isn't quite how I think of it, but hey, I've been called worse by my friends! I don't like to linger in the grocery store, I do my planning at home with a cup of coffee, the newspaper, my cookbooks, and my plan. I keep alternatives in mind or explicitly written on my list in the event I can't find what I need or what I wanted doesn't look too great at the market. I hate shopping and my goal is to get in and out quickly, so it works best for me to operate strictly from a list.

                                                                                                                    Different strokes as they say, that's what makes life interesting and what makes chowhound so robust. I think there's room for expressing a range of opinions here.

                                                                                                                    1. re: janniecooks

                                                                                                                      Oh yes, there is such a great range of opinions & ideas. I really wish I was so structured like you are. But wishing & doing are two different things. I think the "alternative" option is a great idea...I have made some bad shopping mistakes when a particular item was not available / not fresh / not whatever. Not having plan "B" is definately something I need to work on. Thanks.

                                                                                                                    2. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                      weezieduzzit...OMG...you make it sound so effortless & it probably is. How many is in your family?

                                                                                                                      I try to stay away from too much rice & pasta even though I just love both. When you cut out those 2 things, it becomes much harder to make a meal. There just went about 2 dozen meals for me.

                                                                                                                      Yes, at one time, I could fix just about anything from those 2 ingredients & eat cheaply & deliciously...now I have to come up with a lot more ideas. Believe me, I reach for the rice/pasta box all the time & must remember that I have to cut down on them. Darn it, I want some now....Shrimp & pasta to be exact...well, I could save a little cash & go for the grilled chicken instead & just a teeny weeny bit of pasta...yes, a few morsels floating around, I will put just enough in there so the chicken will hide it & I am good to go. Thanks.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                        Most of the time its two of us, sometimes the teenager, too.

                                                                                                                        Some nights it's really challenging but I enjoy figuring out how to make the best thing I can with what we have. I keep Indian, Mexican, Asian and Middle Eastern spices around all the time so its quick to grab something really flexible- like chicken- and go any direction with it. An eggplant could become parmesan or could be grilled or roasted with whatever other vegetables there are (a great solution for when you have one sweet potato or regular potato and other bits and pieces of veggies that don't add up to much on their own,) and serve it with pita and yogurt. Leftover steak can be sliced and served over a spinach salad or cubed up in the next morning's breakfast hash. As already mentioned in this thread- just about anything can be made into soup successfully. My mother in law sent ham home with us from Christmas dinner, which I'm really not a fan of, but it is a great seasoning for split pea soup so I repackaged into smaller containers and will use some this week and freeze the rest for the next time I want the soup. If we end up with no leftovers one night this week I can make the man a ham sandwich for lunch.

                                                                                                                        I really try to only make enough pasta or rice for reasonable servings (another way not to waste, too!) so I don't have to spend the extra hours on the treadmill to make up for it- I LOVE pasta and know that if I make a lot of it I will eat a lot of it. I try to make each plate 50% or more vegetables these days- even if its a rice or pasta dish.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                          I love both rice & pasta too but mostly try to stay away from both - I just have a habit of overeating them. I'd prefer to have a protein & veggies most of the time, but it does get boring - so it's easy to just get takeout on certain nights.

                                                                                                                        2. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                          I agree with you, weezie. An advance weekly mean plan precludes taking advantage of manager's specials and the quick-sale markdowns. I too plan on the fly. My first stop in every department is the marked-down section. I do use a shopping list and the weekly flyer, for things I absolutely need or intend to buy on sale, but a good mark-down alternative supercedes a similar item on the list.

                                                                                                                          I am retired and live alone. But I'll buy a whole pork loin if the price is right. I'll carve it up myself when I get home, into small roasts, chops, scallops, and chunks, and freeze. It'll last me a whole season, which is fine.

                                                                                                                      2. This is primarily a US problem because of our huge capacity for storing food. I don't know anyone in Europe with a fridge as large as what is in most middle class American kitchens. Having a huge fridge just makes it too easy to lose stuff in there. It also makes it way too easy to buy stuff we're not going to use.

                                                                                                                        When we moved last month, I found stuff in my old fridge--expensive condiments and such--that I'd forgotten about simply because they got shoved behind other, fresher items. So this has led to my resolution to clean out the fridge once a month (once a week for prepared foods and leftover take-out), and to label everything. It can't go in the fridge or freezer without a name and a date. I really don't want to have to unwrap that foil to find out what's inside.

                                                                                                                        I have no idea how successful I'lll be in the long run, but so far, the cleaning out process has resulted in much less waste for the past three weeks.

                                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                          Isolda, you have a three week lead on us...that is great. My great downfall is those jars of wonderful luscious things like exotic mustard, Pickled something or the other & bottled dressing will lure me every time. Really, how many bottles of gourmet vinegar do I really need??? Right now I just looked in the fridge & counted 5 of those bottles. Those expensive condiments are on my black list for quite a while. Keep up the good work!!!

                                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                            Vinegar does not need refrigeration. Move them to a cabinet - more fridge space to squeeze in new splurchases!

                                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                              Well, if I moved them to the pantry, then I would forget about them & just go buy more. As for making room for the splurchases...I am very adept at stacking stuff one on top of the other, oh yes, sideways works too in case the bottle/jar is too tall. Always room for one more thing....is my motto...well, it USED to be my motto. I am giving up all those evil ways, yes I am!!!

                                                                                                                            2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                              So I am not the only one who has at least 10 kinds of mustard in the fridge and pantry? Maybe it's time to make some mustard chicken or something.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                They're great if you like a variety of vinaigrettes. My favorite is walnut mustard.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                  Seattle food writer Nancy Leson came up with a great term for it: Condementia. Don't you love it?!

                                                                                                                                2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                  One way I save money -- though that's not my motivation for doing it -- is by not buying condiments, except for mustard, of which I have only one container, maybe two, at a time. The only time I have ketchup is when this one particular friend comes over for breakfast. And I've never owned a bottle of salad dressing in my life. If I have a salad, I dress it alla Marcella Hazan: toss in olive oil and salt, then vinegar (which I do have in numerous varieties). If I need mayo, say once a year, I make it in the cuisinart.

                                                                                                                                  I roast a chicken on Sunday, eat 1/2-1/3 of it that night, then coax it into two more meals, at all of which I eat potatoes and carrots, or other veg. I make stock the next day, and soup the night after that. I freeze the leftover stock for other uses. I never have enough leftovers to make "everything but the kitchen sink" soup. I use an onion, carrots and potatoes (both of which I bought to eat with the chicken first time around), often frozen peas, plus a rind of parmigiano-reggiano if I have one. And ditalini or other teeny-tiny pasta. And lately kale.

                                                                                                                                  Just doing this with the chicken can take up four nights of eating.

                                                                                                                                  I generally don't shop or plan according to a list, but I do get to go to the store every day if need be, so I don't necessarily recommend that for you.

                                                                                                                                3. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                  Isolda, my wife wraps everything left over from a meal in foil or waxed paper. Or she places the food in a bowl with a plate on top of it.One can never tell what is in a package without opening it.
                                                                                                                                  I have purchased graduated glass bowls with lids for the purpose of storing leftovers (you SEE what is in a bowl) but she refuses to use them. There the bowls sit on the countertop unused. Now what?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                    You take her wrapped food and put it in the see-through glass. If she rewraps them, you reglass them.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                      my DH will put the food into the glass container, and then proceed to wrap with saran, rather than take the lid out of the cupboard! I have the lids and containers stored separately because of the shape of our cupboards :(

                                                                                                                                      1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                        So why do they do things like that when there is a better way so easily available?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                          habit. sheer habit. why does my family bag things that are already sealed? why does leftover green salad go in the fridge and not re-used in the next evenings meal while it's still plausibly edible?

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                      This year's biggest reducer of food waste so far is record-keeping, so relentlessly that it's almost become a habit: labeling and dating every container that goes in the fridge, and updating a whiteboard that inventories the fridge.

                                                                                                                                      I keep a roll of masking tape and a sharpie near the fridge for labeling, and the whiteboard's on the side of the fridge, where it's easy to see when I sit at a table with a cup of coffee and do some cooking planning.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                        I also keep a sheet of paper with what is in the freezer along with the dates. It is very easy to forget what is lurking in there.

                                                                                                                                    3. The thing I end up throwing away is produce that's gone bad. I know exactly why this happens. I go to the grocery store, impulse-buy nice looking fruit/veg and then don't have time to cook it all before it goes off. I'm more conscious of this than I used to be but it still happens sometimes. Leftovers NEVER get wasted in my house - we love leftovers. We're also guilty of having food to prepare and then deciding we're too lazy and ordering in. That happens.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                        montrealeater, make it a point to designate one day a week, as "Soup Day". "Hmmmm, Thursday is soup day, let me go to my fridge to see what veggies I can make into soup!" If you don't make the whole soup, you can at least get started on the soup broth base...and finish it later.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                            me too, I over buy at the farmer's market. It all looks better than at the grocery store and on Saturday mornings I am filled with ambition to use all kinds of veggies during the week. Comes Thursday I am tired and the veggies are on their way to spoiling.

                                                                                                                                          2. Just about anything savory can be made into a soup, or a salad. Just add boxed stock to any protein and veggies to make a quick soup, add leftover starches at the end. You can literally make soup in 20 minutes this way, You are only limited by your imagination. I have a friend who uses her leftover nachos to make "tortilla soup" this way, and it's great! The leftover canned tomatoes or tomato paste that you're talking about should be put in the freezer. Freeze in small portions to be added to your spaghetti sauces etc. Leftover bread, in salad makes a killer "Panzanella salad", etc.....Good Luck!

                                                                                                                                            1. After reading all this, let me sum it up and let me know if I’m correct.

                                                                                                                                              - You are retired and on a fixed income.

                                                                                                                                              -You work part time from time to time and use that money for items that interested you on past grocery trips

                                                                                                                                              - You have extra time for shopping which doesn’t seem to extend to extra time to plan

                                                                                                                                              - You like cooking for others such as the local kids and keep extra food around for that

                                                                                                                                              - You don’t like to eat pre-made meals you freeze because even without trying to reheat them the frozen ‘glob’ looks icky to you

                                                                                                                                              - You are willing to freeze virgin veggies and meats to incorporate into soups

                                                                                                                                              - You buy bargains such as a bag of lemons or apples and only use one or two

                                                                                                                                              - Many times you might only need a portion of something for a recipe such as a half a can of tomatoes and you stash away the rest in the fridge and forget about it.

                                                                                                                                              - You have chickens that you do feed some stuff going bad. You also have a compost pile

                                                                                                                                              - You have a computer and access to the internet or you wouldn’t be posting here

                                                                                                                                              - You wrote “I don't want to plan the next meal based on that half jar of canned tomatoes...or should I???’

                                                                                                                                              Let me answer that last … yes.

                                                                                                                                              Otherwise this is nothing but an exercise in food hording without any solution. You will just be storing in a different way and not using anything you store.

                                                                                                                                              I don’t make lists and shop from them. I buy what looks good and in season and use that. You don’t sound like a person that making a list and sticking to it would be effective.

                                                                                                                                              How about this?

                                                                                                                                              1. Week one – shop for what looks good

                                                                                                                                              2. Week two – see what is left in the fridge and plan some recipes around what is there

                                                                                                                                              3. Use Chowhound and search the internet. It isn’t like this site isn’t littered with posts about what to do with half a piece of toast and such.

                                                                                                                                              4. Before the next trip to the market, make a one-time sacrifice to the food gods. Clean everything perishable out of the fridge you don’t plan to use in the next week and start over. Feed the chickens. Compost.

                                                                                                                                              Buy what you want week one. Then before going to the market on week two look in the fridge and plan around that leftover can of tomatoes or whatever. Ask on Chowhound. Search the web.

                                                                                                                                              There are things you seem to think are mistakes that are not.

                                                                                                                                              Bag of bargain lemons? Keep the one or two you will use and juice the rest. Freeze juice in ice cube trays until you need it. Make lemonade from it when the neighborhood kids stop by.

                                                                                                                                              Large pork loin? Just cut it up and keep what you will use in the week and freeze the cut up meat for future recipes.

                                                                                                                                              Bag of apples? They last for weeks in the fridge. Go online and see what to make from them. Apple fritters? Apple butter? Apple cake? Apple juice? Apple sauce … to go with that pork.

                                                                                                                                              So what if you have a dozen types of rice? It lasts forever. Each week plan one meal around using a bit of one of those rices.

                                                                                                                                              Vinegar doesn't go bad. Take up pickling. Use it in sodas. ASK on this site how to use it.

                                                                                                                                              Items like Herbs de Provence with Lavender don’t seem to be impulse buys. You wait until you have part-time job money. Search the web prior to buying and see exactly how you are going to use that.

                                                                                                                                              If it is a one-time dish, either forget about it or just suck it up and let it room with you the rest of your life on the spice rack. Leave it to an enemy in your will (I say this due to a bottle of lavender salt I bought once. If I had not moved and tossed things, that was my plan for it)

                                                                                                                                              Again, if you buy something that you might not like, ask on chowhound for ideas on how to make something out of it. If life hands you lemons … you know.

                                                                                                                                              33 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                Brilliant summary, RW! Might I add one thing? Every couple of years I buy assorted dehydrated/freeze-dried vegetables online. The bags are not larger than snack or sandwich baggies, so they store without a problem. If I want to make soup or meatloaf or stew, say, and have run out of carrots or celery and don't want to go to the store, or the weather is nasty, I pull out the dried stuff. Once it rehydrates as it cooks, you would not know it didn't come from the refrigerator. Considering what their weight would be fresh, there's not a big price difference. The stuff keeps for years and comes in handy, especially when I only need a small amount. I also get powdered eggs, sour cream, and cheddar. The eggs are okay for most baking, as is the sour cream, once rehydrated. The cheese powder adds punch to mac&cheese and mashed potatoes if I run out of cheese, and tops popcorn. I have trouble getting around in snow and ice, so these staples help me out over the winter months.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                  Well, that is another thought ... the op might consider a food dehydrator.

                                                                                                                                                  i have always had trouble keeping milk in the house. I forget to buy it. I thought with stepkids that problem would be solved ... but no. Their charming habit has been to open a new bottle when the previously opened milk is down to 1/4 full ... and never touch that almost empty milk again.

                                                                                                                                                  Since i just use milk for coffee, i learned i could freeze the leper milk in ice cube trays. Three cubes work for me in a cup of coffee. Better than me fuming about it going sour.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                    Food dehydrator....if so, what size is yours & what brand? What all do you dry in it??

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                      Just commenting on a reply.I don't have one though I have been considering one more and more.

                                                                                                                                                      The software on this site occasionally crashes for me and i list a reply about keeping berries in glass jars ... a subject I have extensive experience with.

                                                                                                                                                      This chow digest article sums it up best

                                                                                                                                                      i compared it later to some pricey food storage systems and given a jar is less expensive, it was the better choice

                                                                                                                                                      it was a casual tip many years ago on the board that i gave a try and was amazed. Most berries will keep two weeks. My fragile white raspberries that barely make it home from the farmers market revive in glass jars and last a few days. in the past I needed to eat them that day.

                                                                                                                                                      Berries go unwashed into a glass jar which goes inot the fridge. That is it. No muss. no fuss. As the first link lists it is also great for grapes and cherry tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                        berries in jars...the 2 links you posted were very informative...had no idea about doing that.

                                                                                                                                                        I really like to buy those fancy little tomatoes on the stems, but they just don't last. I wonder if I should leave the stems on & just put them in jars or what? Thank you so much for this bit of info.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                    dehydrated celery!!! gah, why have I never thought of that before! Thanks greygarious, I'm going to go salvage that head of celery I bought for a single rib. I really hate buying celery when I know I'm not going to be able to use it up, so this is a great idea. Plus, the dehydrator will warm up the house on this cold, cold day :)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: westernmeadowlark

                                                                                                                                                      Celery wrapped in aluminum foil will stay fresh and crisp for a month or more if wrwapped in aluminum foil.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: westernmeadowlark

                                                                                                                                                        Why worry about tossing celery? It's mostly water, and when sold at 99c per head, pretty cheap.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                          >>> Why worry about tossing celery?

                                                                                                                                                          Well, isn't that the whole point of this topic.

                                                                                                                                                          Even when i didn't do much in the way of recycling food, I also despised tossing the celery.

                                                                                                                                                          Learning the trick about celery was one of the greatest food saving things i've learned ,... only slightly lower than keeping berries and cherry tomatoes for weeks in glass jars.

                                                                                                                                                          I learned it in a really weird place too ,... waiting for a staff meeting at Charles Schwab, the IT VP gave an eclectic slide show that included the 'stock' tip.

                                                                                                                                                          i scored two bunches of celery for 25 cents at Thansgiving. I was happy that celery not used in the stuffing was still crisp and fresh for the soup i mad from the frozen carcass a few weeks later.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                            mhm, all this, plus

                                                                                                                                                            now i'll have instant celery on hand for soups and sautees, pre-chopped and ready to go in.

                                                                                                                                                            a whole head of celery takes up nearly half my veggie crisper drawer - i'd rather use that space for something else :)

                                                                                                                                                            I'd never heard about wrapping it in aluminum foil! i will try that next time i have to buy a whole head - this one that was in my fridge is now to the leather stage on the dryer. i just tasted a piece and it was surprisingly tasty, sort of salty/umami

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: westernmeadowlark

                                                                                                                                                              gotta love how much celery shrinks when dried - the drying racks were completely covered a few hours ago

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: westernmeadowlark

                                                                                                                                                                LOL. Have had "celery shrinkage" myself. I always forget to get an extra bunch to dehydrate, it's such a nice ingredient to have available.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: westernmeadowlark

                                                                                                                                                                  Do you chop the celery before drying or leave it in stalks? By the way, that is a beautiful picture....I tried to enlarge it & my post disappeared, so if it pops back up unfinished, I am sorry. Do you use your dryer a lot? What do you dry?

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: westernmeadowlark

                                                                                                                                                                  Celery is used as an organic source of sodium nitrite in 'uncured' bacon.

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                  You say you keep berries & cherrry tomatoes for weeks in glass jars? Do you put a lid on them...do they stay in the fridge....never heard of this?

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                            Your post reminded me of that old movie, This is Your Life. Well, it's all here folks, the good, bad & ugly, rworange layed it on the line. You certainly have given me food for thought (pun intended). What it boils down to is I really do know all these things....well, maybe most of them, but I just don't follow through. That is what is called pure laziness on my part & no disipline...just flitter around buying this, that & the other & then cry when I see all that wasted stuff. Not no more though...I do not have a single excuse for being wasteful...you & other folks have budgets, shop wisely, plan on how to use things up...the rest of us certainly can do the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                            I suspect most of the other folks posting here know where their weaknesses are & once the problem is addressed, as you have just meticulously done for me, they know how to correct it in their own way. Sometimes it takes a confession or kick in the pants (or both) to bring us back to a sad reality that money is being wasted in foolish ways.

                                                                                                                                                            My humble thanks to all you wonderful folks for offering your suggestions to me & the other wasties (that is a new word, by the way).

                                                                                                                                                            And my special thanks to you, dear rworange, for all the thought you put into this just to help me out. Believe me, it has not fallen on deaf ears.

                                                                                                                                                            It's the little things that add up, like that half can of tomatoes, very simple if I would just keep track of it & put it in the very next thing if possible. Each step leads to a more efficient control.

                                                                                                                                                            I am taking notes right now from your post & came across vinegar being used in sodas...I don't know quite how I should do that...please explain if you have a chance.

                                                                                                                                                            Bless you all!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                              In Google or search engine of choice enter: beverage vinegar recipe

                                                                                                                                                              The most well know vinegar drink (I think) is the shrub.




                                                                                                                                                              Cocktails using vinegar are popular and just substitute cocktail for vinegar when searching.

                                                                                                                                                              I thought you might get a kick out of this site that has lots of recipes for the fruit vinegars they sell


                                                                                                                                                              This just has lots of vinegar recipes including vinegar pie


                                                                                                                                                              Don't beat yourself up. I suspect you have a load of leftover Christmas food and freaked out about wasting it.

                                                                                                                                                              I think you probably are doing better than you think. And if all else fails, you got those chickens and compost pile ... make friends with someone's dog or cat.

                                                                                                                                                              Have fun buying stuff. You sound a bit like me, always on the lookut for something new ... seriously I bonded with you over the herbs with lavender ... I hated that damn lavender salt I could never use. if only it snowed here, I could have used it to de ice the sidewalk.

                                                                                                                                                              if you want to use it up and clear the shelves a bit more, you will. If not, enjoy the momentary taste.

                                                                                                                                                              And seriously, ask on Chowhound how to use something you want to lose. Thousands of minds think better than one.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                This message is for all the folks who have been posting here.
                                                                                                                                                                What really prompted me to create this post about wasted food was a shriveled up turnip.

                                                                                                                                                                This incident was very profound & I am wondering if I should even try to relay what occurred. Call it an overactive imagination, a silly story, whatever you wish. It makes no difference how you perceive the subject, I am at a total loss as to why this happened to me. I will share the incident & if is not your cup of tea, I certainly understand...a few days ago I would have laughed if someone had posted something like this. Take it or leave it. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                I was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee & checking the news & weather. Very ho hum. I felt drawn to look at a long wooden tray that was sitting next to me. There were a couple of oranges, 2 pears & 5 shriveled turnips. I thought to myself, "how pitiful those turnips look." I was drawn to one in particular & picked it up & realized it had little bright green growth on the top. As I held it in my hands I got such a weired feeling from that turnip, it pulsed life, sort of like a heart beating. I started to "feel" the very essence of that turnip. Feelings turned into thoughts in my mind. These are the "thoughts" that transpired.

                                                                                                                                                                "You have disgraced me & shamed the vegetable kingdom by your slothful ways. We have been put on this earth to feed mankind & animals...it is our main purpose in the heavenly order of life on the earth. Humans have lost their connection to what constitutes life. We grow, we thrive & fulfill our commitment, as all the others in the plant & animal kingdom do. We are eager to become nourishment for humans & animals. We have many other duties too, but these functions cannot be understood by man at this stage of his evolution. This last spurt of green you are looking at is to awaken you to the fact that we are indeed living, but so much of the plant kingdom has been altered to produce what man calls a perfect fruit or vegetable. How foolish for man to think he can change what has been set forth eons ago. The plant kingdom is disintegrating due to man's selfish ways. In the higher order of life, this shall eventually come to a halt. Man's ways shall never conquer the earth...he shall destroy himself, but there will always be some to remain that will help restore "LIFE".
                                                                                                                                                                For those who have ears to listen, they will know they have been called to follow the path back to what has always been & shall always be".

                                                                                                                                                                All of this occurred in a split second, a veil had been lifted & I stepped into a world that has no words to describe it. I can only compare it to what others have called a "near death experience". A poor comparison at best, but that is all I can think of to describe this.

                                                                                                                                                                I have no particular religious ties...it is all good & true.
                                                                                                                                                                There is no "esoteric" meaning behind these words.
                                                                                                                                                                I don't dwell on this type of stuff.
                                                                                                                                                                No reason at all for this to come about.
                                                                                                                                                                I have no hidden message or platform to convey to anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                I can understand if the Chow moderators call me down about this post. it certainly has drifted from the framework of what is normally posted. Why am I even posting this? I don't know, except it has completely changed my way of addressing food in general. Maybe it will change your way of thinking about food too. Maybe you will just smile & go on to the next post or you might think, "she is definitely pushing this thread too far." Whatever the case may be, I wish to thank you for letting me share my bit about "The Turnip & I". I am in awe of what I experienced. Perhaps you also have had a similar experience, but you kept it to yourself....perhaps I should have done the same.

                                                                                                                                                                Please, if you have read this far & found the subject completely off putting...do not judge this one post to be the context of what is usually exchanged between the Chow folks.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                  Your awakening definitely sounds legit. One thing that I've learned,is that in openings like this,messages can come in that are mixed,Truth and untruth.I have learned that Love would never give advice that is'nectarless' or would want to u to feel guilty. As far as I know Turnips don't care if you waste them.They might care if you become a softer person, )

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hetook

                                                                                                                                                                    There are many levels of consciousness & perception. One level is not higher or lower than the other. Possibly that turnip was just a prop for some some other meaning to come forth. Thanks for sharing your way of thinking about the subject. Sorta like the blind men touching the elephant.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                      Why can't consciousness have levels higher or lower than another? Doesn't mean one is more right..just more evolved. Does a turnip have the same spectrum that u do?I believe everything comes from meaning and should be care for. I would be wary to generalize things together.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you, cstout for sharing your epiphany with us. I, for one, find it very interesting, and not at all off putting.
                                                                                                                                                                    We are all here on CH, to talk about food....

                                                                                                                                                                    You have validated my feelings of pride in my vegetable garden.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                                      Oh yes, gardeners & their gardens have a very special rapport..it all meshes together. Digging in the dirt can be one of the most rewarding things on this earth...at least I think so.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                      Cstout, you have a neat sense of humor, and part of me wonders if you're pulling my leg. On the other hand, I like your sentiment and will believe you, I really do feel as you described, about fresh foods. I was in a work meeting in the breakroom this weekend, and found myself staring at an apple sitting upside-down on the counter: how perfect were its five little "feet", how rich the color. :)

                                                                                                                                                                      I sprout at home partly just to get this feeling daily. Nothing like seeing hard dry brown seeds become fresh green sprouts; so cheering even in grey winter.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                                        DuchessNukem, thanks for the compliment, I have done a lot of "leg pulling" , but the turnip thing was not in that category at all. I too love to watch seeds, have you ever put some seeds in a damp paper towel & folded it up & placed in a zip lock baggie? Wow...the seeds sprout so fast...if you have not heard of that , just google "seed sprouting in baggies". Great stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                          LOL, cstout, I sprout a whole bunch of stuff each week. I've got homemade and purchased sprouters. I can go on and on and on about it.....

                                                                                                                                                                          I appreciate you sharing your turnip. I've had an accusatory moldy zucchini or cucumber or so, and it's a shame to see them go.

                                                                                                                                                                          And to get back to the main theme: I don't much like frozen leftovers (I'm very textural); my husband tires of refrigerated leftovers after 2 nights. I now have a tiny (2-cup) crockpot that can make 2-4 servings of soup, beans, stewed meat, enough to have a day or two.

                                                                                                                                                                          We have to "talk each other down" sometimes when we're getting home late and want something easy lol.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cstout


                                                                                                                                                                        Have you been eating mushrooms lately?

                                                                                                                                                                        Joking aside ... and i was ... I say if you got them chickens and the compost pile, that turnip had no reason to complain. It wasn't going to waste but just on a different path in the circle of life.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                          No, I don't do mushrooms....but got to thinking about that turnip & all those other veggies..what about chopping all our excess veggies into small pieces & then flash freezing them & then putting them in baggies or other freezer containers for later use?

                                                                                                                                                                          Also, am not sure which is best, dehydrating the veggies or doing the flash freeze thing...just mulling in my mind how to avoid another "turnip" episode...one of those experiences is enough...don't want to hear from those green peppers in the fridge..

                                                                                                                                                                          Heard potatoes don't freeze well, are there any others that won't freeze?

                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry I am bombarding you with all this stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                            It depends on how uppity you get about the potatoes. i think frozen mashed potatoes are swell, but others who are probably better cooks get bothered about it.

                                                                                                                                                                            My freezing strategy is to make the dish rather than the produce, so hopefully someone else can answer the question.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                          cstout, I registered just to reply to this post... I like what you said, it was powerful (for me), and it struck home. Thanks for sharing....

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: luvcubs

                                                                                                                                                                            luvcubs, thank YOU for coming on board..the Chowhound folks are always eager to help out in anyway they can.

                                                                                                                                                                            Spend some time & browse around all the topics. Type in a keyword or two in the "search" box & see what pops up.

                                                                                                                                                                            Of course you are welcome to post your own topic.

                                                                                                                                                                            If you are having trouble navigating, just let us know how we can help.

                                                                                                                                                                            It's all here, just takes a little time to find....hope to see you around.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                      Ooooh, I gather the lavender salt is history but I have to add that I go miles out of my way to buy lavender salt which I sprinkle on thick slices of tomato (in season), drizzled with a bit of olive oil. So good.

                                                                                                                                                                    4. I learned an expensive lesson recently, flour beetles or something similar. I had stocked the pantry for hurricane season with cans etc and unbeknown to me a bag of spices that one daughter had brought back from Argentina a year ago was infested and so did my pantry. It's a slow process the spread of those bugs and by the time I noticed it, I had bugs in flour, teabags, rice, pastas, packets and so on. Lots of dried food had to be thrown out and a constant clean of the pantry to rid myself of those pesky bugs.

                                                                                                                                                                      So New Year's resolution is to not stock up on so much food, to ziplock dried foods, rotate cans and packets more frequently.

                                                                                                                                                                      I also plan to make 'bang-bang' chicken a few times a year - buy a whole chicken and bang the bottoms of all those salad dressings and other sauces that seem to take up all the shelves in my fridge door. A lot of those dressings nobody likes but they cook up just fine on chicken. Fewer impulse buys from me, no 2 for 1s unless I really use the product like mayo or cans or find someone at work to give the second one to.

                                                                                                                                                                      How about food sharing with coworkers or friends, I buy 2 for 1 lettuce this week and friend offers me a 2 for 1 canteloupe next week?

                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                        Consider keeping dry goods in glass mason jars to avoid critters.

                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah, salad dressings and vinegars are good for marinades. i found that unloved condiments also work well when mixed with yogurt or sour cream for a dip or dressing. They also work mied with mayo for sandwiches. i;ve used up stuff like mustard, relish, etc that way.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                          In case you haven't done this: hold the dressing bottle by the base, then swing your arm in fast, big circles. Centrifugal force drives the remaining dressing up into the neck. Act fast to pour it out.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                            Ack, I just had an image of doing this with the lid off and the mess it would make!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                              lol.I pictured my 2yr old walking in the kitchen and me smoking her on the head with it!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                I simply thump the top of the closed bottle against the heel of my hand. This makes the small amount in the bottom go to the neck of the bottle. I tried the centrifical method once and the bottle slipped out of my grip. What a mess! Another thought is that not all of us have good movement in our shoulders for the centrifical method.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                smartie, you poor dear, you did not deserve all that, a big waste, but it was in no way related to you. I have learned to put things in Mason jars, stick to the wide mouth ones, they are easier to get things in & out of. I had bugs one time like that & learned a hard lesson...now everything just goes into jars. I don't bother to put a label on the jar, just cut out a portion of the original box the item came in & stick it in the inside on the top of the ingredients...just don't forget to put the label back in every time you use some out of the jar.

                                                                                                                                                                                Love that "bang bang" chicken recipe....never heard of it before!!

                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, sharing is a wonderful thing...all kinds of things we could be doing along those lines, but most times we don't want to bother to remember to lug the stuff to work to trade or give...laziness popping up again.

                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for posting.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. Try your best and be gentle with yourself.:)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I think there is no way around being disciplined with respect to meal planning so that you eat up most of what you buy. Portioning, freezing, donating....all decent strategies too.

                                                                                                                                                                                  At my house, leftovers are rarely a problem as we eat them for lunches at school/work. If a meal is a big disaster and no one really likes it, I throw it away immediately so as to avoid cluttering up the fridge excessively. A bigger problem is buying items without a specific plan - I am still working on that problem as I am the main culprit. One habit that is helpful for not forgetting about stockpiled items is keeping a list on the side of the fridge about what needs to be eaten - either leftovers or fresh/frozen ingredients that should be used up. Right now, savoy cabbage, naan, and sour cream are on the list.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, I compost all non-meat matter so at least I feel slightly less guilty about throwing away a slimey veg now and then.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The best way to stop wasting food is to stop wasting it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: beevod

                                                                                                                                                                                      So few words.....so much meaning

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Lots of good ideas here. I also use leftovers that are too old to eat to feed my chickens and pigs. I also put veggie scraps in a compost heap. At least they're not going in the trash.

                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hippioflov

                                                                                                                                                                                        With animals like that, and compost heap, the trash is probably the most expensive way of disposing of scraps. You may even have to pay for it. For someone living in a big city apartment the disposal economics will be different.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But then there's the question of what you do with the waste from the animals.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know about anyone else on farms, but all my animals are free roaming during the day. Having an animal confined 24 hrs a day is not good at all. No filth or germs to worry about that way. Also, I do not use pesticides or any other chemicals on my ranch. The animals are in excellent health & happy. Sad to say, some folks don't practice these things.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                            I know what you mean. That's why we raise our own or try to buy from farms we know. The whole industrial meat industry saddens me.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, we do eventually eat some of the animals. The waste goes on our garden or to friends who need to fertilizer their gardens. i've even had people offer to buy our manure and compost. Some urban areas do offer opportunities for composting and recycling. When I lived in NH, the town had a recycling center and a community compost bin. It was all free, I just had to go to the sites and sort.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                              You compost the chicken and pig waste and then use it to fertilize the garden to grow more veggies. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. cstout, you inspired me to deep-clean my fridge this morning - sorting out, throwing out and wiping down. What I tossed: 1/2 a basket of grapes that I knew were a mistake even when I first bought them (past their season & not too attractive, but my son wanted them), the remains of a can of chickpeas that I forgot to freeze after using the first half, and about 1/10 of a package of fresh coriander.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Not too bad.
                                                                                                                                                                                            I used to drastically overbuy fruit & veg at the open-air market ("Everything's so cheap - how can I lose?") but have been working at being more realistic about quantities.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Good luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: almond tree

                                                                                                                                                                                              I love those markets, but sometimes they can lure a person to overspend. We must always be viligent in food thinking. You are doing great. Keep up the good work. My fridge has got to be addressed TODAY!!

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. One more thought - you say you grocery shop once a week and it is too far to shop more often. What about shopping LESS often? If it's your habit to go shopping every Thursday, what if you look in the fridge on Thursday morning, see what is left to make a meal out of, and go shopping Friday or Saturday instead? What if you only shop when you really need to instead of just making a habitual trip?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                Shopping Less often...been thinking & trying to plan for even extending the weekly shopping trip even further...what an excellent idea!

                                                                                                                                                                                                Yep, grocery shopping once a week was definitely a habitual thing. Found that I can extend it an extra day or two quite easily. And I thought I was forcing that once a week thing to the max, just goes to show what can be done if we want to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for making me think out of the box.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Planning and spreadsheets are too much for me. Instead I peek in my fridge when I grab a snack and do a quick survey. Has kept my fridge clean for years without much hassle. And I don't impulse buy, because that ends up in wasted food 99% of the time. If there's something exciting I want, I jot it down on the flipside of my shopping list and later make plans for it so the whole enjoyment of it comes from eating it, not the thrill of buying it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think very few things when I peek:

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. tomorrow is garbage day, let's chuck that thing before it molds because no matter how I kid myself I know it's not going to get eaten and when it surfaces again it will be too scary to touch
                                                                                                                                                                                                2. half a jar of pickle relish, I'm not buying hot dogs, I'll make tartar sauce and pick up some fishsticks or something
                                                                                                                                                                                                3. chop that last piece of bbq chicken and toss it in the freezer to save for a pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                4. ugh who put the veggies there, they always freeze! I'll throw them in soup tomorrow
                                                                                                                                                                                                5. yay! enough stuff to make yummy fried rice!

                                                                                                                                                                                                The only problem is that one cannot just hope it will manage itself. You have to have a goal of managing your fridge and try things until you find what works for you. Don't wait to do it until someone tells you the perfect solution, just start doing little things and it will come together over time for you. Stop making up reasons and excuses, it does nothing but prolong the agony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I cringe when I have to throw away food. Over the years I've came up with a few ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Give it back to the earth - invest in a composter or create a compost pile. I now am okay if fruit and veggies ate passed,

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Invest on a food saver - the new ones are pretty cool and it saves food up to two times longer

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Brunch at home - brunch in restaurant speak means using leftovers up why not do this at home - Tuesdays Greek night turns into a Greek omelet, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. Have a plan - last nights steak can turn into a burrito, same ingredients different recipes

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sandwich_Sister...I do have a food saver, but it has stopped working & I have just been agonizing about whether I should get another one. Limited space in my kitchen is a major concern & if it goes onto a shelf or wherever, I know I will tend to just overlook it & say, "next time" I will use it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I really would like a food dehydrator, but know next to nothing about them...also space is another concern. Don't really know if drying food would save me money...just another route I need to research the pros & cons of. All of the ideas posted here have really got me to thinking about reducing my food bill. Thanks for sharing yet another bunch of ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have absolutely no problem on figuring out to do with a leftover steak....EAT IT...no need to turn it into anything thing...just go for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The new food saver is pretty cool and they have the Tupperware type containers that take the air as well - just be careful with cooked chicken as it sucks out the moisture . Anyway if fits nicely in a corner space it's not like our first one we stash it in the corner and it holds the plastic bags inside of the thing. Easier, and more convient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Being just me my husband a little dog who we don't allow to have people food it's quite hard, and unless it's chilli my husband isn't a fan of leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sometimes I think of others who may appreciate food. Break room at the office works well with left over soups, cookies, cakes, desserts, potato salad, rice dishes that are easily heated up work well we just stick a note on the fridge with the dish - I include when it's made just in case people wonder how d the note is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Today I got this Culinate newsletter with tips from Jonathan Bloom about wasting less food.


                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think this thread may have already touched on most of the tips. If you are interested in the topic of waste and haven't read it already, I highly recommend Bloom's "American Wasteland" which is ALL about waste at all steps of the food chain. http://www.americanwastelandbook.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, cstout, I really appreciated your turnip tale. Sometimes spiritual (vegetal?) moments come when we least expect them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                                                      the Culinate website was so much of what everybody was already talking about here...looks like folks from everywhere are wanting to learn how to stop wasting food. I especially liked them mentioning what all can be put in a stock pot...I would have never dreamed of onion bottoms, corn cobs, parsley stems..the articles goes on to list several others. Also something was mentioned about putting celery leaves in salt...don't know what is the purpose of that...were they trying to dry the leaves so they could then store them in jars or what?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The website was great...I have subscribed to it. Thanks so much for sharing...every little bit helps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe it infuses into the salt and becomes celery salt. I always chop the leaves along with the celery when cooking, they're the best part!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. This post and a lot of the responses really surprise me. I can't remember when I've ever thrown food away. I'm not that great of a planner, but I think I like the challenge of putting scraps of this or that together into meals, or trying to see how many different dishes I can get out of 1 chicken or 1 large roast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      We buy most of our meat and poultry in bulk from neighbors (half pig/cow at a time) and get eggs from another neighbor, plus we grow and put up lots of veg and fruits. Maybe that makes us more aware of what's in the fridge or pantry, I'm not sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think it's great that you posted, and that you realize it's something worth trying to do better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Transplant_DK

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The new year always brings "New Year's Resolutions" into the spotlight. I read somewhere New Year Resolutions never work...maybe not, but I think we are taking a better look at what is going on around us. When I picked up a bag of green onions at WalMart & read "Origin of Product - Bolivia", I thought, this cannot be. We are bypassing the US & depending on a foreign country to provide our needs & then wasting it to boot. Americans are unemployed...why can't they grow some of this stuff....& the beat goes on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is a wonderful thing to be able buy from your neighbors & grow your own....you are living the American dream. Do you realize how fortunate you are??? I have fresh eggs, but I could never butcher one of my "girls".
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, you realize the hard work involved to get food on the table & you definitely appreciate the value of it. And most of all, it must be a good feeling to know how close you are to your food. Bless you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "When I picked up a bag of green onions at WalMart & read "Origin of Product - Bolivia", I thought, this cannot be."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          So how's your garden of green onions doing at this time of the year?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I actually took those green onions & left about 3 inches of the green part from the bottom & planted them in a big pot...they are doing great. I read you could re purpose other veggies / fruits also.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can just snip off the green parts (leave a little green) & then they will grow tall again. After about the 4th cutting, I find the green tops are getting to be a little bland & lose their bright color.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am anxious to do this with some celery & a pineapple too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Try this with garlic bulbs. The greens are just garlicy enough to throw in any recipe and you don't have to keep buying garlic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hippioflov

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great idea. I've always wanted to try leeks too, maybe this year. I have green onions I did many years ago and they come back every year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                My mom, in Southern Cali, has a healthy crop of lemon grass grown from sprouted stalks she had purchased. They grow outside all year round.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Uumm, lemongrass, how / what do you use lemon grass for in cooking?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Has anybody tried planting a beet bottom...just got me to thinking about what all this idea could work with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like hippioflov''s idea of doing garlic greens & coll's idea of leeks....gosh if we keep finding all these things we can stick into the ground, we won't have anything to throw into the stock pot..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, you use half for cooking and stick the other half in the ground.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstout


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are lots of vegetables that you can grow in pots and harvest from over and over. Beet leaves for salads is one of them. Several kinds of lettuces can be grown in pots. If you take only a few outer leaves the lettuce plant will generate more leaves over and over. I have a south and west facing sunroom so it is easy for me. But south and west facing windowsills also will work. Garlic and chives work well. So does swiss chard. I harvested from a swiss chard plant for three years. During the winter be sure that you do not over water. It's a great temptation to do so. When it warms in the spring all of the pots can be placed outside on your patio, porch or whatever. Most times the natural rainfall will be enough. Make sure that the pots have drainage. As for buying a product from Bolivia, Chile or where ever, some of us live where the produce will not grow during the winter. If we don't have some growing in our own pots on the window sill where else are we going to get the produce if we are in-between seasons here in the U.S.?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I do realize how fortunate I am, but I had to laugh about living the American dream. I'm an American, but didn't pay any attention to where my food came from until I had been living in a foreign country for a number of years. It is a good feeling to be close to the food we eat, but it's not something that happened overnight. One thing I've really had to adjust to is that some foods are simply not on the menu during different times of the year. Here in Denmark, we eat root vegetables during the winter and the only tomatoes we consume come from the jars I put up in the late summer. I can't tell you how excited we get at the first pea shoots and baby lettuces!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I couldn't slaughter my own animals either, which is why we support our neighbors who raise the animals. We see them in the pastures and know they have a good life and that they are treated humanely at the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Transplant_DK

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Denmark....I have always dreamed about visiting there someday or maybe even living there. Have you heard of any cookbooks written by Anna Pump? I believe she was from Denmark. Search on annapump.com. Her books are geared around what is available for each season. The recipes are fabulous too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not Denmark; she is a former customer of mine, she is from Germany near France or Belgium. She knows her stuff! I was surprised to learn she used to be Jackie Kennedy's private chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      coll, thanks for correcting me..have you heard of Sara Lee Chase...she has a couple of wonderful cookbooks too?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No I'm on Long Island, the chefs in the Hamptons are the ones I know outside their books. I didn't mean to "correct" you, Anna is very private but I figure the country of one's birth is sort of important to get right Nothing against Denmark in the least though!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sara Lee Chase, is she a caterer too? My other favorite from around here is Bert Greene, although he's long gone now. And Craig Claiborne, I found a book by him in the local thrift shop that had his autograph, very cool. Martha Steward not so much. My best recipes come from the horse's mouth though, I've been so lucky to say the least. Not always full recipes, just enough to get the idea. My ears were always open ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      there is a cookbook from Denmark listed elsewhere on the Chowhound site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. I have a half package of bacon in the fridge that is just begging me to make Pasta Carbonara (which reheats beautifully). Alas, I have other leftovers to finish before I can make a new dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And THAT is how you don't waste food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wait a minute. You should never have left over pasta! Or so the al dente fans tell us. Worse yet, you can't reheat carbonara without cooking the egg! But then you are using bacon, not guanciale, so we shouldn't expect you to follow all the rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However since I don't have a drop of Italian in me, I will happily eat cold carbonara, or add some extra egg, and turn it into a pasta fritata. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had a pound and a half of gorgeous lobster meat left from Christmas Eve and was planning to make a Lobster Pot Pie with it Monday or Tuesday. But when I saw how many leftovers I had from the weekend, I popped it back in the freezer and will make next week or the week after. You have to constantly keep on top of those denizens of the deep lurking in the back of the fridge. Imagine if I only discovered it today!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It helps to keep a menu list for the entire week after doing your weekly inventory. To me it's like a game though, I look forward to mix and matching!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      leftover lobster?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      oh I hate you. (smirk)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I've been fighting this battle for awhile, and I think I've gotten quite a bit better. I still have a way to go though. If anyone has any tips for excess herbs, please pass them on! I'm worst with restaurant leftovers, especially since I usually receive a giant portion, and it NEVER seems to heat up well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Meal planning: make sure you plan in some flexibility. I began to painstakingly plan out every meal of everyday of the week (even breakfast) only to realize that things can change. Sometimes I end up going out, or having people over, or I just don't want the thing I planned to eat. Now, I try to build this into my schedule. Having some meals you can move around a bit, or drop entirely, is useful. Maybe this isn't such a big deal for people with big families and more fixed schedules, but it works for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Buy quality. I'm much less likely to waste when I know I've spent quite a bit on an item.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -I never used to waste herbs when I had an herb garden. I don't have quite enough sunlight to do this now, but it's probably an option for others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -If you want to save food for a rainy day, try frozen, dried, or canned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Realize it's an uphill battle. We live in a culture that treats items as disposable that really shouldn't be disposable. I've been working on this for awhile, and while I'm great in some areas (I never buy clothes from "fast fashion" places like H&M anymore), I'm still not awesome in others (iPhone apps I use once, too big restaurant meals where I never eat the leftovers, using far more plastic than I should, etc.). Just keep working! Doing a little better is better than doing the same as always!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As far as excess herbs, many people suggest chopping them up and freezing them in a little water or broth in an ice cube tray. I prefer to just put them dry in a ziplock. When I buy parsley or cilantro, I use what I need and immediately chop up and freeze the rest. I know if I don't do it right then, I'll never get around to it and it will go bad. For thyme I strip the leaves and freeze and I usually freeze rosemary right on the branch. Don't bother with basil--it's really gross when it defrosts. Make some pesto and freeze it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I sort of disagree about basil - when it's cheap I freeze bunches in ziplocs and when frozen I crush it in the bag. Then I add a shake of frozen bits (minus the stalks which remain whole) into my salad or pasta. Of course it has none of the texture of fresh whole leaves, but the taste is pretty much the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for this! I'll definitely have to try this with the cilantro I used on my chili tonight. I'm such a basil freak that I usually go through it before it goes off. I like to make pistou (without pine nuts) so I can throw it into soup or spread it onto bread or sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the tip - I am just off to the open-air market, so now I won't feel guilty about buying a few bunches of fresh herbs just for me. I *need* fresh coriander like some people *need* chocolate. (Of course, I also enjoy a nice piece of chocolate now and then.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I read about half of the responses then skipped to the bottom. I am in the same boat. I am a single guy who has a 206 mile daily commute, so better than 12 hours a day are dedicated to work. I love food, and cooking, but I find it hard to cook for just myself. This year I have tossed pounds of potatoes and tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro , green onions, and radishes by the bunch. Celery, ears of corn, lots of squash, and more. Being single can be very difficult when it comes to food purchases. The single serving can be so much more than bulk at times that it is actually less expensive to buy the bulk, use only what you need, and toss the rest. I have a hard time making single servings of most meals, so I eat a lot of leftovers when I do actually cook. A batch of chicken fajitas will last me a couple of meals, or more. When I make potato salad I end up with upwards of 20# in a 13qt bowl. I save some for me, and give the rest away to grateful neighbors. Later on they will reciprocate by sending over homemade items from their kitchen. I have been thinking of maybe starting a group for folks like me where we can get together for meals, and sharing the food. I find that I will have time to cook , if I am cooking for someone else. I made 6 totally scratch pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, and 7 for Christmas this year to take to friend's homes. BTW a 15# pumpkin will yield 7- 9" pies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a grocery store in town, but they don't have everything that I am looking for at times The next closest cities are 40, and 60 miles from me. I do most of my shopping on the weekend when I run into Las Vegas as the prices are so much less expensive. When you consider what I have tossed, the price isn't that good on some items. What I have done lately is to just really cut back on how much I buy at the market. I tell myself "You didn't use what you had bought earlier, so don't buy more." or "You didn't have time to cook that meal last week, what makes you think you will have time this week?". I have a lot of meals that I want to cook, but end up not because I get home late,too tired, or I am gone all weekend trying to have something resembling a social life in Las Vegas. I may be buying too much of some items because I know I cannot just run into town for this during the week due the distance involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lunch today was a Florida avocado that I had forgot about made into guacamole, and the tail end of a bag of tortilla chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lunch at work a lot of days consists of just pears, oranges, apples, mangoes, avocados, or bananas. One coworker thought I was vegetarian. I told him that I was not a vegitarian, but that I was a vagitarian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Old bananas get frozen , or get used for banana bread. Most everything else gets tossed into the compost pile if it gets over ripe, or spoils. My meat intake has gone way down over the past couple of years, so little meat is wasted. I can buy a 40# case of boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.28-$1.50 a pound at times, and they will last a long time in the freezer. I am not too germaphobic so I have no problem trimming mold off bread ,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          trimming veggies of spoiled sections, and I have consumed countless weevils? that are too much trouble to sift out of the flour,and other dry goods. My folks lived through the Great Depression, and did the same. Could also be a reason why I rarely have any food illnesses, built up resistance maybe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have now learned to dry extra chili peppers , Roma tomatoes, and should do cilantro too. If I have extras of something that I know I won't use in time I give them to neighbors, if they can use them. It is tough to pass up 8# of oranges for $1, cilantro, green onions,and radishes for 4 for a $1, avocados for 5 for a $1 (although I have sold these for a profit at work), etc. I have also learned that during the summer months I cannot keep some items like potatoes long due to the heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Since my job has relocated to Utah I have had to revamp my grocery purchases, and it has taken some time to get readjusted to the monotony of the new commute. And to answer the question of why don't I move closer to work..............Southern Utah is not the place for a single guy to be. Socially repressed pretty well sums up S.UT for me. It was fine when I commuted into Las Vegas, as I had something to do every evening after work. Not so in Utah. I also have 2ac in a semi rural town that I actually feel like a part of a community as opposed to just being a resident. Hopefully 2012 will be better for me , as I am looking to start another business that I can run from where I live , and still be just an hour away from Las Vegas for fun. Until then I just need to realize that I cannot cook everything that I want to, and put the item back on the shelf. It is somewhat ironic that I , a guy who abhors waste is so wasteful at times. I guess I can look at it this way, I have some really nice compost going in the pile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Almost afraid to ask-what's a vagitarian? Is it what I think it might be?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            BTW, if it's not too personal, what do you do that makes your commute so long? That has to be rough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am a tool maker by trade, although I can, and have done , several other things such as; foundry work, electrical, plumbing, plant maintenance at Jelly Belly, gunsmith, and a few more. I moved out of CA as it was getting too restrictive for me, and my hobbies. Unfortunately over the past 6 years my job(s) here have been a rollercoaster. There is not that much in the way of machine shop type jobs in Las Vegas, so I had to follow the paycheck when they relocated the company after the bankruptcy. The local shops were offering wages I was making in the 90's which didn't help either. So, my plan this year is to start another business of my own which I can operate from where I live. I have close to 60 ideas for different products, and services that I have come up with over the years. The first one that I want to do is an automotive tool I developed years ago, but never pursued due to various reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As to vagitarian....................Google is your friend =P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, good luck with your new business! That commute sounded like a bitch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BTW, I didn't think to google vagatarian because I didn't think what I was thinking would be on the internet, but of course, it was. After reading dratlover's response below I thought I just had a dirty mind, but after looking it up, I was right.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Guess that makes me a...well, you can figure it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I hope you have a prosperous and successful 2012, BGD.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think a vagitarian might be a combo of vegetarian and vagabond.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BIGGUNDOCTOR. if you are serious about stopping food waste, please go back & finish reading ALL the postings. There is an absolute gold mine here & if you start applying some of the suggestions, you will immediately begin to see improvement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In a span of 2 short weeks of following these replies, taking notes, & deciding to stop the bad habit of wasting food once & for all, I have cut my food bill in half & still managed to have 5 guests over for a meal. Was it a fluke? NO. Will I continue in this endeavor? ABSOLUTELY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here is my 2 cents worth (yeah, I have some money leftover).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It all starts & stops with YOU.....not your marital status, age, proximity to a store, budget or your work status (employed or retired). Those are all external to you & don't mean a hill of beans. It"s you you you. In other words. Only you can stop food from being wasted. Don't point the finger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That is just a nasty little habit that makes you feel better about wasting all that food...a very overused word, for sure. Feed yourself instead of the compost pile. Just stay away from there!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Start with a clean slate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Become intimate friends with your pantry & fridge. They contain a very good portion of your paycheck, so know what is in there at all times. Keep both clean & organized. In fact, get right in there & clean both out before making another trip to the grocer. No use bringing more stuff home when you don't even know what you have in there to begin with. And I bet you most of that stuff in there is bad. So, clean things up. OK, you have our permission to make a quick run to the compost pile, but don't you dare make that a habit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Store properly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Know how to store what you bring home...you have a different mind set now...you've chosen wisely so learn how to store wisely (again....a lot of great ideas provided here)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Be mindful when shopping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you pick up an item...make sure you know exactly what it will be used for when you get home. And I mean each individual item, don't be vague in your thoughts & say, "well, maybe I could use the other 4 of these for "blah blah." Nope, too vague. Commit yourself to every single item that goes into that basket. Don't kid yourself about it's in season, it's on special, it's a good buy or whatever. Forget about all that & just concentrate on what you will be doing with that item once it gets home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Simple stuff to get you started. If you do what I suggested, you too will have money left over.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good luck

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I actually started my saving this weekend. I didn't pick up any groceries at all while I was in Las Vegas for my long New Years weekend. Thought about it, and just said nope. I don't eat a whole lot anyway as it is. Most days I only eat lunch, or just snack throughout the day. My problem has been that I want to cook a nice meal, but between the commute, and usually being tired when I get home late, I just don't feel like cooking. Tonight I actually warmed up some soup a friend gave me, and lunch was leftover Chinese from yesterday. Woo Hoo...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This week I will need to see what will get added to the compost pile, and do an inventory of what I have left in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So glad you are making an effort to start looking at food in a different way...I know how it is wanting to cook a nice meal, but just plan for it. Wait until you know you will have the time to cook, make your list & then cook. As for other times, just make do with what you have on hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A couple of words that help me a lot, "be mindful of what you have on hand & what you need to buy....stick to that...don't splurge until you want to make a full meal."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Good luck...see it was pretty easy to get by with what you had on hand in the house to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The other option is that I end up eating out more. Lunch today was a master burrito from Alberto's. These 2#-2.5# monsters are pretty filling, and usually fill me up for the whole day. At $5.89 with a drink it isn't that expensive considering that it counts as lunch, and dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ok BGD,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Don't laugh at my first question. Do you have water on your two acres? Is there a library near you? If so you may consider borrowing audio books to listen to during your commutes. Assuming that you have a CD player in your vehicle. A truck? I'm currently listening to one of the "Clan Of The Cavebear" series. Next I have "The Sun Also Rises" by Hemingway. If you don't have time for reading then you can listen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you have water and two acres and you are single then you can make a good living by growing various kinds of vegetable and fruits. You can even grow plants to sell for landscaping the new homes that are being built in and near to Las Vegas. Those flower plants are very profitable. The first things that you need are the land and water.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have a stepson that lives in Las Vegas so I have seen the need for landscaping plants. His friend has opened a restaurant and he may be interested in buying some vine ripened heirloom tomatoes from you. Which sure beat those commercial tomatoes. I do this on my .6 acres as a hobby and suppliment my S.S. nicely. Just a friendly suggestion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have 2ac of sand, and gravel. Gardens can be done, but it takes tons of work to get anything to grow, not like back home. Raised beds are one way to do it. I do have plans for a garden in the future where the old horse corral was. We have a CSA in town, and a high school farm down by the river where they have better soil conditions. For a cash crop I would think pomegranates first , as they grow like weeds here, and we have the pomegranate festival every year. They would also double as shade, which is in short supply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I haven't seen much building at all in LV since the crash-LV leads the nation in foreclosures. Out where I am home prices have dropped 50% =( Out here we have to deal with extreme heat, and high winds that act like a convection oven. It is at least 100 everyday from June to August with a week tossed in with 110-115 everyday. Lows at night will be 85, and come at 3am. 100 again by 9am. Humidity will dip as low as 1%, and is usually single digits during the non monsoon months. Any type of garden will need constant attention to keep it growing instead of wilting away in a day. Shade, wind protection, and lots of precious water are all needed for many crops to survive. The local Ag extension is a great help too. Back home in N.CA everything grew big, and easy compared to here. There are a few restaurants that are tapping into CSAs like we have here for produce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes I have a library down the road, but I am usually listening to music, talk radio, and the occasional CD. I use my commute to think about my inventions, and the business that I want to start. it is my down time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I used to live in Riverside in So. Cal. so forget the tomatoe's. You have a CSA? So it must be doable. Grapes will grow in some god awful soil. So will Japanese Persimmons. A fellow that I knew in Riverside sold every one that he could grow. People came from miles around hoping to get some of his Japanese Persimmons. Different than American Persimmons. Like eating candy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I remember, almost constant watering. Oh, my soaring water bill! In small amounts it was less expensive to buy from the supermarket. BUT, it can be done with DRIP IRRIGATION! Boysenberries will produce well. Maybe Blackberries also.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The heat season in Riverside runs from mid-April to lete/early Nov. I know Calif. The state average rainfall is approx. 8 inches average. Last year in Ohio we had 64 inches in my area. (Cleveland) plus 54 inches of snow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love to grow things so I'd allow some chickens to freerange (fertilizer) and I'd try it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The CD books was only an idea. I'm currently listening to "The Sun Also Rises" by Hemingway. Lots of other kinds of books and even college courses are available..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ahh dhm - blackberries can be REALLY tetchy about how much water and when. ours are wild near a creek bottom, some years we get ridiculous amounts, last year? nothing (ok a hand full of sad things this size of unpopped corn).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Folks, can we ask that you continue the gardening subthread over on the gardening board? It's useful info, but off-topic here.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. I spent years cooking just for myself so I am very good at using up what I have to prevent waste. May I suggest thinking of the food as "components"? When cooking mushrooms (bought on special-too many to eat in one night), cook all of them at the same time and then tuck the extras into the fridge for a mushroom omelet tomorrow. Chicken breast on special but only in the family size pack-no problem! Roast all of them with salt and pepper and freeze the extras in individual portions for quick meals like warm chicken sandwiches or green chili chicken stew (easy way to use up that green salsa jar you opened on the weekend). I just shop from my fridge and if I am stumped I use an ingredients search engine to help come up with ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Just out of curiosity, was this thread brought about by the appearance of the documentary "dive" that has recently appeared on the netflix streaming service? Just curious, the timing seems coincidental.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: twyst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think it's the economy in general, people are becoming more aware of wasting money. So of course a documentary on that topic will be well received too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: twyst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, I did not start this thread due to any documentary, don't know anything about netflix streaming. Just was trying to figure why my grocery bill was getting higher & higher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Once I started looking in my fridge & pantry, I knew I was a complete slob about wasting food. Then I started observing other places where food was present, from grocery stores, restaurants & holiday gatherings this year & was appalled at what was going on. I will never go back to wasting all that food again, thanks to all the good advice found on this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. My biggest struggle is not knowing if i am cooking for three or five. I used to just alwyas assume that everyone will be eating the meal i prepared, even if it was later that night... but too many covered dishes wound up eiter in the trash or frozen as a tv dinner. I decided that since the two other people in my house are adults, that the can fend for themselves for dinner. Now i know exactly how much to cook every night. I am a huge proponent of weekly menus too. They have saved me LOTS of money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            yes that's a problem with teens and 20s living at home or not living at home but angling for a free dinner maybe maybe not. Mine just drop in and want dinner or rifle through my fridge when I'm out and I come home to find the eggs gone, bread finished or out of milk grrr. Other times they will call last minute to see what I'm making just in case ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Generally I am on my own, I buy single fruits and veggies but I also have trouble with celery, melons, cabbage and salad greens. Salad leaves or premade salads are always too big for 1 person so I find I don't tend to use a good variety of vegetables or fruits because I end up throwing things out and I just don't want cantelope 4 days running. I do have lots of tupperware and freeze sauces and stews in smaller containers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I suppose one answer is to share cooking chores with friends or neighbors or invite people who reciprocate so that you can vary your diet a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nice self-justification for not eating fruits and veggies. Canteloupe and lots of fruit can be frozen. Nice as a cool snack or in a smoothie. Buy heads, not bags of lettuce. it lasts longer, especially if you get it from a farmers market.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                not self justification I just tend to buy single or 2 apples, bananas, oranges, peaches etc. I can't get through a box of mandarins alone before they go bad though it is possible to buy melons cut up but that's expensive. Grape bunches are too much for one person especially as I am at work or might go out some nights in between purchasing my groceries. Like I said I try to cook for a neighbor and her husband once a week then they have me over at their house - it means we can buy a joint of meat without waste or larger amounts of produce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I discovered that heads of iceberg lettuce and cabbage last longer if you take the leaves of one by one rather than slicing into or prying apart the head. No discolored cut edges, and the head stays crisper longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Thought ya'll might find the cookbook described in this article to be helpful on this topic -- sounds like a great read, and I think its message of simplifying cooking is one that everyone can get behind . . .



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Listen up people, go immediately to the website bebevonbernstein mentioned...wonderful wonderful. Thanks so much for posting. Here it is so you won't have to go back up & find it.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I just faced a major financial set back so buying more food was a challenge. I ended up eating what I had on hand and buying food only when necessary. I used leftover meat from dinner over leftover rice and a fried egg for breakfast. Friday night pizza w/ leftover veggies, cheese and chicken or lunch meats. Lots of things sauteed is great on pasta. I doctor up campbell's soups. I freeze what I can, bring perishable foods to share at lunch or give to friends (friends are on budgets too) periodically donate non perishable goods I don't eat to the break room kitchen. If I get food from a restaurant, I get enough for a couple of nights or lunches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Funny I was thinking about this and thought of something that sounds counter-intuitive... eat less at dinner.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dont have a second helping. Instead, pack it up and eat the second smaller portion for lunch the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Wow. Thank you for starting this thread cstout. I had the chance to read over all posts throughout the day and was so inspired I decided enough is enough! We too throw out lot of food. Many of the reasons why have been stated amongst others on here. In fact, I've know that a huge package of brussel sprouts in my fridge were headed for the garbage for few days now and I just lazily sat back, by passing them, letting them make their way to the back of the fridge. I buy the large Costco size at Costco and usually only eat 1/2 the bag throwing the rest in the garbage. And I do this about once every 3 months. Why??? I decided to fry 80% of them up tonight with some onion, garlic and a little orange juice to steam and they were wonderful. I steamed the rest and froze them to have with lunches later. I then made a list of everything in the fridge that was close to it's prime and put a date beside when they should be used. I then made a quick "meal ideas" list right beside just to give me an idea of what we can eat and make. Hubby loved this idea. We were doing something similar to this just before we moved to our new house. My motivation was I didn't want to haul a bunch of jars let alone perishables in the move. Well, unless we plan on moving every 3 months, I think we'd better get on board of the "waste not" train and rethink how we shop and cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I love, love, love the idea of making stocks (D'uh, why am i NOT doing this?!), I love the idea of making trip-around-the-fridge soups (like my Dad used to) a couple of times a month. Freezing unused veggies. Not buying until the fridge is relatively cleaned out or freezer for that matter. This should help with the grocery bill or at least give us the opportunity to by smarter food. There's a huge Farmer's market close to where we live. We have to hit the place Saturday, early, to get ahead of the crowds. We NEED be going there. We NEED to start buying local. And using food to it's full extent we can afford this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: livetocook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      livetocook, that makes my heart very happy to hear that you are sincerely making an effort on cutting down the food bill. Wait until you start seeing that bill decreasing, then you will be very excited & be motivated to try even harder to slim it down. I guarantee you won't be sacrificing a single thing, Keep a hawk eye on those groceries coming in & what is actually being consumed each week. You will be able to find that you really don't need to buy that much at one time. It will be there the next week.....trust me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It takes diligence, perserverance & creativity to make it all work out...but you can do it!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I have always frozen individual portions of leftovers. When our kids were young an appreciated family dinner was "Leftover Night" when all of these came out of the freezer to be reheated and make a buffet from which everyone chose his favorites. Horse-trading ensued, eg "I'll split my meatloaf with you if I can have half of your baked beans...Okay, you can have the shrimp but then I get the apple pie".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We did the very same thing growing up. It still happens when we're all together. There was a mini-race to get up first the day after Thanksgiving to lay claim to your fav leftover (for breakfast).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          About once every other week, we have a "CORN" Clean Out Refrigerator Night

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          whatever's edible is what's for dinner... generally leftovers from the week, half a hoagie from lunch, a serving of pasta, one pork chop... it saves me from cooking that night and nothing goes to waste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cgarner, We love the "CORN" acronym. Now we have a name for the dinners that have fourteen plastic containers open on the island in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tonight's dinner was a half pound of shavings from my birthday rib roast, lightly heated with a cup of sliced mushrooms that needed to go, and a couple of handfuls of the leftover Yorkshire pudding, sliced and transformed into dumpling noodles, all mixed into the beef juices and a little cornstarch to thicken the gravy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It was totally yummy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My friend is constantly pushing leftovers on me, as his family doesn't eat leftovers. There are some things that I actually like better the next day , cold fried chicken is one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh my goodness, your friend doesn't want to eat leftover fried chicken? You know I wish someone would post and explain this disinclination to never eat leftovers! With Mr. Sueatmo it is a fear of eating spoiled food. Is that the story for everyone?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We had a friend who wouldn't eat leftovers, why I don't know. But it was a big thing with him. He also walked out of IHOP once because they put powdered sugar on his french toast in front of him, and it wasn't that he didn't eat sugar, he said he was embarrassed...I always assumed he had some kind of food eating disorder. But that's me talking, the queen of using up lefotvers. Oh yeah, another time he freaked out because they brought his steak out on a sizzle platter and the sound upset him. I think he got up and left that time too. Are all these things connected, I don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some people are just really funny with their food. I had a coworker that could not have different food items touching on the plate, so she had them bring some items on separate plates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As to my friend, he eats leftovers, but his wife, and 4 kids rarely do. Some of them also have an aversion to thrift store clothes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your post reminded me of some of my relatives. The wife of a cousin has some odd ideas about food and seems to have passed them on to her son although her recently married daughter seems to have grown out of it. I don't really remember any specifics, but suffice it to say they would always show up at family gatherings only after the meal had been served and cleared away. Other relatives seem to be afraid of black pepper or any seasoning at all with the exception of minor amounts of salt. I believe these are learned behaviors from parents that get passed down. I have one SIL who has a minor case of being afraid of seasoning or anything 'weird'. She recently told me that she has never cooked with fresh garlic, as in a clove of garlic. I asked her how she makes spaghetti sauce, chili, soup or any of a myriad things in which we use garlic and her reply was the spaghetti sauce comes out of a jar, she does not make soup, and garlic powder. Unbelievable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have known people who expressed their fear of spicy or strong tasting food. I am thinking of one person who seemed to be controlling about it. I can't imagine the mental state of someone who was embarrassed to have powdered sugar on something or who became upset about the sound of a sizzling steak. Not to be negative; but I can't imagine what causes that sort of discomfort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not eating perfectly good leftovers is another thing I don't understand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I know, the weird thing is he was one of the coolest people we knew, but not when it came to food. Which is why we remained friends despite it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          John E. Your post reminded me of my wife. She eats in a rather strange way. For example she will not eat anything that lives in, on or near water. Thus no kind of fish or any kind of seafood. Plus, no lamb. For meat it is basically only beef or pork. I grow several varieties of garlic. She refuses to use fresh garlic. The extent of her garlic use is garlic salt. She will not use any of the other spices that are in our cupboard. If I cook and use spices, she will not eat my cooking. You can guess how often I cook. I think that it comes from her West Virginia mother who also did not use spices nor garlic.. Can you imagine Hungarian Goulash with out any garlic? It's very bland. Which she prefers. BLAND foods. My wife carries that over into bland living also. If anything is exciting she refuses to participate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            BLAND foods, oh my, if I had to give up garlic, onion & hot pepper, I just don't know how I could take that. I am sure she has a lot of other good traits, so just sneak in the kitchen sometime & fix a real throw down of spicy food just for you. Tell her that her cooking is wonderful, but you just gotta jazz it up once in a while, no offense to her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You must really love her, dhmill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    RE: "Corn" - I've called it in the past the Kitchen Sink Salad.....take the leftovers & put it on a salad. Good stuff!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As for the spices...growing up my father HATED spices, so my mom was forbidden to use them.....once I discovered cooking the thought I was "weird." Go figure!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I think one very easy way to cut back on waste is to make sure that if possible you keep the sauces and what ever they are topping separate. That way you can freeze and save a sauce and use it with something else. Also, many sauces keep better than the things they are topping, for instance pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. For those of you interested in learning more about this topic, I noticed that Food Network is actually doing quite a bit on the subject, including this special, which airs tomorrow night: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food-netwo....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for sharing that with us...should be very interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From the trailer: "We've trained a generation of consumers to demand perfection"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Posts have danced around the question of how we choose produce at the grocery. What happens to those bell peppers that we pass over because the shape is weird? The oranges that aren't orange enough?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They wind up in the deli department in salads?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, of course those weird veggies pop up in the deli department....at least they haven't let them rot someplace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I buy them! My local supermarket puts them in the mark down section and I enjoy them for very little money. I bought Meyer lemons at 59 cents a pound, orange and yellow bell peppers at the same price and potatoes for 39 cents a pound! I asked once why some of these items are marked down and I was told they are sometimes not the standard size (too small or odd shaped) or they are normally sold in a standard sized container and the container broke so they repackage into a new container at a reduced price. Silly? Yes. But my gain!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I assume the vast majority of weird-looking-but-edible produce gets removed before it even hits the supermarkets, no? I've heard farmers complaining about how much they have to throw away due to supermarkets demanding uniform, good-looking produce. Of course the supermarkets then throw up their hands and say it's not their fault, it's what their customers demand. Point is, I think there's a lot of edible stuff that gets culled before it even leaves the farm. I know a LOT of people who would happily buy cheap, funny-looking produce over pricier, good-looking produce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: montrealeater

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There is a store near me that takes produce like that. They also buy from farms that don't have a large enough quantity to sell to supermarkets. Sometimes it is end of season produce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Last week 3 lb bags of pears were 10 cents. Other 10 cent deals in the past include cucumbers at 10 cents each, a bunch of fresh organic fennel and cherry tomatoes for 10 cents a lb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. OK so to start, I threw out some freezer-burnt things from my freezer last weekend....I wasn't going to eat them so why take up space....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So far, I've eaten a lot of my leftovers this week and have frozen others for future use. This month is a tough time at work, but managed to make a GREAT stir fry this week & use up leftover veggies so as not to toss them....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Still want that new freezer tho....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. First week behind us and we went to the grocery store today (we shop weekly), aaand... down $20 from a normal bill. Whoo Hoo. Fridge is clean out nicely so, now to see if we can make it the week without having to stop somewhere for extra reserves. Really, really excited about that savings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: livetocook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              $20 dollar savings.....oh I am so happy for you...it really is exciting to start cutting down the food bill. It almost becomes a game to see how / where more money can be saved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have started another post to see what folks make instead of purchasing...amazing what all can be made in your own kitchen. That is another avenue to follow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just keep that fridge clean...you will feel so much better when you look in there & can actually see what you have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also, watch those bottles of stuff....big money grabbers. Anyway, I am rehasing what has already been said....congratulations....keep it up, by all means!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Have you watched the competition couponing show? They cut a $200 bill down to 20! However there is downside (or two) - nearly all the items are shelf stable processed foods. No coupons on produce and fresh meat. And who needs 200 tubes of toothpaste?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, I don't find many coupons that I can use..they are definitely for packaged goods & I hate it when it is for "buy 2 & save 50 cents" or some stupid thing like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Those "meal deal" coupons are bummers too..buy some expensive cut of meat, get 5 cheap generic brands of junk food that did not add up to any significant savings...just gotta think these little schemes thorough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am the same way with coupons. I rarely use them b/c they are usually for something I just don't use or a brand I really don't like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, the savings was so great to see. I think it was mostly b/c I've discovered a lot in our fridge freezer that we can eat. Things get buried so easily in there. We did have to sneak out today for cilantro (I forgot to buy for taco salad tonight) and ended up buying a few more things but, it was silly cheap and a nice walk in this ridiculously warm weather we are experiencing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I would also suggest opening up yourself on two fronts: try different combinations (am eating peanut butter and sriracha on spelt toast right now -- delicious! -- because I wanted to use up the peanut butter) and realize that almost *any*thing can be made into a salad. I have become very astute at making salads, and I put pretty much everything in them but the kitchen sink (though they always include cheese and some sort of nut, be it walnut, pepita, or sunflower seed -- something for crunch). I also do the same with couscous or quiinoa -- you can mix pretty much anything in, and add vinaigrette, and it's pretty damn tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Other thoughts: I tend to find it much easier to use things up when I buy less -- it's so much less overwhelming to have a half-empty refrigerator. As a single person, I also "trade" leftovers with various friends -- not on any sort of organized basis, but I've found that friends love having homemade soup, and I love getting pork tenderloin that I wouldn't necessarily cook for just me. I picked up a bag of basmati rice from a friend this morning who wasn't going to use it, because she doesn't eat rice (she'd bought it for a dinner party and had an entire bag left over).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My New Years resolution was to quit wasting food. I love to cook, my husband shops, and its not always easy matching the refrigerator contents to my cookbooks. So - I bought a subscription to "eat your books". Broccoli languishing in the vegi drawer - I can see all the recipes that use broccoli, and what other ingredients they require. Easy peasy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also have a new rule about labeling leftovers. I'm using that blue painter's tape (comes off easily), and a sharpie - date and name. Hopefully these changes will last, but I do already see more leftovers being eaten than being tossed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lazy_lurker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Blue painter's tape....does it stay on when you put things in the freezer? I have been using freezer tape to label things, but find it is pricey. Will switch to the painter tape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I keep skirting around getting that subscription to "Eat Your Books"...but I too have the same problem with wondering what to do with that bunch of "whatever". Can always go in a stir fry if no ideas pop up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am determined to keep saving on my food bill, it is liberating not to be feeling bad about all that stuff just rotting in the fridge...don't need that in my life anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Regular masking tape works well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: suzysue2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Duh, thanks for the idea of regular masking tape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've not had a problem with painter's tape coming off the glass. I use the painters tape instead of regular because it also comes off pretty easily. also I had extra rolls hanging around and it was easy to see its bright blue color.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can also have a free account with eat your books - it limits you on the number of books but I think you can play with this by removing and adding. I got it for one year to see if it helps. And for me, it does help. I'm big into carrots these days, and boy are there a lot of ways to use carrots!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When I was laid off in So. Calif. I had a very limited income. Being single I got my food bill down to $10.00 or less per week. Cereal for breakfast. And only supper for my other meal. A 10 pound bag of whole chicken legs was $3.00. One broiled chicken leg for supper and a fresh salad. Absolutly no leftovers whatsoever! Next night was spagetti night. Meatless spagetti but with fresh mushrooms, a chopped up fresh tomato in the cheap canned tomato sauce and a fresh salad. No leftovers! Next night, a broiled chicken leg again. Dry cereal for a snack while watching TV. We just don't need nearly as much food as we buy.The very most surprising thing? I had to go to the thrift store and buy new clothing. I had lost 25 lbs. that summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dhmill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Laid off...how long ago was that dhmill?? Yeah, everybody goes on those expensive diets where you have to buy this & that....you can lose weight no matter what if you just don't have it to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Being out of work makes a person look around & realize how fast they can do without a lot of things...thanks for sharing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I just found this interesting menu -- appetizers through dessert -- that uses all of those food bits that often get overlooked as "waste." Each dish builds off of a common list of ingredients. The menu includes:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Crostini with Mushroom-Stem Duxelles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Braised Greens and Cauliflower Ribs with Piave-Bacon Breadcrumbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pasta Scraps with Burrata, Sausage, Mushrooms and Fennel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Candied-Orange Shortbread

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sounds heavenly!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Pre-plan menus.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Don't buy a week's worth of groceries at a time, if plans change, food will spoil.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Vitamix leftover fruit and vegetables into smoothies or soups

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. The single step that reduced food waste in this household most was learning to do weekly or half-weekly cooking plans, and make shopping lists based on the plan. The planning even helps rescue from impulse buys at the farmers' market or grocery, if I sat down and incorporated the unexpected items in the week's plan right away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Another big help was learning to cook up greens within the first day of arrival: they take up less room in the fridge, they stay usable longer, and it shortens prep time at the point that they get incorporated into a dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I've dramatically reduced my food waste, and my weight, by planning out a week's worth of meals, shopping and prepping on the weekend. Yesterday I made a big batch of vegetarian moussaka and prepped a bunch of vegetables for stir-frying through the week. I also cooked whole-wheat couscous to serve with the stir-fry. And, I washed raspberries and froze them for use in smoothies later. During the meal planning phase I looked at what I had on hand that I wanted to use up (the whole-wheat couscous, a bunch of carrots, canned chickpeas... the first and the last being things I'd stocked up on when they were on sale), chose recipes that would use those ingredients, and then only bought the things I needed to complete the recipes. The raspberries were a sale buy, but they're now safely in the freezer. I didn't need to buy snack food- when yogurt was on sale last week I put two containers in my fridge at work for snacking, and when I'm home I can "snack" on stuff I have anyways, like bread (straight out of the freezer) toasted with natural peanut butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I definitely don't do it all the time (I get too excited about new recipes), but every now and then planning your meals with the purposeful goal of using up some of the non-perishables you've collected over the past few weeks or months is really helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Planning a week's worth of meals & prepping all the ingredients is a good idea...thanks for posting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. As much as I despise adding to topics this long because they take a lot of time to load and when they get this big, usually people don't read the whole thing and add repetative info, i thought you ight be interested in this blog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Zero Waste Home


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mainly it has to do with packaging, using containers and such. However, there are some dining tips and one hit me as particularily useful ... keep things in Mason jars and don't buy something new until you finish the old jar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So, she has two pasta jars with two different types of pastas. Only when one jar is empty, will she buy more pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think you could apply that to stuff in the fridge as well. There are some interesting ideas on the site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just saw a clip somewhere (too lazy to look up) it was called something like the cheapest person in the world...maybe a TV series. Anyway he said when your toothpaste seems to be empty, cut the tube in half and there's another week's worth in there. Sharpen your razor blades on a match striker strip when they get dull. The best was he buys 2 ply toilet paper and divides it by hand into two rolls, at that point his wife appears and says it gets out of hand. I know how to be cheap but you'll never see me dividing a roll of toilet paper!! Anyway it's good to think outside the box for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                zerowastehome.com...thanks for sharing. I am finding there are all sorts of places to find ideas on how to stop wasting food & everything else. We just all need to become more aware & there are many people doing that & of course others who aren't informed, but I think every suggestion on this this post has helped me in some way. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. The best way not to waste food is to eat less. When the end product is obesity, the food is being wasted. I see so many refrigerators and pantries bursting with food and the occupants of the house are correspondingly roly poly. Even if the food is not being wasted by being left to spoil or thrown out, it's not socially responsible to buy so much and eat so much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As I was walking down into the basement a few minutes ago, I was thinking how great it is to have leftovers. As long as you freeze them in time and throw them into soup or stew/chili or whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think leftovers are great, what I'm talking about is over consumption of food. Then there are NO leftovers :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah but since I'm the cook, leftovers are one of my favorites! NO leftovers would be a sad world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Leftovers and over consumption of food are not necessarily related.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nor was I correlating them directly, I was trying to respond to coll's post to say that it's not the leftovers that are troubling, it's the over consumption of food and wastefulness of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Your post to which I replied didn't really say that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Seriously? Are you trying to make a point? 1) that you didn't bother to read the first post in the mini-thread (prob would take 30 sec.) 2) making a completely obvious statement in your follow up to a mini thread you didn't even bother to read....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I did read all of your posts but I misunderstood the post to which I first replied. You needed to use a comma instead of two sentences to make it one thought instead of two. Sorry about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Are you saying that your friends and relatives are not socially responsible? Or do you have access to the fridge and pantry of people who aren't your friends? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mostly friends and acquaintances. It always annoyed me that one girl I knew, who was morbidly obese told me she hardly eats and just gains weight. Her family had 2 refrigerators and a standalone freezer full of food. Crate sized box of frozen jalepeno poppers, hoagies, and that's not even including the stuff in their pantry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. I have some suggestions on reducing food wastage, the levels of which are scandalous in N America. I roast a chicken, put the bones in the freezer if I know I will not have time to make a stock the next day. The leftover meat is good in sandwiches and Asian salads (Vietnamese red cabbage salad with slices of chicken, or a Thai type salad with added chicken come to mind). I avoid buying food in bulk, and buy fresh as much as possible. I buy local and in season whenever possible (although hard in the deep freeze of January and February, so it takes getting used to and sometimes I am not so disciplined). My pantry has certain staples, from which I always will have a meal on hand. Other tips: parsley makes a good tea, believe it or not, and helps reduce water retention, so there goes my leftover parsley! oh, I love Chowhound! Where else can I read about vagitarians?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Alwayscookin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i have a bunch of parsley about to go to waste. How doyou make tea?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tea sounds interesting. I usually freeze my leftover fresh herbs for the near future.