Do you ever look in your pantry or refrigerator and think: “Where did that come from?” Then you look at the product and notice there is no way you can use that in a meal at your house; there is mold or it’s past its best-use-by date.
Proper meal planning, along with utilizing what’s in your house before it goes bad, is an important way to decrease food waste.
Did you know that, on average, each American is throwing away 20 pounds of food waste per month? An important way to decrease this would be by creating a meal plan for you and your family to follow. You can start with these four easy steps.
1. Long Live Leftovers. Leftovers are a great way to use foods in your fridge that otherwise would go to waste. Try to plan one meal per week that involves leftovers. Here’s an example: Take leftover chicken breast from dinner earlier this week, combine it with pasta from the fridge and sautéed zucchini and mushrooms that were on their last leg. This will be a quick and easy meal your whole family will enjoy. Or use leftover hotdog or hamburger buns in the cheese toast recipe below.
2. Freeze Forgotten Foods. Sometimes foods we fully intend on using can get pushed back in our fridge, and when we find them again, they’re one day from going in the trash. Instead of throwing them away, put them in the freezer. This can include things like bananas, berries, spinach and other greens. One great way to use these foods again is in a protein smoothie with our Hy-Vee Dietitian Pick of the Month, Performance Inspired Whey Protein.
3. Save Scraps. Every piece of our foods is something we can make use of. This can include potato peels, carrot and celery ends and even chicken bones. Potato peels can be turned into homemade potato chips that are fun for kids to make and eat. Combining vegetable scraps or chicken bones with water and herbs can create a fantastic vegetable broth that you can use to create soup for your family.
4. Group Meal Prep. Join one of the community Simple Fix freezer meal workshops at your Newton Hy-Vee and take advantage of limited food waste, cost savings and the convenience of a freezer full of quick and easy weekday meals. By purchasing the foods needed for recipes as a group, you avoid having leftover ingredients sitting in your refrigerator or pantry. Our freezer meal workshops are held monthly September-May. Contact your Newton Hy-Vee dietitian Emily at 641-792-7030 or email@example.com for more information.
Decreasing food waste can be a fun way for you and your family to get creative with what meals you make for dinner. Take inventory of your fridge every night to make sure you have the least amount of food waste you can. Leftovers are perfect ingredients for soups.