I think we frugal types just seeth with repressed something when we see good food thrown away, or the good ingredients used for the worst junk food. (Why do we buy french fries and potato chips when a potato is cheap and easy to cook?)
It is unGodly to waste the good things He gave us – farmland, water, nutrients. It’s sinful to keep food to ourselves when others need it. It’s ignorant to ask for food and then waste it because we don’t know how to cook it.
Here’s my suggested procedure for changing this, one household at a time, maybe one or two steps at a time. Don’t shock your family by jumping in with both feet!
Subscribe to some good blogs on the subject of frugality and food waste. Here are the ones I read:
Katy Wolk-Stanley’s “the nonconsumer advocate” at http:\\thenonconsumeradvocate.com. Katy is Mama to many of us in this endeavour.
Kristen at “The Frugal Girl” – http:\\www.thefrugalgirl.com. Kristen is a home-schooling, gifted artist and music teacher who runs the household on some strict Christian financial principles.
The Green family and their friends and community at “My Zero Waste”which is British: http:\\myzerowaste.com.
And my latest discovery, Jonathan Bloom et al at Wasted Food; http:\\www.wastedfood.com.
Second: Make a grocery list and stick to it! List the foods you know you will use, plan a menu, and try to buy only unprocessed food. If you don’t go up and down the aisles, you will avoid a lot of temptation. I buy produce first, then meat, then dairy. If I need baking products, then I get those last. I’m less likely to toss in chocolate chips or a jar of jam if the buggy is already full.
Buy large quantities of things you use – like meat – and divide the package into smaller freezer package. If you can get a good price on vegetables, then cook them right away and freeze. This is the part that takes a little more discipline, because you have to plan the day to include time to do it. Shop early, set aside an hour for putting things away and getting things into the freezer or storage.
I cook some things ahead, like poached chicken for chicken salad, get it made and put it in a covered glass dish.
Don’t eat out. At all. Get out of the coffee a day habit and make coffee at home and take it with you in a mug or thermos. Don’t buy bottled water or pop. Buy waterbottles for the family, filter the tap water or get a water cooler, refill the bottles.
If you don’t know how to cook something from scratch – dried beans, potato dishes, bread – then learn! There are tutorials on line, there are cooking classes, there are neighbours and relatives who will teach you. Kristen at the Frugal Girl has some really good illustrated blogs for baking.
When things are really tough, make sure you make a tight budget for food. I have to sometimes, and I estimate what I am willing to spend on each item on my list, so if I pick up an item, and it is too much, I don’t get it or substitute something cheaper. Write the estimated price next to the item on the list, and tally the bottom. Edit it if it’s too much before you go to the store. Be tough with yourself and the family on this if you have to. You’ll find that money is not oozing out through your fingers every time you get to the checkout.
Use your leftovers. Eat them for lunch, send them with the husband in his lunch (no more take-out lunches for him, either) or turn them into something else. If I have just one serving of three different things, I heat it and offer it around; whoever likes sausage takes that, whoever wants chicken gets that. You don’t all have to eat the same thing at the same meal.
Keep track of your food waste. Make a note to yourself of what you threw out instead of eating it, what went bad, what no one really liked. Some of us post our food waste at Kristen’s or Mrs. Green’s blog. It keeps us honest!
Finally, but not all, since there is always more – remember others. If you are not going to eat the can of bean soup, send it to the food bank. Buy extra for the poor, send it to a charity at a food drive. Convince your church to take up a monthly or ongoing collection for a local food pantry. Share your garden produce with a neighbour in need. Make a cash donation to a food charity or a poverty alleviation group. The poor will always be with us, and that’s our own fault.
Let me know how you are doing.