So after some mental notes of how much food we were tossing, I decided to get serious and figure out how much we really eat each week. I knew I had to plan more wisely. If you're like me and love spontaneity, planning a menu is a stretch, but after seeing how much we were wasting it was big motivator to start planning our side dishes as well.
I plan our main dishes monthly but I leave the side dishes, fruits and veggies, till I prepare my grocery list. I base this off of what's on sale for the week. I simply add in a few veggies to each meal so that I know how much our family will eat. Typically I try to include 2 veggies at dinner and one at lunch. We typically have fruit at breakfast and snack and occasionally dinner or lunch. I relied heavily on food pyramid when making this adjustment. This site is a great one for helping you figure out how much your kiddos need each day.
After doing this simple step it has worked well cutting out a lot of our waste. But there are times when our menu changed and we didn't get to all those fruits and veggies so I try to freeze most of it or toss it in a recipe. For example if I'm making spaghetti or something else requiring tomato sauce I'll dice up the tomatoes that are about to go bad and throw them in the sauce. If I don't have time I'll wash them, cut out the bad spots and put them in the freezer.
Here are a few ways I commonly freeze a variety of produce:
- Spinach (cut up and placed in ziplock bags, make sure it's well dried)
- Green, Red or Yellow Peppers (Sliced and placed in 1 c. ziplock bags)
- Green onion (usually 1/2 c. placed in ziplock bags)
- Onions (Diced, sliced or minced in 1/2 c. bags)
- Carrots (Shredded or sliced, uncooked placed in 1 c. bags)
- Celery (Sliced or diced in 1 c. bags)
- Sweet potatoes (pureed and place in freezer containers or pour into ice cube trays, pop them out when frozen and place in a ziplock bag)
- Zucchini (Shredded and placed in 1 c. bags)
- Berries & peaches (Sliced peaches, most of the time I leave berries whole and place in a ziplock bag)
- Apples or Pears (Turn it into Applesauce or Pearsauce then freeze in containers)
There are a few exceptions that do not freeze well such as potatoes and cucumbers. Although Gayle figured out a way to freeze her own hashbrowns. She's such a genius!
My best piece of advice for you to reduce what goes to the trashcan is keep an eye out on what's in your fridge. Because we've all found that fuzzy piece of fruit that is almost unidentifiable.
For other great tips and ideas check out WFMW over at We are That Family.