I recently read that Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food each year. Yes, billion with a b. This translates to $160 billion or about $1500 per family each year. That is enough for a vacation! There are so many people who are hungry or food insecure (the government euphemism for not sure when or where their next meal is coming) and yet billions of food is getting sent to dumps. There are so many resources around, such as food cupboards and groups that collect unsold produce from farmer’s markets, and yet Americans are still tossing unused food in the garbage.
One of the main reasons I like to shop at the Rochester Public Market is because I can buy only the amount of produce I will be using each week and not pay extra because I am not buying in bulk. It really makes me angry when I go to Wegmans and if I want to buy a handful of broccoli crowns or mushrooms I have to pay a lot more per pound than if I buy the pre-wrapped family pack. There are only two of us! I get tired of eating cauliflower or zucchini for every meal just to use up a more economical package. I know a lot of people are good about freezing or canning vegetables to preserve them, but I am not one of them. I do freeze homemade pesto sauce, parmesan rinds and blueberries, but actually going through the process of parboiling or chopping veggies is just not something I do. So I have to stay on top of what I have in the fridge and make sure I plan meals accordingly. I honestly feel I have failed in some way if I have to throw away any food. When I know I have some items that need to be used I have a couple methods to avoid throwing them out. One is to google the ingredients and see what recipes pop up or to pull out one of my many cook books and look for an appropriate recipe. The other is to just wing it and start cooking and see what happens! I will pull everything out that I need to use up and set it on the counter. Then I start chopping and cooking, grabbing spices, condiments, sauces, etc., until I get something put together. I keep staples on hand, such as pasta, grains, garlic, onions, beans, broth, etc., that can be used to round out the meal. If I come up with something really yummy I have to tell my husband to enjoy it because I probably will not make the same dish twice!
Do you have any tips for how you avoid wasting food? Please share!
I am going on vacation and will not be posting a blog for the next two weeks. I hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy our longer days and warmer temperatures!
This week I am not going to post a traditional recipe because I want to encourage you to use up anything you have in your fridge or pantry that needs using. Below is a picture of a recent meal I threw together to use up a few remaining Brussel sprouts and mushrooms. I cooked up two portions of cheese raviolis and sautéed the vegetables with onions and garlic. Then I divided the raviolis between two oven safe dishes, poured the veggies on top and grated a little mozzarella over everything. I popped it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese and dinner was served alongside a green salad that used up the lettuce and tomatoes I had on hand.