Do you end up throwing away a bunch of food every grocery cycle? Have trouble keeping up on all of that produce buried in your crisper? When you’re buying groceries, it feels like you’re not over-buying, so why can’t you use up all of that food?
Right after a trip to the market, a lot of us get excited about trying new recipes, cooking each meal for each day, creating an elaborate meal plan, etc. The problem is, the week wears on us and we begin to get less and less excited, we forget why we bought that fennel, and eating out looks way more appealing than sitting in a hot kitchen waiting for those veggies to roast themselves. Below are some tips that I find helpful in reducing my waste. I don’t claim to be an expert at utilizing everything in my kitchen before it expires. So don’t get down on yourself if you find this hard at first. Sticking to these things is hard, and I usually give advice to others because I need to reinforce it myself 😉
- LIST IT: As soon as you get back from shopping, create a dated list of all the fruits and veggies you just bought. Stick this to your fridge so that you have something easy to reference when looking for a snack or things to throw in a stirfry. Do it RIGHT when you get back; you’ll still have all that energy from grocery excitement. It’ll only take you seconds to do, but the longer you wait the harder it will be to get yourself to do it.
- PREP IT: If you have really busy weeks, choose your least busy day to do your grocery shopping. When you get home, chop up all your veggies/fruits and contain and label them. You can keep them fresh or flash fry/stir fry them first. The rest of the week will require very little time for cooking so you can enjoy your free time rather than plan meals when you’re starving and tired – and more likely to opt out for restaurant fare.
- STEW IT: If you find that your veggies and/or herbs are going bad despite your best efforts to use them in a timely fashion – make stew! Simply throw your veggies, soup base/broth, herbs/spices, a grain, and a protein in a large pot or crock pot. Lemon and Lime juice tastes great in most veggie soup, so use those if you see ’em going bad. Freeze whatever you don’t anticipate eating within the week.
- DATE IT: I tend to cook my weekly staples and then contain them in my fridge so I can throw together quick meals. However, if I do not label them with dates, I’m more likely to let them go to waste. Here are some common things that I keep readily available in my fridge for use throughout the week: tofu scramble, quinoa, rice, vermicelli noodles, kelp noodles, tempeh “bacon”, chickpea salad, coconut-chia seed “pudding”. Some of these things go bad faster than others, but a good rule of thumb is to smell it if a week has gone by…
- POST IT: After looking at recipes, print/write out your favorite ones and stick them to your fridge. A lot of times, we bookmark pages in cookbooks or food blogs and then forget about them 30 seconds later. If you’re forced to look at them every time you go for a quick bite, you’ll be more likely to make something new. In this way too, you’re less likely to get burnt out on cooking and resort to spending that rainy day cash on restaurant meals.
WHEN TO EAT OUT:
- CRAVE IT?: If you find yourself looking for somewhere to eat simply because it will be more convenient – stop yourself. Unless you know exactly what and where you want to eat, cook something for yourself. Likewise, if you’re with friends and you absolutely can’t come up with a restaurant to eat at, make dinner! The time it takes to decide on a place, walk/bike/bus/drive there, be seated, order, and wait for your food is probably longer than it would take you to cook for yourself or with a friend. Cravings should be indulged every once in a while, but limit them to a couple times a week.
- GET EXCITED AGAIN: Sometimes it feels like you just don’t have any energy left after a day of work or play to make a meal. That’s ok, take a minute to yourself; but don’t let that feeling dictate your decision. Start chopping some garlic or onions and see if you can get inspired to make something. If it just isn’t working, at least you’ve got yourself some prepped food for later! Sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself, but usually, once you start you won’t want to stop. It’s similar to getting on the mat in yoga. If you need a little extra push to cook on those super exhausting days, try some kapalabhati breathing. Maybe that energizing breath will get your creative cooking juices flowing!