My new mission is to get a grip on our food waste. It is quite ridiculous and I'm sure we fall right into those statistics I keep hearing that American's waste 25% of their food. Do the math and that equates to approximately $2000 of food this family is tossing out each year. In order to improve this wastefulness I first need to figure out what we are doing that causes it. I've narrowed it down to these major issues:
1) We don't eat leftovers at all. DH seriously HATES leftovers. I've traced this back to the fact that his mother was about the worst cook in the world and he said growing up it was bad enough eating her meals the first time around - he wasn't going to re-heat it! So, 20 years of living with that pretty much set him in his ways. When I was a stay-at-home-mom I would try to cut some recipes in half or make the whole casserole and freeze half, so that we were not wasting. But, now that the kids are grown and eat like grown ups halving a recipe usually wouldn't give us enough to eat, but a whole recipe is still usually too much, so it gets thrown out.
2) I tend to have many options of snacks in the house, which leads to many things being opened, and many things never getting finished before it expires. Chips, cookies, etc. The reason I have many choices is that when I don't I get tons of complaints from all 3 of them that "there is nothing to eat in this house". I realize that only having one or two choices doesn't work around here. That one or two choices might not sound good as a snack that particular time or for that particular person. So, I tend to load up (especially the first of the shopping week - there is lots to choose from) so I don't have to listen to all the complaints (DH being the loudest). DH really is constantly drinking something (usually iced tea or soda) or eating something in between meals. If I don't have several choices he's a total crab and he's crabby enough to deal with, without adding to the problem.
3) I am lazy. When there is something that could be used as a leftover for at least my lunches, I tend to not put it in containers right away and let it sit out until I or DD cleans up the dinner dishes and then it just gets thrown out. Or when I do get it put in the fridge I end up not taking it as lunch because it doesn't sound good.
4) DD is a big food waster! She is always throwing new foods into the grocery cart to try (which I think is great that she wants to try new things) but either ends up not really liking it much, or just doesn't finish it up before it goes bad. Her next huge area of waste is that she always thinks she wants to cook or bake something and I buy the ingredients and then of course she never makes it. Case in point - she makes a great macaroni salad and 3 weeks ago I bought an onion for it and diced ham - the onion is still sitting on the counter! The ham package we opened up and used quite a bit of it in omelets, but almost half of it went bad and I had to throw it out.
5) I have a real hard time following up to make sure things get frozen before they go bad (see #3). I could have put the rest of that diced ham in the freezer to pull out when she was ready to make the salad. I have about half of a 3 lb container of strawberries that is getting close to going bad, that DH (who has strawberry shortcake quite often for dessert) probably won't end up eating and instead of getting my butt in gear and either freezing them or making something with them, they will get thrown out.
So now, how to implement some changes to reduce food waste? I have to face the fact that eating leftovers is just not going to happen around here, so I'll need to start cutting my recipes down when I can or freezing part of the uncooked casserole for a later meal. Last night was just 3 of us for dinner and tuna casserole was on the menu. I got the ingredients put together and then scooped what I thought the 3 of us would eat into the casserole dish. It ended up being a little more than half, so I put the remaining in a plastic container and put it in the freezer and just cooked what we would eat. The portion in the freezer isn't really enough for 3 of us, but either I can make it sometime when I know it will just be DH and me or the next time I make a full tuna casserole, I will add another portion to what is already frozen and then the time after that it will be a full meal.
With dinners I tend to make alot of crescent rolls for the bread. They come in packs of 8 rolls- with it just the 3 of us last night, we would only eat 4 rolls (no one likes them re-heated), so instead of making them and throwing out half of them, I just didn't make them last night and we had some bread and butter. Nothing wasted.
The night before we had chili dogs and I pulled out a can of sliced pears for DH and DD to have on the side, She left 2 slices in the can. Normally while cleaning up I would have just thrown them out, but I grabbed a fork and ate them up! I'm just realizing I need to be hyper-vigilant of what food I am buying, what food we have and what state it is in on a daily basis in order to conquer this demon. Up today - slicing and freezing strawberries before they go bad!