Here are some great tips for avoiding waste (and waist!) this holiday season, provided by Nan Jensen, Pinellas County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
Don’t shop from memory. Using a list helps you buy just what you need and prevents you from buying too much of some items and forgetting others.
Don’t shop hungry. It only increases the chances of making impulse purchases that you won’t be able to finish.
While buying in bulk
can save you money, it can cost you more if you purchase items in large quantities with a short use-by date. Buy those items in large quantities that you will be sure to use.
Buy perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables and meats in smaller quantities that still meet the needs of your family.
Like restaurants, follow the FIFO (First in, First Out) rule. Check your fridge on a regular basis and bring foods that will need to be disposed of soon to the front to encourage family members to eat it, or use as ingredients in the next meal you prepare. Do the same in your food pantry.
Make sure your refrigerator is set to the right temperature (40 degrees or below).
Store those holiday foods properly. Improper storage generates massive amounts of food waste. Make sure you have the right tools for the job such as airtight containers. Those containers that once held the margarine, cottage cheese or sour cream simply won’t go the distance.
Learn how to freeze your food for better storage. Most foods freeze well and can be wrapped in portions to prolong storage and make it easier to pop them in the microwave for a quick lunch. Vegetables freeze best if they are blanched first. Meat and fish can be frozen raw or cooked but should be wrapped tightly.
Plan your holiday meals well in advance. This way you can ensure you have the ingredients you need on hand and can reduce extra spending and waste.
The best way to eliminate food waste is to not create it in the first place. There are particular meals you prepare that seem to generate more waste than others. If the leftovers will be eaten the next day, that’s fine. If not, then you really need to look at portion control by reducing the amount you cook, making enough of course to satisfy those growling tummies.
Learn how to use leftovers in recipes. The rice left over from dinner one night can made into fried rice for another meal. Brown bananas can be sliced, sprinkled with honey, and frozen for a snack or can be baked into banana bread or muffins. Stale bread can be used for French toast, bread pudding or croutons for salad.