The Clutter Free Kitchen: 9 Ways to Stop Wasting Food

The Clutter Free Kitchen: 9 Ways to Stop Wasting Food

1. The Use-it-Up Shelf

In my fridge I have a small shelf that has cheese that has been opened, butter sticks that are cut in half, salami that’s about to expire and salad toppings (shredded carrots, chopped celery, sliced cucumbers) that need to be eaten first. I have put a piece of tape on it that screams “Eat me first!”

The “Use It Up” shelf is a reminder that these things need to be eaten first so that we are not wasting food and money. Why eat cheese that will expire in three months when you have some that will expire in three weeks?

 2. Tag Your Pantry

Use blue painter’s tape to mark anything that is going to expire in the next month. Make sure those boxes and cans are towards the front, so you can see what needs to be used up when you’re thinking about what to make for dinner.

3. Meal Plan

And speaking of what to make for dinner, deciding early in the week what you’re going to cook for the rest of the week is one of the best ways to make sure you use all the fresh ingredients you have in your fridge.

4. Store Smart

  1. Don’t store bananas and apples together (apples quicken the ripening of bananas).
  2. Store fresh herbs in a jar of water in the fridge.
  3. Trim asparagus ends and keep them in the fridge in a glass of water (just like you would with a bouquet of flowers) to help them last longer.
  4. Keep citrus good longer by putting it in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to three weeks.

5. Prep Food as Soon as You Get Home

It’s easy to be optimistic in the store; “Of course we will use all of these vegetables. I will lovingly make salads and veggie soup every night for my family.” But when the dinner crunch is looming, it’s so much easier to grab a frozen pizza and vow to make the salad tomorrow night – until tomorrow night comes….

One of the best decisions we’ve made is to prep our shop. When we get home from the store (or that evening) I will go through and wash and spin salad, grate carrots, slice veggies, hard boil some eggs, and generally prep as much food as I can for the coming days. We are about six times as likely to eat fresh food when it is prepped.

6. You have permission to eat all the veggies/fruit in a day.

My friend, Jenn, told me that her kids didn’t want to eat the fruits and veggies that she bought because they were afraid she was saving them for special recipes. Then there would be soft carrots and limp celery and all that money went to waste. Now Jenn tells her kids “Eat all of the fruits and vegetables in a day, it’s fine!” That way she makes sure they are not going to waste.

We now get some of our fruits and veggies from (Use this link to get $10 off your first order! Our orders turn out to be about $15 every other week.) We love the freshness of all the produce we’ve received. (The reason they are imperfect is usually an unusual shape or size or too large of a crop.) We find ourselves eating up the fresh produce because we get to pick what’s in the box and know that we will use and love all of it.

7. Shop Your Pantry Before You Shop Your Store

We’ve all done it—arrived at the store and then thought to ourselves, “Do we have milk? I can’t remember. I’ll pick some up just in case…” And that “just in case” jug of milk is now the fifth gallon of milk in your fridge.

Before you go to the store, do a double take of what you actually have at your house so you’re not spending your valuable grocery dollars on stuff that you already have.

8. Use Your Freezer

I freeze just about everything except for salad. I am a freezer ninja! But here are a couple of ways I use my freezer that might not have occurred to you:

Soup Bag: I have a freezer bag that I use for any veggies that might be on this side of ripe: leftover salad fixings (sliced mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, etc.) and then when the bag is full, I sauté everything in there and use it for the base of a veggie soup. It comes out different every time, but it is consistently delicious.

Berry Bag: I love fresh berries and eat a lot of them (on my morning oatmeal, whenever we have company over and I make Instant Pot Cheesecake,) but sometimes even I can’t go through the several types I can buy in a week (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry). So when they are starting to get ripe I’ll throw them into a bag in the freezer and use them to make smoothies or defrost them and make Warm Berry Compote . Both super easy and a great way to not waste a single, beautiful berry.

9. Fall in Love with Cooking Again

As I was writing this article early Saturday morning and thinking through the “Use it Up” principle, I started to feel the guilt of the apples sitting in our fruit bowl that needed to be used up. Since Saturday morning is the only time during the week I cook an actual breakfast (the rest of the week is YOYO – You’re On Your Own) I decided it was now or never. I found a great recipe for Sautéed Apples and put those on top of wheat pancakes for our breakfast. It was a major win.

There is really no better feeling in the world than to cook something from ingredients you already have (and would go to waste if you didn’t use them.)

It’s easy to get into a rut of making excuses for not cooking, but if cooking is something you once enjoyed, it’s time to fall in love with cooking again. Here are some ways to do just that:

  1. Read great books about people who love to cook. I’m currently listening to Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters but have enjoyed so many other books by people who love to cook (professionally and for the ones they love). Here is a list of books I’ve loved to listen to while I cook:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver and Camille Kingsolver

The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love Paperback by Kristin Kimball

My Life in France Paperback by Julia Child? and Alex Prud’homme

  1. Watch real cooking shows. Yes- it’s fun to see people make life-sized gingerbread houses with fully animatronic witches made out of 4,000 gumdrops. But if you want to get inspired to get into the kitchen, watch real people making real food. I love America’s Test Kitchen (PBS) and always want to run into the kitchen and create after seeing any of their chefs doing their thing.

3. Cook with people you love. This is my best tip. Make an event out of it and get in the kitchen with good food and lovely people.

I would love to hear you ideas about how you’ve reduced food waste in your home.



The Husband Project Valentines Day Challenge- Day 1 A Treat for Him

The Husband Project Valentines Day Challenge- Day 1 A Treat for Him

Project #1

Heart vs. Stomach A Treat for Him

Today’s Project: Get a food treat for him that he’s not required to share with you or any other family member.

It’s time to think about food, glorious food.

My husband goes positively bonkers over a candy called Cherry Sours. As a leftover from his Florida childhood (from, what I can tell, was spent largely at Walt Disney World) he was first introduced to this candy and has great memories associated with them. The candy in question is a little red sugar ball – and my guy is desperately, inexplicably in love with mass quantities of them.

Which totally confounds me. They taste like the stuff your dental hygienist uses to rinse your mouth out after a particularly painful and thorough cleaning.

But, he loves ‘em, so I search for Cherry Sours whenever I can. They can be hard to locate, so when I do, I try to stock up, without Roger knowing.

When he’s having a rough time at work or I want to say congratulations for a job well done, I break out the Cherry Sours.

Is there a treat that you personally find revolting that your husband absolutely loves? Get it for him, letting him know through this small act, “This is all for you, baby…” (and if you truly don’t like the treat, he won’t feel obligated to share.)

Even if you do love it, insist that it’s all for him. Don’t let him share with you. This is something special that does not require him to share with his neighbor. (It’s perfectly acceptable to get a matching treat for yourself.)

Stumped for ideas? Here are some thoughts:

•Get his favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

•Is there a certain cut of meat that your husband loves? How about having the butcher cut something just for him?

•Learn how to make his favorite dish from childhood.

•My guy loves the smell of baking almost as much as he enjoys eating the treat. Have some brownies in the oven when he gets home from work or working out. (I know, it negates the workout, but isn’t chocolate always worth it?)

Let me know what you’re going to do for your man in the comments below and one of the lucky winners will receive a “My Husband is a Hottie” T-shirt! If you want one for a treat for him for Valentines Day, order it from my store by Thursday and you’ll have it in time for the holiday!)

Plus, we have the winners from January’s What’s for Dinner Challenge:

Monday Nancy Biffel

Tuesday – Sharon

Wednesday – Regena

Thursday – Nocole Blean

Friday – Jessica Lincoln

Tomorrow we’ll be announcing the winner of the What’s for Dinner Prize Pack from the blog tour in January. Stay tunned!