The average US household wastes a lot of food. I know I have definitely been guilty of this myself in the past. If we have to clean out our fridge once a month and throw half the contents away spoiled, unused, and moldy then we are wasting food and wasting money. How much of our monthly food bill is actually tossed in the garbage? $20? $30? This has an impact on your finances and it impacts the planet because we use more than we need. So how do we nip this problem in the bud? Here are 8 ways that I have tamed this monster over the years.
1. List the leftovers. This is an incredibly simple and incredibly useful way to remind you to eat the leftovers! Put a magnetic pad on your refrigerator, you can usually get one for $1 at the dollar store or in the dollar bin at Michael’s Craft Store. When you put leftovers in the fridge, note the item and date. Aka “Sweet and Sour Soup 2/10”. The list will look right at you when you go to browse for your next meal or snack, even if the leftovers end up out of sight in the back of the fridge. It is also useful for spouses who are looking for something to take to lunch and perhaps didn’t know there were leftovers.
2. Freeze whatever you can. If you buy in bulk, buy those food items that can be frozen. For instance I buy almonds and other nuts in bulk and freeze most of them. Periodically I fill glass jars I keep in the refrigerator with the nuts until all are used. Freeze refrigerated leftovers after 3-4 days.
3. Discover some creative uses for your leftovers and unused food. Shepherd’s pie, vegetable soup, and casseroles are just some of the creative ways you can use your leftovers. Vegetables that are getting old but are not yet bad can be used to make vegetable stock that you can use immediately or freeze. Stale bread can be used to make bread crumbs and croutons, which you can freeze if you do not need them right away. Stale bread can also become bread pudding. Leftover meat can be incorporated into salads, burritos, soups, and stews.
4. Store refrigerated foods in the right places. The back of your refrigerator is colder than the front, and the door shelves are warmer still. Relegate dairy foods that are prone to spoilage to the back of the fridge, and keep items such as condiments and salad dressings toward the front or in the door.
5. When it’s too late, compost your spoiled food. Then you can use the compost to grow your own food. The circle of life baby…
6. Skip the counter top fruit bowl if you aren’t going to use fruit within a day or two and refrigerate it instead. Some foods, such as tomatoes, do not do well under refrigeration but apples, oranges, grapefruits, and lemons last much longer in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Make green smoothies if your fruit is starting to look sad.
7. Plan your grocery shopping and meals carefully to avoid waste. Go through your pantry and frig and make menu decisions based upon what you already have. If you have cilantro wilting in the frig then use the Internet to search for “cilantro recipes”. Look for recipes that utilize ingredients that you have already for the most part. Doing this allows you to use items before they go bad and you get to try new recipes.
Another tactic to go along with this same planning theme is buy up the bulk of what you need minus the produce. Then on the way home from work, errands, etc pick up the mushrooms you need to go with the beef and mushroom stew you are making that night. This way nothing sits in the fridge and you can change your menu without wasting food.
8. Cook the same thing 2-3 times in a row. I do this often. If I buy a bunch of ingredients for a certain dish then I want to use them up. Occasionally I used to make chicken scallopini (before going paleo) for instance and it uses white wine and cream (2 things I usually don’t buy or use). I would often make this meal 2-3 times in a single week until I used the wine and cream up. Last night we had Sweet and Sour soup and today I made it again for lunch because I had ginger and green onions to use up. My philosophy is to make food so good my family won’t mind repeats!
So how do you avoid wasting food?
Recommended Reading: Save Money on Organic Foods
If you want a more natural and non toxic dishwasher soap option you need to investigate better brands or make your own. Plus you never know when you will run out and need to make some yourself on the fly. No one likes to have to run out to the store before they can hit the wash button on their dishwasher!
DIY Dishwasher Liquid Soap Recipe
1/2 C liquid castile soap *do NOT use regular liquid soap!*
1/2 C water
1 t fresh lemon juice
3 drops tea tree oil or Thieves
1/2 C white vinegar
Combine the water and castile soap, stir. Add lemon juice, tea tree oil, and vinegar. Stir evenly until blended. Store in a glass pump bottle. I don’t like to store anything with essential oils in plastic. Use 2 tablespoons per load of dishes.
DIY Powdered Dishwasher Soap Recipe
3 Tbs Baking soda
1 Tbs Borax
3 drops of lemon essential oil
3 drops purification
Mix and use in dishwasher. It smells heavenly!
Houseplants are an awesome addition to the home for two reasons. They bring a bit if nature indoors and they are mini air purifiers. Selecting the best varieties for air purification and also the best variety for your space is the essential. You want plants that clean the air efficiently but that also won’t overwhelm the space. You also need to make sure they are easy to take care of and also not toxic to any pets you have. It can be a bit overwhelming to pick the best ones but the graphic below shows you some great options. Enjoy!
Image credit goes to Larks and Larks.
I am all about being happy and content with what you have. Bringing some freshness into your home is surprisingly simple, and can make a big difference in how you feel and how your home looks. Here are five easy ways to freshen up your home – this fall or anytime!
1. Add Some Color
Repainting is definitely room is one way to do this, but I am talking about easy ways to freshen up! So to add a pop of fresh color, try these ideas:
* Rotate out some colorful throw pillows on furniture
* Hang a couple prisms or suncatchers in windows for the effect
* Brightly-colored placemats and table runners add color to your table
* Decorate with fresh fruit and flowers to add a colorful punch
* Paint picture frames a funky color
2. Wipe Down Walls
This doesn’t have to be complicated – just a bucket of sudsy water and a rag, and you can remove years of grime from your walls. It may look like a fresh coat of paint, and it’s a lot easier and cheaper than painting!
3. Polish Wooden Furniture
This not only makes your wooden furniture gleam; it also makes your home smell great. Use something citrus-y for a really bright, clean scent. You can make your own furniture polish using olive oil and lemon or orange essential oil if you like.
4. Add Houseplants
Add some healthy, green houseplants to your windowsills and bring a wonderfully lively look to your rooms. Hanging houseplants also add drama and greenery. If you choose varieties that clean the air, then you’ll literally be freshening things up by making the air cleaner!
5. Get Rid of Clutter
It may be time to Konmari your home and get rid of anything that is not useful and which does not spark joy. Storage containers hide things but we need to ask ourselves why we have so much stuff we need to hide away.
Whether you’re a proud greenie, interested in long-term environmental solutions, or simply want to make a dint in your electricity bill, there are plenty of reasons to make your home eco-friendly. Have a look through some of the suggestions below and see what might work best for your home.
1. Invest in Solar Power
Few things are as overwhelmingly positive for the environment and for your incoming bills as solar power. Installing solar power panels at home is a relatively simple procedure, and while it may cost a little bit to install, your next power bill will show you exactly why it’s worthwhile. Harnessing the sun’s energy means you may need to change up a few habits. Putting the dishwasher on in the morning instead of when you go to bed or having a shower in the morning instead of the evening ensures you aren’t wasting valuable solar energy. To find solar energy solutions to suit your home, speak with a solar energy company like Absolute Energy Solutions to see what is available.
2. Say Hello to the Sun
If you’re serious about making your home more eco-friendly, it’s time to think about your heating and cooling techniques. Avoid using cost-heavy, energy-burning air-conditioning systems by embracing the weather and working your home to fit in with it. In winter time, find the side of the house where the sun first hits, and make sure all the blinds and curtains are wide open so the sun can filter in and warm the house. When the sun moves away, close the curtains and doors to stop the heat from dissipating. At night-time, close up any unused rooms – you’d be amazed at how much heat can be trapped by doing so. In summertime, keep blinds and curtains drawn during the day to minimise the effects of the sun, and throw open all your windows from late afternoon to catch any breezes.
3. Be Water-Wise
Water is one of the big things most people overlook, but being water-wise is a really great way to become eco-friendly. This includes everything from saving water, recycling water, and being aware of where your water (along with any mixed-in chemicals) goes. The first big water-wise tip is to be smart with your usage. Wash your car over the lawn, keep a bucket in the shower with you and use the water that is caught for your garden, and invest in a hose nozzle that restricts water flow. Nozzles can be found here to help you save water in your own home. You can also invest in timers to keep your showers shorter – just doing this can save thousands of litres of water every year. When you use chemicals (in the shower, when washing your car, and in the kitchen), remember all of them will eventually make their way through the drainage system to the natural waterways – think about what you’re using, and whenever you can, choose your chemicals with the environment in mind.
These are just a few simple tips that can make a big difference to any household. Have you used any of these? If so, let everyone know what worked well for you – or share any other tips you have – in the comments below.