According to a research, the average kitchen wastes approximately $1000 in food per year. Roughly 40% of all food produced worldwide ends up in the garbage. Think of how many hungry people could be fed if we cleaned up our act and actually used what we purchased and thus only purchased what we actually needed. Our budgets would be immediately helped by making a few changes and wasting less food. I know personally I cringe at the idea of throwing away $1000 a year. I can think of many ways I would rather spend that money.
Food waste also impacts the planet because we are wasting resources to grow food that we allow to rot and then eventually throw away. Just think about all the energy used to grow crops and the taxation of the soil. Throwing food away is highly wasteful and hurtful to our planet.
Here are a few very simple ways that you can avoid unnecessary waste in the kitchen…
Don’t buy food without plan: Probably the biggest mistake we can make when grocery shopping is buy food without a meal plan of some sort. We need to know when we buy something how and when it will be used. Sometimes we buy things on impulse and think will figure out later what to do with it. Perhaps those tomatoes look ultra appetizing or asparagus is in season, so you buy. Then they end up sitting in the frig or on your counter to rot because you had no clear idea what you would do with them. It is essential to make plans before buying so that everything is used per your plan and does not get wasted. 20-30 minutes spent planning a menu and ingredients list will save you money and it will reduce waste.
If meal planning is not your thing. Outsource!! I like eMeals. They even have a paleo meal plan.
Buy Foods At the Right Time: This is part of the menu plan. If you buy a bunch of avocados because they are on sale then taco night needs to be within 2-3 nights of purchase, not a week later. Coordinate your menu plan with what is on sale, what is in season, and what is available at your local farmer’s market and then use them up within that week.
Buy Less Food: Some people like to buy in bulk and/or buy most of their of food at once. Others like to make several shopping trips a week and buy a little bit at a time. The latter method will be more advantageous if food waste is a problem for you. Lots of groceries means you have to be very good at prioritizing and planning so that nothing goes to waste. If that is you then congrats…if not change your shopping habits and pick up groceries a couple times a week rather a couple times a month.
Organize the Kitchen: A big food waste culprit is a disorganized and cluttered kitchen. If your frig is stuffed to capacity and your pantry is overflowing how do you even know what you have in there??!? Once a month do a pantry overhaul. Once a week do a frig clean-out. This keeps your inventory fresh in your mind and it allows you to see what you need to use up. Make a list of the stuff you need to use pretty quickly and build your menu plan around that.
Store Foods Appropriately: If you buy apples by the bushel then you need to know how to store them so that they last. Wrapping the best apples in newspaper and keeping them in baskets or a boxes in a cold place for instance. Potatoes and onions are usually kept in well ventilated wicker baskets. I like these.
Also some fruits and veggies emit high levels of ethylene gas and can cause your other produce to go bad more quickly so make sure to keep them separate. Don’t keep your peaches and apples anywhere near the greens and celery. Do a bit of research on the foods you buy and find out how to store them properly.
Use Up Leftovers: Some families have a night set aside to enjoy leftovers so that they can use up the food in their frig/freezer before it goes bad. This may mean that your meal includes a mish mash of different foods but you aren’t allowing good food to go to waste. Just call it buffet night!
I also like to pack leftovers in school and work lunches and usually design our dinner menu plan around meals that will work well as lunches the next day.
Freeze Food Before It Spoils: If the food in your frig or on your countertops is looking pretty sad make sure to freeze it before it goes bad. Bananas that are browning can be peeled and frozen for fruit smoothies or for baking. Apples that are starting to go bad get turned into crockpot applesauce, which is then frozen. Greens that are not looking terribly fresh get frozen for green smoothies or for homemade vegetable stock. Small bits of meat get frozen for use in frittatas. Small bits of veggies can be frozen and used later in stir fry or casserole.
Buy Dried Foods: If you have a problem using up mushrooms before they go bad then make a switch to dried mushrooms. I love using dried mushrooms and wood ears in soups. Yum! They last a long time in the pantry and you don’t have to worry about using them up fast. Fruit is another thing you can buy dehydrated or dehydrate yourself (to use up seasonal fruit stores). It can then be used in smoothies, baked goods, snacking. etc. If your kids let bananas go to waste but they love dried banana chips, think about making a switch.
Don’t Toss It – Compost It: If the food is too far gone make sure to compost it and turn it into black gold for your garden and your houseplants. If you don’t garden, compost it anyway…I am sure that many folks would love to take the compost off your hands when it is ready.
Consider the Packaging: Waste in the kitchen isn’t just about food. What about all of the packaging waste that ends up in the landfill?? To mitigate this buy food without packaging whenever possible…its usually healthier food anyway. Buy fresh broccoli rather than frozen, buy ingredients to make bread rather than buy it in bags. Choose packaging that can be recycled before any that cannot be recycled. Bring your own glass jars and shop the bulk bins for grains, beans, cereal, etc. Be intentional when it comes to what you purchase.
You can also go a step beyond…
Be a Freegan: Freegans look for free food (usually in grocery store dumpsters) that has been discarded. The food is usually still perfectly good but it is thrown out on freshness dates that are very conservative. If you want to explore this option read my post on Freeganism or watch the movie Dive. It’s a great film!
I have made no secret that I am not really big on juicing. I have a Vita-Mix and we just seem to prefer whole foods juices and smoothies, with all the pulp and juice combined. That said it can be very nice though to have a cup of fruit or veggie juice without all the frothy pulp and the full tummy that comes after drinking a whole foods juice. My kids especially like juices and we are loathe to buy them at the store because of all the unsavory ingredients (like lots of added sugar) that often accompany those products. Organic and natural juices are available but have you seen the price on those???
Plus, sugar is sugar and most kid’s juices have a lot of it. A green juice is much preferred. Just something refreshing that they can drink with their meal and not fill them up so fast they won’t eat their dinner. We used to own a juicer and we used it often enough but back then we had a different house with a teeny tiny kitchen and we simply did not have room to store a juicer anymore. So goodbye it went.
At any rate I didn’t like the actual juicer very much. It was my first one and I bought a cheap Jack LaLanne model. I disliked cleaning it and I hated handling the blades. It made me nervous every time I used it and we kept misplacing the little magnet thingy that helped you put the blades in correctly. I swore that someday I would get a better one and as luck would have it the folks at NutrioPro recently offered me one of their cold press juicers to try. I have been hugely impressed with it.
Here it is after removing it from the box. This is everything you get…
The list of items/parts for the juicer are:
-New Bella NutriPro Cold Press Juicer with quiet induction motor
-Stainless steel juice strainer
-Single juicing screw auger
-1 pulp container with handle
-1 juice container with handle
-1 cleaning brush
-5 year warranty
I LOVE that the containers have handles. It was also super easy to put together and I had it raring to go in about 2 minutes and it is MUCH quieter than our previous juicer and our blender. I also love that it is a cold pressed juicer. It has no blades so the fruits and veggies are not pulverized into juice, they are pressed or squeezed, using a two step system. The pressing action won’t oxidize the fruit and vegetables and it will help keep the nutrients and enzymes intact. This is also because anything with a blade, like a blender or a juicer with blades, will heat up and start to destroy the nutrients. Cold pressed juices are a much healthier way to go. I hate handling and cleaning blades so double whammy bonus points here.
Another aspect that thrilled me was the fact that you don’t have to shove the fruit/veggies down into it…you basically throw them in and they get sucked in on their own. The only thing that has needed a little help from me thus far has been greens, like Kale. Everything happens so smoothly, I love it. Perhaps this is why NutriPro Juicers are said to get more juice from certain fruits and vegetables than other juicers. For example, the NutriPro got 66% more pineapple juice than one of its main competitors.
The next big win for me is the ease with which you can clean the NutrioPro. I HATED cleaning our other one and that fact often made me shy away from juicing. This one was very easy to clean and I had it done in about 3 minutes. The fact that there is not a whole lot of pulp and debris leftover is a big help. The hardest part to clean was the stainless juice strainer. I spent 2 of the 3 minutes scrubbing that with the brush. Everything else could just be run through some soapy water and rinsed. Easy peasy. It is dishwasher safe too but my dishwasher was full when it was time to clean up.
The very first juice I made was something I am now calling my winter wellness juice. It is full of fresh ginger which is so very good for you…like a natural wonder drug. It is perfect for winter time when illness is rampant and yummy too.
Winter Wellness Juice
1 large apple
3 large kale leaves
3 stalks celery
1-2 inches of ginger
To your health!!
The weather warmed up pretty fast here in Central Ohio of late. I went from having the heat on to having to open windows and put box fans in them so we wouldn’t have to resort to using the A/C, all in the span of one week. My kids reminded me that this was popsicle season and to avoid all the plastic wrappers and popsicle sticks that ALWAYS make their way to the carpeted areas of the house, we generally make our own. Here is our latest recipe. I have been making the popsicles for the kids and I drink the remaining as a smoothie. Delish and easy peasy!
Coconut Berry Smoothies and/or Popsicles
2 cups vanilla flavored coconut milk
1 half of a ripe banana
1 cup mixed frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
1-2 tablespoons Kids Calm Multivitamin Liquid- Fruity Splash flavor (optional)
Blend well and pour into popsicle molds or smoothie glasses. Enjoy!
The Natural Vitality Multivitamin I use in this recipe is a great product with vitamins sourced from whole foods. That is important to me. It is really tart so it is best to add it to water or put it in a sweet smoothie. We tried adding it to juice but since the juice was tart it made for a drink that was just to sour for my kids. They love these popsicles and smoothies though and supplementation for them is important to me with the nutrient depleted food and soil conditions today. It also has lots of magnesium, which is very important for them to get enough of. We have tried their other magnesium products like the Natural Calm but they like Calm Multi better.
24 Fruits & Veggies
Omega 3 DHA and EPA (fish oil)
Vitamins and Minerals
Natural Calm Magnesium
This is good stuff and we plan to use it all summer. Enjoy!
It’s a wrap! Time for some weekly updates and awesome links. I chose the photo above for this post because I have been channeling my innermost Groovy Green Goddess lately. I have been feeling nothing less than amazing and ethereal lately. My general happiness with every moment of life and my gratitude has skyrocketed. I have no “special” circumstances in my life that make this nirvana easier to understand so I think I am just doing something really right with my diet and health of late. The winter blues that sucked me into a black hole of depression every year for the past 3-4 years… nada. There is not a black cloud in sight. I walk around with a goofy smile all day just so happy to be me and to live the life I do. I cannot say for sure which lifestyle/dietary change has brought this on, there have been many, but here are some of the recent changes I made:
- Paleo Foods – I have gone primal. I eat like a caveman… or uh, a cavewoman rather. No grains, no beans/legumes, no added sugar, and almost no dairy either. I do allow some dairy like my Passion Fruit Chobani, Jeni’s Ice Cream, and shredded Parmesan. All foods (with a few exceptions) are as high quality (organic/grass fed/local/pastured) as I can get my hands on. I went from a high carb, low fat, low to moderate protein diet to a high fat, moderate to high protein, low carb diet. I have more energy than my kids!
- I am eating lots more coconut oil and coconut products. Just today I got a delivery of Coconut Cream Concentrate to make some grain free brownies this weekend. Booyah!
- Eating more naturally sweetened dark chocolate.
- I am supplementing. This is pretty new really since the only kind of supplementing I did before was greens powder in my smoothies. I am taking Vitamin D and making it a mission to eat more eggs from pastured, local chickens. When the local organic delivery service we were using closed we were left without good eggs so I stopped eating them. Recently we found a place really close to our home that sells pastured eggs though. Woot! I am also taking fermented cod liver oil, spirulina, and bile acids (because I have no gall bladder).
- Cooking pretty much exclusively with cast iron now.
- I stopped doing so much running. I started reading in many paleo books about how too much exercise is actually bad for us and goes against what our genes have evolved to do. Now I swim six leisurely miles a week, weight lift for 30 minutes 2 times a week, and do one 1-mile run a week at a fast pace.
- I run my two air purifiers/ionizers most of the day. Oh how I love them!
- More time for me and for couple activities is now mandatory. Tonight is date night for instance and I think I am as excited as I would have been at 16! I am even “dating” the exact same guy as luck would have it.
- I am meditating and doing some light yoga/stretching.
- I am getting organized in my home life and business and that is helping me with mental clutter. I am using Jennifer Berry’s Organize Now books and following the guidelines from one of my all time fave books called Make This Your Lucky Day.
- I am cleaning and redecorating with Feng Shui principles in mind and taking an online Mind, Body, Home Challenge with Tisha Morris of Feng Shui Your Life.
I think that pretty much sums up what has changed lately. I totally plan to keep doing more of the same! Okay… on to some links:
Lori at Groovy Green Living talks about the Susan G. Komen, Planned Parenthood thing. I love her take on it.
Stephanie at Good Girl Gone Green shows us 12 uses for An Old Shirt.
This article from Cheeseslave reviews a book that claims wearing a bra increases your risk for breast cancer. Very interesting!
Green rock star Beth from My Plastic Free Life has a book coming soon and you can preorder now. The book is Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. I am very excited to read it!
The Green Moms Carnival for January (which I was remiss in joining) is all about making resolutions to fight climate change. Awesome reading.
And lastly check out my Pinterest page. If any readers here are on Pinterest let’s meet up there okay?
Have a wonderful and joyful weekend everyone!
January ‘s Conscious Box arrived this week. The theme is “Renew Your Intentions”. I guess it is fitting that so many of the products seek to provide help with health and wellness goals since that is usually tops on our list! I enjoyed this box but have to admit that several things in it did not interest me.
Here is what it contained:
Raw Rev 100 Chocolate & Coconut Bar – This was the first thing to be touched in the box and it was divine. It is raw, vegan gluten free and dairy free. It’s made up of fruit, seeds, nuts, and cocoa so it is grain free and acceptable in this paleo household. Yum is an understatement!
Sacred Chocolate Mylk – The tiny package had a single candy heart in it but it was enough to elicit a moan of pleasure. It was creamy smooth like silk and really delicious. 100% organic and 60% cacao. I am not sure if you can buy these at Whole Foods but next time I am in there I will be hunting for them. I only want or eat chocolate once a month so these would be nice to have around so I don’t go bizerk and try to buy a Nestle bar.
Green Tara Spirulina Energy Bites – Sadly I did not like the taste of these at all. The ingredient list is organic bananas, organic sesame seeds, organic coconut, organic dates, and spirulina. So why did these taste like a bar of nasty soap? Ew!
But I do like the idea of eating more spirulina so I plan to save these and throw them in green smoothies.
Think Thin Crunch Bar – Can’t comment on this one as it did not pass the ingredient test and will be chucked or donated (since I have some other food to donate). It has soy protein isolate in it, as well as peanuts, which we are trying to avoid.
Parma Vegan Parmesan – I haven’t tried this yet but I think I will add it to a salad later this week. I have no issues with regular parmesan cheese but the ingredients aren’t bad in this alternative. It is gluten free, soy free, and dairy free. Ingredients: raw organic walnuts, nutritional yeast, organic pumpkin seeds, organic sunflower seeds, kelp, organic garlic, organic hemp seeds, organic sesame seeds, Himalayan crystal salt, & organic herbs.
Kelapo Virgin Coconut Oil – Organic, cold processed, and fair trade. This is good stuff and we use coconut oil quite often around these parts.
Guayaki Yerba Chai Spice Mate - Herba Mate, tea… it’s all the same to me. I did brew one of these and it was okay but why drink something unless you really like it? That is the way I feel about tea and coffee. I only like them if I add lots of cream and honey, so why bother?
Ancient Treasures Tea – See above. I am giving all teas to my husband.
Golden Earth Perfume – These perfumes are made of 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils and are infused with crystals. The Euphoria blend, which is what I got, is rose, jasmine, and agate crystal. No synthetic fragrances. Since I am not big on perfume and especially not jasmine, I gave this to my daughter who is happy as a clam with smelly stuff. I do love the concept of their perfume though!
Eco-Dent Tooth Powder - Very foamy and efficient tooth powder though not great tasting but what tooth powder is? None that I have tried. There was also some Eco-Dent gum. I am not a gum person so I will likely give it to my kids.
Ancient Minerals Magnesium oil and Magnesium Gel – I squealed in delight when I saw these. I love Ancient Minerals Magnesium products. Magnesium is so important for staying healthy and yet supplements are not absorbed well. Topical magnesium is much better and I was all out of the oil, which I prefer over the gel.
CleanWell Hand Sanitizer – I like the company and I like the product but I am just not a big user of hand sanitizer. This will likely be donated to the local homeless shelter.
Jo-Sha Eucalyptus Wipe – This product did not thrill me either for the same reason. I suppose an essential oil wipe could be used to clean off gym equipment or dirty hands but so can soap and water. Stuff like this is just not practical in my life when there are easier and cheaper solutions.
I hope there is lots of chocolate in February’s box!