Hey y’all. We want to start a little series around these parts to help you out. Now, we love posting recipes for you on the regular, but we also happen to have a lot of passions surrounding other types of food knowledge – for example, because we run a food blog we’ve become better and better at grocery shopping, using up everything in our fridge, and learning how to stock up our pantry for the week. We think the weekend is a good time for you to get at your kitchen goals, because you have more time to devote to planning ahead.
We had a request recently (Hi, K!) for more info on how to waste less food, so here are our suggestions:
1. Once a month, clean out your fridge – the whole thing. You guys, it’s the beginning of the month, which is usually my favorite time to do a bigger sweep of my fridge. I used to let jars and condiments sit for months – months! – without worrying about them, because I was too lazy (or scared, or just simply unaware) to check them out. But the beauty of the Internet is that it is full of knowledge, so I started doing more and more research on what can stay – and what should go. Check out this article from the kitchen for more, but here’s a pro tip – write on everything with a permanent marker when you opened it. That way, you don’t have to be wondering every time you open the BBQ sauce and hold your noise whether this is from that BBQ you made in January, or from the Fourth of July picnic.
2. Designate a grocery day, and try to stick to it. In our house, grocery day is typically Sunday, because usually we’re not working (Jeff works freelance and we cook for the blog on the weekends, so Saturdays are iffy at best.) Sundays go as follows: clean out your fridge (again!? I know but it makes number 1 that much easier!) and throw away anything questionable. Check the essentials – eggs, milk, proteins, etc.
To minimize your throw away items see below (under meal planning) but just know inevitably we all forget about the second bag of cilantro or those leftover potatoes from your fave restaurant that got lost behind the Brita. Anyways, off topic here. Once you’ve cleaned out your fridge, make a list of things you need. Here’s how to make a list for the grocery store. We also use the app “OurGroceries” because it lets Jeff and I share lists between the two of us. BUT HOW DO I KNOW WHAT I NEED? I am glad you asked. Because…
3. Meal plan. I’ve seen capsule wardrobing pop up all over the Internet (also known as “Sierra-ing your wardrobe”), telling everyone to par down their closet and stick to the basics. It makes getting dressed easier – and the same goes for food. Let’s be honest, here. You have a wheelhouse of recipes you make often, and some of those things have overlapping ingredients, yeah? I mean sure, sometimes you throw in a new recipe or two and some of those stick, but for the most part there is a rotation of dishes you are definitely going to look forward to and are easy to put together.
So make yourself a list of what you (and your spouse/roommate/family) have going on that week and here’s a trick: plan for one less meal. I learned early on that cooking for two is hard and I end up making food for four. Tack on an unexpected birthday celebration, a cold coming on, you/your partner working later than expected, and you definitely are staring those enchiladas in the face thinking, man I just want a bowl of cereal and a bar of chocolate.
4. List what you have somewhere in plain site. If you make a list of what you’re cooking, then make a list of what you’ll need to make those recipes, you will see where there are ingredients you’re going to have leftovers that will need to be used. For example: buying tortillas for enchiladas, will you end up with extra tortillas? If so, think of what you can do with those before you buy them, or else those last couple of tortillas will end up moldy in the trash. Make a list of the more perishable items and stick it on the fridge – we have a white board in our kitchen that I use to list all the produce we have so we remember what is in those drawers.
5. Once every quarter, clean out your pantry. Think of this like a repeat of number one, but with your more shelf stable items. I will usually make a soup from half-bags of grains, remember that I have several cans of black beans and make a dip, etc. Here’s more info on how to make your pantry work for you, but just remember – you should have things you’re going to use in your pantry, so try not to give into the 10 for $10 sales of things that will inevitably sit in your pantry for years to come.
Woah, that was a long one, but we hope it helped you out. What are you tips and tricks for making sure you’re not wasting food throughout your fridge?