Submitted by Kara Zigament, RD, LD, Hy-Vee Dietitian
Do you ever look in your pantry or refrigerator and think: “Where did that come from?” Then you look at the product and notice there is no way you can use that in a meal at your house; there is mold or it’s past its best-use-by date. Proper meal planning, along with utilizing what’s in your house before it goes bad, is an important way to decrease food waste.
Did you know that, on average, each American is throwing away 20 pounds of food waste per month? An important way to decrease this would be by creating a meal plan for you and your family to follow. You can start with these three easy steps.
- Long live leftovers. Leftovers are a great way to use foods in your fridge that otherwise would go to waste. Try to plan one meal per week that involves leftovers. Here’s an example: take leftover chicken breast from dinner earlier this week, combine it with pasta from the fridge and sautéed zucchini and mushrooms that were on their last leg. This will be a quick and easy meal your whole family will enjoy. Or, use leftover hotdog or hamburger buns in the cheese toast recipe below.
- Freeze forgotten foods. Sometimes, foods we fully intend on using can get pushed back in our fridge, and when we find them again, they’re one day from going in the trash. Instead of throwing them away, put them in the freezer! This can include things like hotdog or hamburger buns, bananas, berries, spinach, and other greens. One great way to use these fruits and vegetables is in a smoothie.
- Save scraps. Every piece of our foods is something we can make use of. This can include potato peels, carrot, celery ends, and even chicken bones. Potato peels can be turned into homemade potato chips that are fun for kids to make and eat. Combining vegetable scraps or chicken bones with water and herbs can create a fantastic vegetable broth that you can use to create soup for your family. Scraps can also be turned into compost for your garden!
Decreasing food waste can be a fun way for you and your family to get creative with what meals you make for dinner. Take inventory of your fridge every night to make sure you’re having the least amount of food waste you can. Leftovers are perfect ingredients for soups. Gather up some leftovers to create this recipe.
For more information, contact Kara Zigament, Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian, at 563-264-2420. Hy-Vee is located at 2400 2nd Avenue, Muscatine, IA 52761.