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How to Make Your Food Go Further

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Feb. 1 2021, Updated 9:42 p.m. ET

Food waste is a huge problem. According to the Natural Resource Defence Council, $162 billion worth of food is thrown away every year in America. Of course, the biggest contributors are on the industrial scale but consumers are also tossing a lot of sustenance. On average, a family of four will throw away 1160 pounds a year.

Aside from being bad for the environment, that’s a lot of your dollars ending up on a garbage pile. So to help save you some money, and help the planet, here are some ways to make your food go further.

Planning

It may sound obvious, but not everyone does it. Plan at every stage. Plan out meals and snacks before you go grocery shopping and make a list. This includes taking stock of what you already have and when it needs using by. Going in blind and picking up whatever you think you might eat is a great way to end up with wasted ingredients by the end of the week. The planning doesn’t stop there. Once home, take note of all the expiration dates. Then plan what will be eaten each day around them. No more getting to Saturday and finding the chicken you bought went off on Wednesday.

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Throw-in-whatever meals

When planning, it may be a good idea to pencil in a day when you will use up what’s left. That’s where throw-in-whatever-meals come in. There are certain dishes that work just fine with anything you have. Take omelettes, for instance; meat, fish, poultry, and pretty much any vegetable can make a great meal. Even potatoes can be thrown in for a frittata. Got leftover rice? Day-old rice is actually recommended for fried rice, and you can throw whatever you fancy in to bulk it up. Sandwiches, soups, tarts – a whole host of meals can be completed with whatever you have lying around.

Make Stock

Produce is the food item most likely to be wasted, which is understandable when there can be short windows of when it’s at it’s freshest. But it’s also really easy to make use out of it once it’s past its best. Making stock pretty much just means chucking leftover scraps and items that are less fresh into a pot of water and simmering it for a while. Whilst you will have to extract the scraps and toss them, they will have served a function and created something new. Homemade stock is universally seen as better than store-bought, and using scraps is much cheaper than buying the cubes.

The same can be said for meat. Bones and scraps of meat can be turned into delicious, meaty stocks. Both can be frozen for months at a time and used for soups, pies, curries, sauces, and more.

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It should be noted that not every vegetable is best suited for stock, here are a couple of guides to help.

Make Sweet Treats

Saving food and money doesn’t mean you have to skip desserts. Some sweet treats can be made with food that is past its best. Bananas reign supreme in this area. When baking, your preference is ones that are overripe. Once carrots lose their shine, get too dry, or too soft, they can be used for carrot cake. A red fruit that’s lost texture can be turned into jam. Slightly too soft apples are great for pies or crumbles.

Sharing is Caring

When all else fails, and you really can’t find a way to use something before it goes bad, offer it to someone before tossing it. You never know when you’re sitting on something someone else could just do with.

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