Many of you are probably aware that for the last 13 months we have been writing this column from London, England where we are serving a mission for the Church. This morning, being a P-day, we went off to do a little shopping of our own and ran into a grocery “roadshow.” It was titled “Love Food Hate Waste.” We spent a delightful, few minutes listening to the presentation and picking up the recipes and pamphlets provided by some very savvy home economists. We’d like to tell you more about what we learned.
In the United Kingdom 8.8 million tons or £ 12 billion of food and drink are wasted every year. In the United States that problem is even larger. The average American family of four tosses out 1.3 pounds of food every day or 474.5 pounds each year. Since 1974 the amount of food we waste has increased by 50% until it is now estimated that we throw out 1400 calories of food each and every day or 150 trillion calories per year. Internet author Jodie Humphries writes in an article entitled “The impact of domestic food on climate change” that food waste in the US and Europe alone could feed the world three times over. That’s a lot of food wasted!
Why do so many of us waste so much food? That is a good question. The reasons vary but principally we waste food because
• We’ve cooked or prepared too much for our family to eat (particularly pasta and rice)
• We haven’t used it in time and it has gone bad (especially fruits and vegetables)
• The food goes past its “use by” or “expiration” date
• We haven’t planned our meals properly or our plans changed
• We forgot about the food we stored in our cupboards or our refrigerator
• We didn’t know how to properly use our leftovers
How do we remedy the situation?
Look through your cupboards and your refrigerator before heading to the supermarket. A young mother of four took advantage of a recent holiday weekend to sort through the contents of her cupboards looking for packages and cans which might be ready to expire. She found: four packets of rice, two half-consumed packages of spaghetti, a few garlic cloves, a half empty bottle of soy sauce, a half-eaten box of cornflakes, a partial package of crackers, 1 can of vegetable soup, 2 cans of kidney beans, and 4 cans of chopped tomatoes.
Then she went to her refrigerator. There, lurking behind the contents in the forefront of her shelves, she discovered some dabs of vegetables--onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. In her freezer was a packet of shredded chicken she had leftover from Sunday dinner the month previous, and three pounds of hamburger.
She tasted the crackers and discovered them too stale to use. Even though she was forced to throw those away, she put the rest of these items to immediate use. She made stir-fry the first day out of the shredded chicken, the dabs of fresh vegetables, the soy sauce, and some of the packets of rice. The second day she made spaghetti from scratch and used up 2 of her cans of chopped tomatoes and the 2 half-empty packages of spaghetti noodles. The third day she added the kidney beans to hamburger and poured over them 2 additional cans of tomatoes and a few spices and she had chili. The fourth day she used all that was left of her hamburger, another packet of rice, the vegetable soup, and turned it into meatloaf. The half eaten box of corn flakes was growing stale. She popped them onto a cookie sheet, placed them in a 350-degree oven for 3-5 minutes and placed them into an airtight container and her children ate them for the rest of the week. She still needed to go to the store to buy a few more groceries, but she had the basic ingredients for four meals and 5 breakfasts and she figured she shaved at least $50 off her typical grocery bill just because of better planning—not bad.
Use your freezer. Keep your freezer temperature at -18 C. or 0 F. for optimum usage. Fresh food can be used anytime up to the expiration date or it can be placed in the freezer where it will stay fresh nearly indefinitely if it is properly frozen.