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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Food Waste Reduction Challenge

Food Waste Reduction ChallengeYou all know the stats: 50% of the garbage that goes into the landfill is edible food. Even if your food goes out into the compost or picked up by your local yard waste service for composting, it's still not only a waste of money, but it's also a waste of energy.

Really, how bad is it? A University of Arizona study showed that 40 to 50% of U.S. edible food never gets eaten. That's $100 billion worth of edible food discarded every year in the U.S.. It's a tremendous waste of resources and one that we are all guilty in contributing to.

There's also a large environmental impact as well if your food waste gets sent to a landfill. Food waste is the largest landfill contributor to methane gas production, so unless your municipality has a landfill-to-gas capture, your rotten bananas and forgotten pickles are contributing to global climate change.

How is it a waste of energy? Because there's a lot of energy that goes into growing and transporting your food (unless you grow it all yourself, in which case the impact is a lot less), throwing it out just means you have to replace it with more food.

Do you have a food waste problem? Most likely you do. This is one of those challenges that we all can and should do. So, now's the time to sign up for the Food Waste Reduction Challenge. But, what does it entail?

Well, it's pretty simple. Your goal is to try to reduce the amount of food you throw out or put into the compost. This does not include inedible food waste like egg shells or banana peels (unless you have a use for them I don't know about).

Your job is to keep track of the food that you have on hand and make sure that it gets eaten or preserved before it goes bad and needs to be disposed. All it takes is a little planning, some organization and the willingness to be creative. Just remember to cook wisely and shop wisely.

So, every week, go through your fridge, cabinets and cellar storage and see what's getting close to its pull date or is starting to turn. If it's getting near, plan on eating it, making it into a meal, preserving it or freezing it. Since this is an important challenge that will help you reduce your waste and save money I'm going to host it for the whole month of February.

If you are interested in signing up for the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, add your name to the comments of this post. I'll check in occasionally to see how you all are doing or if you have any food saving recipes or tips to share with others. If you want to put the graphic up on your blog, just paste the following code:

<a href="http://www.thecrunchychicken.com/2009/01/food-waste-reduction-challenge.html"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/SXNkzogwZeI/AAAAAAAACg8/nLVl0Zkzv40/S1600-R/foodwaste.jpg" border="0" alt="Food Waste Reduction Challenge - February 2009" /></a>

Related reading:
One Country's Table Scraps, Another Country's Meal (NY Times)
All About: Food Waste (CNN)
Wasted Food (blog)

171 comments:

ruchi aka arduous said...

I'm down. This is something I'm really bad at that I need to try and fix.

wasterous.com said...

I'm in! In fact, I'm already in - this is our major resolution for 2009. As the old adage goes, "what gets measured gets managed". We think that if we track what we are wasting that in itself will make us waste less simply because we are much more aware, so we have started a blog to record how we do.
So far so good - yes, we could do better, but we are doing way better than we were this time last year.

Two Flights Down said...

I plan out meals before shopping. I've been trying to make a list of what's in the fridge/cabinets and needs use and design meals around that. Unfortunately, I've been getting busier/lazier, so this may help me get back on track.

I've been looking into different ways of freezing foods in order to keep foods from going back. I've been interested in learning more about how to keep food longer in addition to using it faster.

Willo said...

I am going to try too! But here is my question, how does a dog factor in? Most of the food we don't eat goes to our dog. So we throw virtually nothing out. Is that good or bad?

camp mom said...

Okay I'm in on this one. THough I would have to say we are already reducing the amount we throw out. BUt not nearly as much as I would like.

@Willo-table scraps for the dog aren't a good thing. It can put on weight that can be tough on their joints and systems. It's really tempting when they give you the look though. We have 4 eyes looking at us when the table gets cleared off.

Garden4Life said...

This is something I'd made plans on working on for the new year. I've used meal planning before, but I'm finding that we actually waste more that way, especially perishables such as produce.

Our best way to save food is to not cook the next meal until we've used up most or not all of the food from the last one.

Also, keeping our refrigerator a tad more empty helps leftovers from getting pushed to the back and forgotten.

Out of all of the food saving ideas, this one has served us the best and we are now sticking to it as the New Year is here. :) Thanks for the encouragement!

Mrs Money said...

One thing I have started doing is juicing fruits and veggies that are getting ready to go bad. That really helps cut down on me throwing out the whole beet, apple, etc.

Joyce said...

Okay, I'll go whole hog on this one (so to speak!). We really need to get on top of this problem at our house.

carsick said...

I'm in! We have already started doing this but slip up. This is great because now I know someone is going to check up I know I'll try harder. I will say since we have started doing this out grocery bill has gone down.

MN_homesteader said...

We are in, but I wonder how food that goes to the chickens is counted, since technically it is getting consumed?

Green Resolutions said...

I'm in. I've been stressing about this since I found the Wasted Food blog (http://www.wastedfood.com/) and realized what a problem this is. I appreciate any suggestions you and your commenters post!

Greenpa said...

Get rid of your fridge!!!

Really. You will WASTE LESS.

That big power sucking machine sits there, and promises it will save food for you. It lies.

What it does is tempt you into buying stuff you don't need; to use later- then you find it a year later, and throw it out.

The fridge says "Hey! you don't even need to think about this; just buy more, it's on sale!" So you don't think.

I guarantee- if you use your brain, instead of the autopilot "in the fridge!" you've been tricked into- you'll save money- and food.

C'mon Crunchy. Sharon has no fridge. Vanessa did just FINE without one- and used it as the top line on the cover of her book! Your turn!

Tune in! Unplug! :-)

Greenpa said...

Oh, yeah; the fridge also makes us fat. "I just need to eat this little extra bit- it's too small to go back in the fridge..."

That little extra left-over is there because- you bought more than you needed- because the fridge is there...

Village Green said...

When I bought my house, an over-sized refrigerator came with it. I know that it contributes to food waste. Plus it is very old and inefficient, so I'm getting a new, much smaller frig/freezer combo to be delivered next weekend. I'm quite sure this will help me use up what is in the frig, as I'll be able to see everything that's in it. No more hidden aging food stocks.

baloghblog said...

like wasterous.com, this is our new years resolution as well. So far, so good. It has forced us to come up with some new recipes, and creative cooking to get rid of the leftovers. It's been worth it though, we've already reduced our food bills. (and have a little less guilt!)

A friend of mine recently told me he saw a paper that reported the amount of embodied energy in the food that Americans waste is higher than the total amount of energy that we get from wind and solar power.

Shannon Hillinger said...

I'm in. I'm already doing so much better at this, but I was just sitting here with a half eaten bowl of oatmeal I'm eating for the second day and considering tossing the remains in our compost pile, so obviously I need to be better at this.

Green Bean said...

I'm in. I've been challenged out lately but this is something I'm really working on. In fact, I just wrote a post about it yesterday!

eatclosetohome said...

Do you have a source for the 50% stat? The main thing I'd like to know is whether they calculate restaurant waste into that statistic, or produce that's thrown away at the grocery store because it's imperfect (though edible), or things that never leave the farm because the farmer doesn't think they're salable.

Because I suspect a huge cause of food waste in this country is a skewed standard of perfection, which means producers try to make their food look more perfect, which makes customers even less aware what "real" produce looks like.

If, like me, you think you have your household food waste under control, consider this variation of the challenge: Buy ugly produce. Prevent food from entering the waste stream starting at the grocers. If you're going to cook it that night, you can cut out the blemish and save the rest from the trash.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Oh yay! We're in. We've been trying to reduce our food waste since growing our own veggies and raising our own animals, especially the meat. The piggies and cow died for our nourishment, so we're thankful and don't want to just throw them in the trash.
Although, I feel like I could use this challenge more in the summer when the garden is really producing and it's so easy to just let things go by and toss them in the woods. Maybe you should repeat it again in July or August?

Crunchy Chicken said...

Greenpa - I'm going to argue with you on this one. NOT having a fridge is going to make you fatter than having a fridge, because you'll feel compelled to eat all the food you made instead of throwing it out since you have no place to save your leftovers (either by refrigeration or freezing).

In spite of your claims, having a fridge allows me to save money because I can buy things in bulk and meter eating them out rather than buying lots of small items (in lots more packaging) and having to use them that day.

I'd even go so far as to claim, that in many cases, NOT having a fridge uses more energy than having one. If you guys are interested, I'll post about it later this week.

Farmer's Daughter - We sure can repeat this again in the summer. Then we can focus more on the preservation side of things!

Summer said...

Add me to the challenge!

GreenieJoy said...

I'm in! Last night I went to go use some butter and realized I had two full tubs of butter and both of them were expired! :( That made me sad and it just doesn't make any sense at all to let something like that happen! Part of my problem is that I'm really bad at organizing but my goal for Jan was to get organized so if I apply it to the kitchen hopefully it will help me waist less food! :)

Jena said...

I'm in! Great idea. I am going to start making a real meal plan once a week at least so this will tie right in with that.

cindy24 said...

I am in. Trying to work on this one. I have been trying to eat all the leftovers for Friday dinner. This week we managed most, but not all. Does old food that i give to the dogs count? I always figured they then eat less dog food...but given how fat my dogs are, maybe not.

kidk4m said...

Count us in! This is something we've been working on all along -but it still amazes me how often we still get this wrong. Even though we compost in our own backyard-it still gives me a twinge of guilt when I compost something that could have/should have been eaten in a more timely manner. We'll be signing up come harvest season too!

joan said...

We're in. We've been working on this, but accountability can only help.

Lynne said...

I am definitely in. I'm so ADD that in spite of sporadic good intentions, I regularly throw out food that I never got around to using the first time much less as leftovers. Either I forget I have it, don't feel like making it, or start to make it and realize I don't have anywhere near the time or other ingredients to finish it. If I can do this, I can do ANYTHING!

Di Hickman said...

I'm in! I've been consciously trying to reduce food waste for a while so this should be a good reminder for me!

lauren said...

I'm in. I have been doing much better lately, but I always can improve.

Cheri said...

Wow, I had no knowledge of the stats with this.

But, I can proudly say that I few months ago, maybe even a year now, I noticed how much food we were tossing and I have worked hard to reduce our food waste. I am more careful at planning our meals and much more strict at eating our leftovers, all of them before making a new meal! I am also more careful about how many fruits and veggies I buy so that we don't waste them. I make more trips to the store but I feel it is worth it! And we also have fresh produce in the house this way. My efforts have paid off...we toss/compost less than we use to!

Thanks so much for the post!

Hippie Dippy Designs said...

Great post! I had no idea that so much edible food went into the trash or compost! It's a shame when you think of all the starving people in the world too.

We try to make menus and plan but there still seems to be some waste. We are gonna work at this now that we see these stats.

LittlePeopleWealth said...

I'm definitely in! I also got a composter for Christmas, but I haven't set it up yet :(

Jennifer said...

Willo~ I actually think that table scraps are GOOD for dogs, and my vet agrees... as long as they are not high in fat. But any vegetable scrap is actually excellent for their health! Mine get all veggies and egg scraps that aren't super spicy. Dogs need to eat, and that prepackaged kibble we give thme (I give it,too) isn't the best food for them overall. It would be like us eating frozen dinners all the time. Or the instant soups. A little fresh food will only enhance your pet's diet (baring excessive fats, of course!)

Carmen said...

Sign me up...

Heather said...

I have recently learnt a useful trick. If I have several things that need using up soon and no idea how to make a meal out of them with what I have in the house, I simply type their names into Google along with the word 'recipe'. I have yet to fail at finding a good idea! I even did this recently just typing 'onions' and 'recipe' after our 20kg sack of onions all starting sprouting unexpectedly early, and came up with onion jam. A delicious and easy-to-make condiment that I, for one, had never heard of :-) Whatever did we do without the internet??

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

I'm in! I like the phrase wasterous said: what gets measured gets managed.
Katie

Mike and Jenny Olson said...

I'm so in. This has been a problem in our household and would love to eliminate or atleast substantially reduce.

Yvonne said...

I'm working on this one too. So much so that I have hardly bought any food since Christmas, I'm still ploughing through the cheese and biscuits.
That said, I baked today for the first time in ages and found the tin of yeast had gone out of date without ever being opened. Please sign me up.

Christine said...

Count us in. Though with 5, 3 and 19 month olds, this ought to be interesting. Guess I'm going to have to start eating those leftover PBJ crusts.

Greenpa: Can't live without fridge. Can't go to grocery store every day with tiny children. Must stock up. Can't cook every day. NEED leftovers, need refrigeration for leftovers. Good for you. Bad for us.

Martin said...

We have a couple of very unwasteful routines at our house. One involves an efficient sequence of making turkey sandwiches and then turkey soup. Another involves keeping virtually all of our fresh fruit in a bowl on the table.

mudnessa said...

Count me in. I wanted to do this and have been trying the last few weeks. I am trying a lot of new recipes so hopefully they come out good and not inedible.

Oldnovice said...

I'd like to get involved with this one.

stella said...

I'm in! We don't usually have a lot of waste, but we just threw away three old eggs and a pomegranate that didn't get eaten before our long vacation :(

Carla said...

I'm willing to try. I so suck at not throwing out food in the winter. In summer, the scraps make it to the compost bin, but in winter, I have to trudege through the snow to the back of the yard, whine, whine, whine.... And with some picky eaters, I'm sorry to say, quite a bit gets wasted. :o(

Marcie said...

Count me in!
i'm just as guilty and although I do compost, its still a waste. Especially considering how many people in this world (including in the US) who go to bed hungry every night.
And here I am throwing out food I let go to rot.

I'll be posting your challenge on my blog as well!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I'd like to try this! My toughest problem is when I make a meal and I don't like how it turned out. We end up not eating the leftovers, and pitching them. I hate that. But, here's a real question: can I give the food to my dog, if she'll eat it? Last week we made pork chops that turned out weird-tasting and tough. But Brownie loved them! And it won't go to the landfill, right?

Chile said...

I already do this so don't sign me up. Seriously, you show me one other lunatic in this country, and maybe the world, who made pomegranate liqueur with the chunky sifting remains of ground dehydrated pomegranate seeds that had already been cooked and juiced to make jelly, and I'll admit I might be wasting food.

And I make frugal soup aka stone soup on a regular basis with any leftover bits and pieces. I take home veggies from the CSA pulled out because they have bad spots. A little trimming and I have usable food. Heck, I used to pick up the produce discards from the grocery store and sort it into 3 piles: Us, Chickens, and Compost. 10-25% of it, destined for the trash at the store, went into our bellies.

Good on you for bringing attention to the wasteful habits of humans, though!

Green Grrl said...

Sign me up! :)

Sharlene said...

I am in . I waste leftovers way too often. My dogs are huge scrap dogs though. And I need my fridge. I have been without and I was not a fan. Sorry Greenpa

whatifgirl said...

Our family just started a "month of no spending" as part of trying to control our wasteful habits, so this is another great idea. Sign us up.

fernwise said...

Sure, I'll join in. But anyone have any ideas for the quart of bean sprouts I ended up with when I only wanted two cups worth? I'll stir-fry one cup tomorrow, I'll use one cup raw, but that leaves two more cups to use up.

Fern, over sprouting

tortuga said...

I'm in. I just made cole slaw out of a head of cabbage that was on the verge. I'm always tossing stuff from the CSA box that I don't get to.

Heather said...

@Fernwise: There are lots of cool ideas of Indian-ish things to do with sprouts here:

http://ammaluskitchen.info/2009/01/06/sprouted-almond-milk-and-jfi-round-up/

Carmen said...

Christine - Leftoverr PB Crusts - put them in the freezer and when you have a collection, use them to make stuffing!

Anna said...

I live in Korea- we live on a military base where at least 75% of our garbage is food waste, because most other things are recycled. By spring, I hope to have some community composters for a kids community garden we are building, so that will help. My kids are big food wasters, though. What do I do with an apple that's half eaten and then been rolled around on the floor for a few hours?

Before we moved on base last year, we lived on the economy, where food waste had to kept in a special red bag and dumped in a community bin. I assume it was then composted or used in some other way. It was thought to be very disgusting by many of my American friends and they went to great lengths to avoid having to take the little red bag to the bin.

Anonymous said...

Wow, is this challenge ever timely! I just spent HOURS this weekend throwing out hundreds of dollars of food due to a moth infestation- GROSS and humbling. I'm sure it wouldn't have gotten that bad if I hadn't bought so much food and let it sit on the shelves in the first place. I am definitely in.

fernwise said...

Thanks, Heather. The Korean salad is especially good for my family.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

great challenge. i'm definitely in on this one. there's always room for improvement.

Kathy said...

I'm in! It fits with my 2009 goals for being a better steward of my resources. We are pretty good about dividing and freezing bulk purchases the day we buy. But leftovers can snag me up - bad planning on portion sizes! Some things can be re-used (like I freeze rice to use in soups) but I just tossed a serving of soup that sat in the fridge too long!

Lesley said...

Add me to the list! I've been working on this already, but this will keep me honest, LOL!

Erika said...

I'm in! DH and I have been trying to do this for a while, but we've been struggling. We just had to compost several squash (zucchini and pumpkin) 'cause they got soft before we noticed. I guess we could have technically eaten much of them, but a science project (can we grow pumpkins and zucchini in the compost) seemed the easier route - especially since I'm the only one that's gung-ho about eating zucchini and pumpkin in installments other than dessert.

--Erika

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

I wonder how much of this waste is due to throwing out perfectly good food by restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores?

Has anyone tried out freeganism? I never have but it sure as heck would reduce food waste. I know there are several charities that try to get rest/bak/groc to donate their leftovers at the end of the day.

Michelle said...

Does feeding it to the dogs or the rabbits count as waste or not waste?

Rachel said...

I'm in. I've been wanting to reduce our food waste for awhile - I just needed some motivation. We are really bad about throwing away leftover food or buying produce that doesn't get eaten in time.

Scout said...

Great timing on this one, sign me up! I went on an expedition into the refrigerator today, looking for some chutney that I just knew we had. Sadly, the open jars (both of them) were from a store that I stopped shopping at a long time ago, when we started buying more local food. Money says three quarters of what's in my fridge falls into that category.

Although I'm inspired by Greenpa, I'm unlikely to convince my SO to go much further than buying a smaller and more efficient fridge, when the time comes. In the meantime, I relish the challenge of throwing out less food! My focus will be the produce from my weekly organic veggie delivery that I don't get to. In the meantime, do I have until the end of January to clean out the jars of black bean sauce that are past their prime?

Janell said...

Count me in, too! - Janell in L.A.

Katy Wolk-Stanley said...

I've gotten to be point where I waste hardly any food. I posted a "Waste No Food Challenge" last May, and am happy to join your Food Waste Reduction Challenge.

Here are The Non-Consumer Advocate posts that relate:

http://thenonconsumeradvocate.wordpress.com/category/waste-no-food-challenge/

Don't forget to check out Jonathan Bloom's wastedfood blog:

http://wastedfood.com

Katy Wolk-Stanley
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."

http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com

J and J Oxrieder said...

I'm in too. We've been pretty good at this lately but it's always good to have a challenge to help out.

We have a worm bin so a lot of our leftover waste goes into that. Hopefully worm farts don't contribute too much to climate change ;) Plus our chickens eat some food scraps depending on what it is.

I do need to work on the squash that is in the basement, it might be heading south fast.

Terraphany said...

I'm in. In the past week, I've chucked a 1) loaf of pumpkin bread that was just too terrible to eat (why I don't know, since the other loaf turned out just fine), and 2) candied citrus peels that were incredibly bitter (I think I either didn't scrape off enough pith or I didn't blanch enough. Or maybe I just really don't like candied citrus peels). Sigh. I hated wasted the food, but I couldn't figure out any way to make I've been consoling myself that in general my adventures in cooking are successful 80% of the time and usually I can figure out a way to salvage things.

I've been working on ways to use food waste (apple cores--> jelly, veggie scraps--> stock, bread crumbs --> um, bread crumbs, citrus peels--> dry and use as flavoring, since I think that will work better than candying) rather than composting, and I'd love to hear other suggestions.

Christina said...

One thing I want that I think would be really helpful for eating up what's on hand: a website/resource where I can give it what I have (ie, dried apricots, applesauce, 3 onions, and half a chicken) and it gives me a selection of recipes I can make with that. Maybe not all of the ingredients I list, and definitely not limited to those. But I can't help thinking that there have got to be interesting and yummy things to make out of what I have, I just don't know what it is. Anyone know of such a site or how to Google for it? My search strings come up empty...

Heather said...

@Christine

I just typed "dried apricots applesauce onion chicken recipe" into google and got this yummy looking thing on the first page:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/09/crockpot-applesauce-chicken-recipe.html

Doesn't use the apricots, but if they're dried, they'll keep till you find something else to do with them...

just me said...

I actually do pretty well with this one, but I could try harder. It's a financial issue for our family, as well--I cringe every time I have to compost that pricey organic produce that we didn't get around to eating.

Imzadi said...

I'm so in on this!
I'm keenly aware of just how much food waste is going in the bin each week... almost all of it being leftovers from meals we forgot, or fast-food type entrees that were half-eaten.

I started keeping track of what I do eat and buying smaller portions of the things we actually eat on a weekly basis. So far, this has cut down our food waste from one large garbage bag full of food each week, to having only thrown out a few pieces of bread and what was left of my grandma's take out entree. That's it!

If we can keep it to maybe a bowl full of food wastes tossed each week (or less), that will definately be a success. Actually, anything under half a garbage bag would be a success, but I'm aiming high.

awimsatt said...

I'm ready for this challenge.

Audrey said...

I'm in. This is really a no brainer.

Megan said...

I am SO ready for this! The Women's Environmental Network group that I run is doing a food campaign, and this will be great!!

I live in the UK, with an incredibly small kitchen and a fridge like the ones everyone had at college. It certainly helps to have no space when trying not to waste food.

However, we have a LOT of damp (a huge problem over here) so I've had to throw out unused flour recently because it went moldy. ewww... Now I'm on a plan to make more bread so I don't have it just sitting there.

I've stopped peeling most vegetables, which helps as well. No more potato/carrot/parsnip peelings adding to the compost.

I think I'm going to stop buying jars of ethnic-food ingredients that I use for one recipe and then sits in the fridge for ages (it's amazing how many of those will fit into a tiny little fridge!

Maya said...

I'm down. Right now the biggest waste of food we face is probably when we eat out, and leave some food behind on our plate. That doesn't ahppen too often, but still. At home, I have two tiny compost containers (large yogurt containers, actually) that I seperate things for the actual compost, and supplements for my chickens. Neither bin gets much, mostly just trimmings from when I chop and cook... Still, I'm sure there is somewhere I can improve! One thing I have found to do in the summer, when I sometimes receive more produce than I can eat from my farm co-op, is to juice the veggies that are looking peaked. Then I give the leavings to the chickens or the compost. This year I plan on cannning and dehydrating more though, so that will happen less, too...

Lynnet said...

I'm in. I've been working on reducing waste, but sometimes things still get away from me, like the bag of kale hidden in the back of the frig from months ago :-(

Amy said...

Count me in too! We could use some work on this.

Chile said...

Christina - here's a recipe for you (made up). If the chicken is raw, cook it (roast, bake, or boil). Bone & dice. Dice 1-2 of your onions, depending on how much you like onions. Chop your dried apricots. Saute the onions until nicely golden.

Measure out your applesauce (no more than 1 cup) and add enough water to have 3 cups of liquid. Add to the onions and bring to a boil. Add the apricots, chicken, and a 12 oz box of whole wheat couscous (or 2 cups from the bulk bin). Stir quickly, remove from heat, and cover. Let sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Dinner is served.

Season to taste with salt & pepper. Toasted sliced almonds would be a nice garnish. If desired, you could add some curry powder with the liquid.

(In)Disposable said...

Count me in.

This is something I've been doing for awhile since we can't afford much food with the raise in prices yet no raise in income. In addition to being aware of what is in the freezer, fridge and cupboards, leftovers are the norm here. I also eat after my children at breakfast and lunch so that if they leave something on the plate it gets eaten. To some this may be gross but if it means 1) not wasting and 2) not buying food on credit then it's worth it.

I've also been sticking to a menu based on what is in the house already and adding to the grocery list the ingredients that need purchased for the week. This has cut back on food costs, eliminated waste and saved us from moments when no one is sure that there's food to actually make into a meal. It also saves time. Knowing that I was making vegetarian chili tonight allowed me to prep the beans and find the ingredients last night and plan for enough for two batches so one can be eaten later in the week.

Stephanie said...

I'm in, I am always looking for ways to waste less food.

heather t said...

Me too - I need help with this.

Fridges - I've often thought I could get away with a smaller fridge if I had a bigger freezer. Dream kitchen would have one under-counter fridge and one under-counter upright freezer. I think that would be plenty of storage in the right proportions for our family.

Billie said...

Wow! I had no idea that so many people wasted food.

We have a problem with food wastage in our house. It is called my husband. I totally don't understand it. For example, his ex cooks him food for free. She is not in a great economic situation but she still gives him food because he likes food cooked like 'back home'. He brings it home and might eat half of it. The other half gets thrown out. Does he seriously think she can afford to give him food to just have him throw it out?

Some produce gets thrown out mostly because it is bought for him to eat and he doesn't eat it. I don't always keep track of his food so I don't always get a chance to factor his going bad food into my meals and eat it myself before it goes bad.

I grew up in a household where we couldn't afford to let food go bad. Very little food that comes into this house destined for me gets thrown out. All I see are the dollar bills that literally get thrown into the trash if something becomes spoiled.

queenofmaye said...

Count me in!

I am really interested in the no refridgerator or using a dorm size fridge. I did this is when I lived in Estonia. It worked well, even sharing it with another family. Of course I wasn't dealing with teenagers/college age eaters. Anyone have success with in this arena?

scifichick said...

Sign me up!

Ramos Family said...

I am in...my family really needs to work on that!

Ange (de Montmartre) said...

I already do a mostly-great job with this, and I think the "credit" lies with the way European food is packaged (I live in France). Virtually everything is packaged in single or double serving sizes, economy size is unheard of. Plus our Euro-fridge is small, so there's not much space for things to go missing in the back. And the Labrador eats raw vegetables every night (last night, arugula, tonight, celery and carrots) and our occasional raw meat scraps, so we have virtually no food waste.

The glaring downside to this is that the small Euro-packages mean ENORMOUS plastic, paper, metal and glass waste. All of which, fortunately, is recycled. It would be better not to have to generate it in the first place, but there's no alternative, sadly.

Neelofer said...

Sign me up. This has long been one of my biggest problems.

Neo@ said...

Count me in! I'll start a green blog now

Anonymous said...

a use for those egg shells from my vet. We have a dog with congestive heart failure and renal failure who has to have a home cooked no sodium diet. The vet said to save the eggs shells, dry them out in an open bowl in the frig and then crush them in the food processor when I puree the dog's dinner. Good source of calcium. I also drain off all fat from her meals that I can. The question is what to do with all this ground beef grease? I found a no sodium dog treat recipe where the meat fat can be substituted for butter.

Consider me in on this challenge. I just lost my job and one way I can cut the budget is to use all the food I buy. My other dog is a canine garbage disposer but I want to limit his people food consumption.

I have my Angel Food Ministry box coming Saturday so today, I'm planning menus for two based on that purchase plus what's sitting in the pantry and freezer. With luck, I can avoid grocery shopping for a good long time.

Next step is a new rule that after every meal, leftovers get portioned out in divided trays to be eaten at lunch for my working husband and for me at home. This weekend, hubby got a little lazy and just put the chili I made pot and all in the frig. Lot easier to pull out a bowl already portioned and less chance it will go to waste if some of it goes into the freezer.

My mother has also gotten into juicing and is tossing tons of veggie and fruit pulp a week. I'd like to find a way to use that so it isn't tossed. I don't have a compost pile yet. Some of it can go in muffins or to make veggie broth, I suppose.

psuklinkie said...

Despite the fact that I dumped almost a full container of sour cream last night... I'm in! We actually waste very little food, sour cream notwithstanding, so wasting even less would be excellent.
Great challenge!

jennconspiracy said...

Wow. Really? People throw away food?

I guess I grew up poor enough that I don't waste anything - even stale tortilla chips. Also, there are the terrible pictures of starving Cambodian and Ethiopian kids that I had review throughout grade school.

That's why I forage - I hate to see grapefruits rolling down 51st St or moldy Meyer lemons on someone's lawn.

At worst, I might have an avocado ripen more quickly than I expected or a jar of jam that I didn't hot water bath and eat fast enough out of the fridge gets moldy. Leftovers don't last more than a day (they are for LUNCH!).

Good luck with this challenge, folks!

jill said...

sign me up! I have thrown away a lot of food and always felt guilty about it. I have been a lot better for about a year now. I still have a problem with buying things at the grocery that I already have. This challenge should help me reduce waste and save money!

ELP said...

Count me in, this is an area that has always been a challenge for me. I hate wasting food and the money !
great idea Crunchy.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as well. This will certainly add variety to the dog's diet. Good luck with this.
Cheers.
Teacup

Condo Blues said...

Count me in! Not wasting food is a BIG tentpole in The Condo. In fact, I already participated in the challenge tonight without knowing it! I added a slightly squishy eggpalnt and celery to tonight's dinner of Cuban beans & rice. I added leftover rice from a previous dinner too.

Condo Blues said...

Count me in! Not wasting food is a BIG tentpole in The Condo. In fact, I already participated in the challenge tonight without knowing it! I added a slightly squishy eggpalnt and celery to tonight's dinner of Cuban beans & rice. I added leftover rice from a previous dinner too.

Robj98168 said...

I am down with it! I am actually pretty good about food waste- what little I have I put in the compost/wormbin/or yardwaste bin.
Chile wrote a pretty good post on leftovers today-I actually love leftovers and take them to work for lunch. That is the only way I can make tuna casserole!And I love my tuna casserole!

TheOrganicSister said...

Not sure if this was mentioned yet but we've started a freezer container that any leftover veggies get thrown into. Other thing like potato peels could probably go too. At the end of the month (or whenever it's full) we make a vegetable stew out of it. Extra potato can be added if needed, or anything else ya need.

It's cut down on our food waste - which is almost always leftovers.

~Tara

Jenette said...

I'm in. I will stop the CSA box ... I am always tossing stuff that I like or goes bad.

Adrienne said...

I've already been doing this for years... way before I ever had many thoughts about waste and energy use. I simply can't afford to throw money away which is what I'm doing if I toss food I bought and paid for.

Jennilyn said...

We are in, and have committed on our blog, http://clippingcorners.blogspot.com/.

Anyone have any ideas on what to do with leftover kids food, like cheerios that are mushy and stuck to the floor?

Debbie said...

Count me in...
Like Two Flights, I've been trying to plan before going to the grocery store. And working with seasonal, local ingredients that I can get at the farmers markets – fresher with longer shelf life. Luckily there are lots of options in Southern Cali

Danielle said...

I'm in. Everyone should also remember a golden rule of the food service industry: First In, First Out. That means that you should use the oldest tomato soup in your cupboard first, etc.

Also, planning makes eating more efficient. I work leftovers into the plan, and make sure that I eat them within a reasonable amount of time.

The last thing that I have to say is about the cultural attitude about leftovers: when you take a meal out of the oven and see that you'll have at least half left, put half of it into a container and "plan" for it to be a meal later...don't think of it as leftovers, but an entirely separate meal.

Willa said...

Count me in too. I am good about conserving & preserving, but less good about using what I have preserved. I have this fear that if I use it now, I won't have it when I need it. Often, though, when I need it, it is past prime.

Jonathan (Wasted Food) said...

Thanks for including my site under the "related reading." I'm so excited to see all you people fired up about preventing food waste. It's something I think about approximately every other waking hour.

Feel free to get ideas or leave your own under the "Tips" page on my site. Best of luck trimming that waste!

Joy said...

Count on me! This is something I already strive at but perhaps I'll really crack down if I sign up!

ChefBliss.com said...

Count me in! I started composting last summer and am very conscious of what we toss. It's taken me a while but I plan our meals based on what needs to be eaten. Thanks for a great challenge. We are not perfect but we keep striving for better!

Gloria Chadwick said...

I just saw your badge on Chef Bliss's blog and clicked over here. I've been an active environmentalist since before it was the cool thing to do. I was planning to do some earth-friendly posts next week to help save our planet, with a give-away (an earth-friendly grocery tote bag and my book, Happy Ways to Heal the Earth, so I'll connect my posts to your event.
I'm so with you on this! Thanks. :)

Alan said...

I'm in, but we really waste almost no food. My wife hates cereal for breakfast and doesn't want to eat too many eggs, so many, if not most, of her breakfasts are leftovers (almost anything can be made into a burrito or a hot skillet). Plenty of salsa helps.

A lot of our one-dish meals are large enough for a second meal, especially with a little extending, so there is nothing left to compost or throw out.

Once in a while, a little carton with a few ounces of gravy gets shoved to the back of the fridge and overlooked until its mold colony is ready to apply for statehood. But that's pretty rare and it always gets composted.

Bread that's past its prime gets diced up, toasted, and saved in the freezer for stuffing (our stuffing usually has at least 5 kinds of bread in it).

This evening I found a couple of mushy, moldy apples in the root cellar and they went into the compost, but if apples are just a little soft, we make them into fresh applesauce (yumm!).

Once you get into the habit of eating up leftovers (I take cartons of leftover pasta or beans, or Thai fried rice to work for lunch), the wasted food problem will fade away.

Terri said...

Count me in.

ZombieKitteh said...

add me to the list. This is something I wish I could get my parents into doing.

ZombieKitteh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZombieKitteh said...

@Camp Mom:

We have fed our dogs and cats table scraps all my life and I have VERY healthy dogs with shiny coats and white teeth. In fact my oldest is 11 years old and the vet gives her another 4-5 years or more!
I think it totally depends on what scraps you give. Some things are very bad for dogs such as onions, grapes, rice, and of course, Chocolate.

@Alan: We use stale bread as crutons. We dice them, roll them around in some butter and herbs and garlic powder, and toast them and then freeze them. Yummmm

ZombieKitteh said...

@Camp Mom:

We have fed our dogs and cats table scraps all my life and I have VERY healthy dogs with shiny coats and white teeth. In fact my oldest is 11 years old and the vet gives her another 4-5 years or more!
I think it totally depends on what scraps you give. Some things are very bad for dogs such as onions, grapes, rice, and of course, Chocolate.

@Alan: We use stale bread as crutons. We dice them, roll them around in some butter and herbs and garlic powder, and toast them and then freeze them. Yummmm

Katy said...

I don't make enough money to let my food go bad before I cook it, but I also need to eat more left overs. I have an averstion to reheating things that leads me to through things out that I could probably save and eat again.

So I guess I'm in.

~G said...

I'm late....but I'm in!! Funny...I was just about to recruit my nine year old daughter to help me with this kind of a project/challenge.

anarchyintheak.com said...

This is one that's been a major concern for me lately, but get this--MOSTLY because we get boxed vegetables sent in from a CSA in Washington! Otherwise I only go to the store (Costco) about once every month and a half so obviously most of what we buy is non-perishable...

The organic veggies shipped in from Full Circle Farm turn SO fast, but it's the only way to get half-way decent tasting fresh foods in AK in the winter!

Maybe my own personal challenge should be to just sacrifice more when it comes to eating local and in-season.

bare-faced gardener said...

When I’m on my own there is very little waste, but when my husband is back it’s difficult to use up the food because he’s a (bit !) fussy and I’m obviously not skilled enough at looking like I’ve produced a new dish from the leftovers ! So I’ll have to work on that.

What I am guilty of is watching fruit go bad. It sits in the bowl and I look at it every day to see how ripe it is and how much it is starting to rot ! Terrible !!

I do compost everything, though, using my wonderful bokashi bins.

trina said...

Great challenge. I'll be tracking my progress on my blog miamidish.net.

MamaFeelgood said...

Why not? I love the Freeze yer buns challenge.

cathy said...

Fantastic post! I so need to do this. I am the worst about wasting food. Not only does it contribute to our waste production, but it's money wasted.

Karen said...

I'm on board! We very seldom throw out food. I take leftovers and 'remake' them into another dish entirely! Happy to put the button on my blog :)

Bjørk said...

We so need this. I'm in.

Lora said...

IN!!! I love this idea ... we need to spread the word about this issue ... I'm gonna post this to my facebook and twitter ...

mamalove said...

So ready for this! Going through the cabinet/fridge tonight to plan accordingly.

gail said...

what a great plan! I'd already started doing this unconsciously and was getting a real kick out of being creative with back-of-the-fridge items. I'm definitely in, and will spread the word.

Maria E. M said...

count me in! This is great. Can you put up some ideas too.Ive heard a little about persons making broth from vegetable scraps...etc. But for some reason I can;t get myself to do this since the scraps I throw just seem icky.

Mariella said...

we're so bad for wasting food in our household and that's even with the compost and pig scrap bucket!! Just this morning I chucked out about a 1/4 carton of soy milk that had gone sour and almost growing things in it (eewwk!!). SO yeah I'm in on this one!! Great idea!!

We've also got a whole lot of oversized zucchinis that probably won't be eaten given to us from a friend and neighbour so I might have a go at making pickle for the first time ever!! Will ask Nan and Pa to help me!

A Mama in Seventh Heaven said...

I'm in!!

Tammi said...

I'm so with ya on this. :)

mrsdirtyboots said...

I've always hated wasting food (my greedy genes) I've been making a more formal effort this year. So I guess I'm saying 'I'm in!'

Yess said...

Ok I can do that no problemo, though I need compost for my plants and I hate buying it and alot of stuff doesn't even make it there like vegetable peels...they don't exsist.

Lynnae said...

I'm in! This is right in line with my goals this year. No waste in February! And by then, planning meals around what I have on hand will be a habit!

Anne said...

This totally goes along with our families "live green, live simply" plan for 2009. I'm really excited to do this

Callina said...

I posted a comment on your other post...anyway, I'm in!

grammpaula said...

This sounds like a good challenge for me. Count me in. I will start tomorrow since it's late. I will clean out the frige and start using all those leftovers for this weeks meals.

Red said...

New reader here (hello!) seems I found you just in time, what a marvelous challenge, I'm in!

Liza said...

I'm in! I like the challenge of using up food creatively and the money saving aspect of it.

The Purloined Letter said...

I'm in, too. I've worked hard on this during the summers when we've always had an absolute glut of garden and CSA produce--but during the winter when our fridge is fairly empty and I'm not in food preservation mode, it seems I waste far more food. So this definitely needs a bit more concentration on my part!

Jenni at My Web of Life said...

I'm in!

This is one area of my family life that is not-so-green. I am ready to tackle this challenge.

Thanks Crunchy!

lindsey.hefner at gmail.com said...

In efforts to be more green, I would love to tackle this challenge.

Whether I need to make less food so that our leftovers don't go bad or be more creative with the food that is leftover, it will be done.

Tracy said...

Hi! I'm in! I'm going to be blogging what I do for the challenge and have invited my entire forum to join me.

FOO said...

I'm in, too! My fridge is always in pretty good shape, but I organized/cleaned out my freezer and our chickens were happy to get all the old bread I kept sticking in there. I'm excited about this challenge because it meshes well with another I'm following to commit to a food budget. I'm in there for $80/week (home and dining out) for our family of three. (We usually spend $100/week.) Since I organized the freezer I know I will have lots to pull from and today I only spent $76 for our week's food - and that includes food for a party we are hosting with 6 other adults (+kids). I'm excited!

carpediem said...

Me too! Count us in (my poor hubby) (we're already freezin' our buns, I can just imagine what he has to say about this)... LOL slow converts are the best, right? ;-)
Anyway, I *was* REALLY good at this before Christmas, but have since fallen off the wagon, so count me in!!! This is super.

Man, I need to start a blog. ;-)

anisaschell said...

My fam and I are in. This is something we've been working on for a year or more now... but the accountability always makes you tighten your belt, just that much more! Great challenge!

I htink someone already said it, but dogs will eat egg shells. Also if you have chickens, you can wash the egg shells and smash them up until they DON'T resemble egg shells at all anymore and give them back to the chickens as you would oyster shells. I've never done that, because I'm too paranoid my hens will want to eat their own eggs if they recognize the shells. But I've heard of it before. :)

AJ said...

The tip about juicing is one I want to start doing! Great Idea!

suggymom said...

Oh, my! It's as if my DH secretly called you and told you that I really needed this challenge! I get very carried away with buying healthy, local goodies and forget that 1) I don't know how to store them properly and 2) We can never eat that many turnips!

I'm in!

Emily said...

BRILLIANT! I'm all over this. Husbando is always all over me about throwing out food but couple this with his recent lay off and we need to save money as much waste - I can't believe the stats are that high! Who wants to throw away half their grocery money?

Laura said...

This is awesome! It's good for the environment, and good for our wallets!! I am totally in. That statistic about the amount of food wasted is just unimaginable... and yet when I think about all of the food I have let go to waste, maybe it's not so unimaginable.

I have just found your blog via the Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and I am really enjoying your point of view. Thank you so much for this post - I will be linking to the Food Waste Reduction Challenge on my own blog :)

Kshmom said...

I'm in. I buy and then don't use and really want to stop that!

Anonymous said...

Okay -- I have already wasted food but it was an accident! I threw my leftovers from last night into my bag this morning to take with me to work and the lid on my container of baked beans popped off in transit and spilled all over everything else I had put in there! The beans were the only thing that were a loss but I was so dissappointed as i really wanted to eat them!!

Anne said...

I read about the Food Waste Reduction Challenge on Globalmama.com and love the idea. Awhile ago I came up with ways to save fruits & veggies that I used to throw out routinely. For fruits, I have a bowl of fresh fruit every morning with melted cheese on toast. I make sure I use up the older fruit first. For veggies, I make veggie soup a couple of times a week by frying onions & mushrooms, adding boxed veggie broth, then throwing in whatever chopped up veggies I have -- using up the oldest ones first. I put the soup in a few containers & freeze some to make sure it doesn't go bad! I'm taking the challenge for the eggs, salsa, milk, and rice milk I throw out periodically. Thank you for this challenge!

Niecey said...

I'm in too. When I first read about this I thought to myself "we don't waste much food at all, I don't need this challenge". Sure, we eat leftovers and do our best to eat food before it spoils. But since reading this, it's been on the forefront of my mind, and I've started to notice wastage a lot more than before. Especially things like leftovers on our kids plates that get scooped into the trash after the meal. I've been trying to come up with ways to reduce that or creatively reuse it.

Anonymous said...

I'm already in, but now will try harder. One of the best ways to save money is to cut down on waste.

Have stale bread? Make bread crumbs. They taste better and are way cheaper than the store bought variety. Any "on the way out" veggies go into the soup.

Leah said...

I live in Vermont, so we enjoy a little green challenge. We also get charged by the bag for trash. So, I started a no-waste food effort about a year ago and have saved enormously. Here are the things I did:
- chickens. if you have any space at all, you can keep backyard chickens and they eat veggie waste and make eggs in return. it's wonderful!
- freeze now to eat later. beans, curry, bread, tomato sauce, so many foods can be frozen
- quickles. pickle veggies early and keep longer. cucumber, beets, carrots, celery- almost anything in an equal 1 part water 2 parts vinegar, and spices you like- lasts for weeks.
- portions, portions, portions. as someone who hates left-overs I have come to know how much pasta and rice our family of three can eat.
- soup. it's the best use of little amounts of veggies, beans, meats, etc. with homemade stock from those chicken bones, you've got the best cure. soup is the no-waste food.

I love the blog. Hope your mom is okay. Keep on keeping on.

holyvernacular said...

Add me in. I need help (and accountability).

jubileeyear said...

What a mess my household is in this regard.

Michele said...

I have never done a challenge before...this could be fun! I am a dietetic technician student and stay-at-home mom so this is right up my alley. I made bread from the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and it was wonderful tonight. Highly suggest you try it!

kb29 said...

I think I can manage this, even though what doesn't get eaten becomes food for the neighbors goats and chickens.

Jenn said...

I know I'm late, but I'm absolutely in this!

Amanda Nicole said...

Better late than never, I'm in!

neko said...

Okay, also better late than never. I am all in. I started this last week by actually eating everything I made. First time that has happened in a really long time! Thanks for the good idea, or kick start

Ami said...

I'm a little late to the party, but just last night as I was cooking dinner and tossing carrot bits that didn't shred well I thought, "What a waste." I'm also one who tends to buy more than I need and then watch it go bad when I don't end up using it. Being more conscious of this and working to reduce my food waste will help decrease my wastefulness and my grocery budget.

Thanks for hosting this!

Stephanie said...

I'm a latecomer, obviously, but this is an area I need to work on. With a little effort and attention, I should be able to get my food waste down to zero, since I live by myself and am not keeping track of others' food as well as my own. This should be a good nudge to keep me on track!

Christine said...

I am interested, though starting late. We put food scraps directly into the garden and that takes care of most food stuffs, except meat, bones, and grease. However, there must be ways to reduce the amount of food going bad, so comments thus far have been helpful for me.

Anonymous said...

2 very yummy ideas for stale bread: french toast and panade (a savory bread pudding). Bless the French!

I am surprised that composting is considered very wasteful. I live in a town that prides itself on being quite green (Oak Park, IL) and very few people I know compost.

This is a great challenge for Americans!

Greenjoycie said...

I'm down for this challenge. My husband's the cook in our house and he seems to NEED to cook every day, even though there's leftovers there. It WILL be a challenge but I think letting the family know about it will help. Thanks for doing this!

Kellie said...

Awesome - This is one of our big goals for '09, so I've been posting "leftover suprise" concoctions on my blog already this month. I was thrilled to see this challenge, so count me in!

Brenna said...

Great challenge! The adults in this house do pretty well, as do 2 of 3 kidlets. Of course, I am sure we can do better.

What to do about the middle picky one though? This has been a bone of contention in this house for months now. The food waste is one of my husband's biggest pet peeves...

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