Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Keep Good Food from Going Bad #GladFreshFoodChallenge

With Thanksgiving just passed, this is a great time to talk about leftovers and (not) wasting good food. If your celebration was anything like mine, whether large or small, it involved a whole lot of cooking and baking and eating. And possibly a fair bit of food gone to waste. Did it just seem easier to toss the rest of the potatoes? Or maybe you didn't get the turkey carcass in the fridge within a reasonably salmonella-free time frame. Whatever the case, Thanksgiving dinner usually ends with a lot of leftovers because we tend to make too much. But, if we take care to store everything promptly and safely afterwards, those tasty remains can be re-purposed into tomorrow's lunch or Wednesday night's supper. (for instance, check out these tasty ideas for leftover turkey.) But even on a regular day, a lot of food goes to waste.

Did you know that the typical Canadian household spends $5572 per year on groceries, including $465 per year on fresh fruits and vegetables? And on average, 13% of all food gets thrown out. That's about $725 worth of food in the garbage each year! These little tidbits were shared with me by Glad, as part of the #GladFreshFoodChallenge this month. Here's some more info:

safe food storage, Glad
Click to enlarge

Glad sent along a package of their food storage products, along with a challenge to me to waste no food for two whole weeks, October 1-15. Of course, I am always up for a challenge, so I dove right in.
Glad food storage
 Some of the line of Glad's food storage solutions, posing with seasonal decor.
The first step? Planning. My big downfall is heading to the supermarket without a list, or without a solid meal plan for the week. "Ooh! Look what's on sale!" And suddenly I have way more veggies than we can reasonably consume before they go bad. It may mean more trips to the store, but buying smaller amounts of fresh produce at a time results in less of your purchases (and money!) going into the green bin.

Next, think storage. I like to buy certain things, like chicken breasts, in larger quantities. The "family pack" size is often cheaper per pound than a smaller package. But I won't be cooking them all at once, so I re-package when I get home, using Glad freezer bags. Three or four breasts per bag, pop in the freezer, and I can grab a perfect portion for my family when I need. I do this with ground beef too. Steaks on sale? Pick up some extra and wrap them individually in Glad Press'n Seal to avoid freezer burn. In general, if you want your meats to taste great after a stay in your deep freeze, be sure to re-package them appropriately; the supermarket packaging doesn't always stave off the burn.

Leftovers happen, even with great planning. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just be sure to get them wrapped, bagged or boxed promptly and into the fridge or freezer. There were only our of us for Thanksgiving here, and I made two pies. Yes, I know. But first I promised pumpkin pie, and then we went apple picking. What could I do?! The remains of both pies are currently in my fridge, carefully protected by Glad Cling Wrap - keeping out any odours they could pick up, and keeping in the freshness and moisture. I portioned out the leftover turkey and froze it in the freezer bags, ready to be defrosted and added to soup, quesadillas, or whatever. Wrap leftover steak, then slice and add to a green salad or a healthy and protein-rich lunch the next day. Mashed potatoes can be formed and fried into delicious patties for a side to accompany a later dinner. The key is to safely store the leftovers and then get creative! You can even designate one night each week as"Leftover Night," and make a conscious effort to work through what you have on hand to make sure it doesn't go to waste.

How did I do with the challenge? Well, not perfect, but pretty good. I had a bunch of tomatoes from my garden that I should have canned, but I got busy and left it too long. So they went to waste.  And there was quite a bit of leftover pasta that found its way to the bin as well. (Boo eats a lot of pasta, and we tend to have at least one container of cooked pasta in the fridge at any given time.) I did stay conscious of what I was buying, and I made sure I had an imminent purpose for each fresh item that went in my cart. And I even froze my over-ripe bananas, as suggested in the infographic up there. Banana bread coming soon!

With a little planning and the right tools, you can save a lot of money over the course of a year and really get a bang for your grocery buck. Do you have any tips for food storage? Or a great way to use up leftovers in a new meal? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

Disclosure: This post has been brought to you by Glad. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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