Eat fresh foods in order that they go bad. For fruits, start with berries, then peaches, plums, etc. Next, consume harder fruits like apples and pears. Citrus, kept refrigerated, will keep for several weeks.
Eat them while they’re fresh! Keep a bowl of artfully arranged, pre-washed apples and pears on your dining room table as a centerpiece, or in the kitchen where you will reach for it before you get to the junk food.
Wait to wash delicate berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries until just before serving, as they tend to get mushy. Most other fruits can be pre-washed for convenience. *Even produce from which you peel or cut away the rind/skin should be washed, as contaminants can transfer to the knife and then to the edible portion.
Keep ripe and unripe fruits separate.
Maintain a container of veggie peels and tips/end in your freezer. When it’s full, boil in a pot of water to make homemade vegetable stock. Strain and freeze stock or make soup!
When you have time, wash and cut up veggies in snack-size portions. Be sure they are dry again before covering in an airtight container and returning to refrigerator.
Don’t let those beautiful greens wilt away in your produce drawer. When you make a salad, make an extra and pack it up for lunch the next day! Leave the dressing off until just before serving.
Stretch your meats. Americans are guiltier than any other nation of focusing a meal around a huge chunk of meat. Take a cue from other cuisines and consider meat as more of an “ingredient” than a main course. Try a new recipe for an Asian stir-fry or a chicken curry, or take a cue from past frugal housewives and cook up a big pot of soup, stew, or a casserole.
When planning your menu, plan dishes that will help you make the most of the meat you cook. For instance, serve a roast chicken one night, some chicken sandwiches for lunch the next day, and cube and freeze some for a future meal. Make stock from the bones and freeze or make soup. Cook a beef roast and serve the leftovers with gravy and egg noodles, or as steak and eggs for breakfast!
Try to prepare at least one meatless dinner (pizza doesn’t count) per week – if not for the animals, then at least for your pocketbook.
Stale or soft baked goods such as crackers, cookies, and cereals can be rejuvenated with a quick pop into a warm oven on a cookie sheet.
Make sure to tie up bags and close up boxes to keep baked goods fresh longer. Keep out of direct light or heat.
DRY & CANNED GOODS
Keep an eye on expiration dates. Write them on the lid with a Sharpie so you won’t miss them.
Rotate food as you put it away so that the newest food is at the back of the cabinets.
Make sure goods are re-sealed after opening. Transfer foods to airtight containers such as “tupperwares” or clean glass jars. Consider buying bulk (loose) goods to reduce unnecessary packaging.
Buy foods you know you will eat. This sounds simple enough, but I know I have items in my cupboard that I bought either on impulse or with the best of intentions, which have been sitting there for longer than I’d care to admit.
Whatever’s left, as long as it’s not rancid, pass it along! Donate unexpired dry and canned goods to your local food bank or shelter. Contact them to see what they need, and I emphasize again, be sure it has not expired. Feed stale bread as well as fruit to the birds at the park (my son loves this. Chop up leftover meat and veggies like cooked carrots and peas – even rice – and add to your dog’s or cat’s bowl for a special treat (caution: do not feed pets onions or raisins.) Send your cast-off produce, coffee grounds, and tea bags to the compost pile.