Have Too Much Food In Your House?

On Saturday night our family ate the most delicious apple/pear crumble.

It wasn’t traditional (we ran out of brown sugar and cinnamon), and if I’d been my normal organized self over the last couple of weeks I would have thrown out the wrinkly apples and over-ripe pears that had sat in my fridge for weeks!

Fortunately, my husband decided to see if they could be rescued, and we had a very yummy end result!

The same day, Mike had shared an interesting piece of trivia with my daughter and I. He said that according to some new research, in Canada, we discard as much food as we consume as a nation. I have no reason to believe that Canada is particularly special in this way. 

It was kind of shocking to think about, but I can see how it happens. When we consider what great consumers we are overall, is food is really any different than clothing or other things? And maybe it’s even more tricky because we all have to eat!

I also know how easy it is to over shop without even giving it much thought. Where I can be really prepared to only buy one book or one shirt, it is so easy to throw in a few extra things to my grocery basket without thinking about it. 

This also happens way too often…we forget what we actually need so we buy it “just in case” – like more granola bars or extra peanut butter. Pantry items are probably the worst for this (but something can end up at the back of the fridge this way too). Because we can only see what is at the front, we lose track of the things at the back and end up buying them again…and again…and again!

Have you ever noticed this?

I don’t always do a good job of recognizing what my family can actually eat in a week. I plan for us to eat at home every night, but then life takes over and we eat grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner one night, and suddenly that package of salad mix or the chicken is no longer good to eat.

There is another culprit. I (and maybe you) am really quick to throw out things when I think they “might” not be good anymore. Or maybe the “best before” date has just passed so I throw the thing out just to be sure.

But the crumble was a great reminder that maybe I don’t need to be quite as quick to discard the things in my fridge.

Once we got to work, in about 15 minutes we had cut them all up and turned them into a delicious apple/pear crumble. And in the end the pears (which I was pretty sure would be disgusting) were the hit of the evening! While some went into the crumble, the rest were relished by the whole family!

What is the moral of the story?

It is really easy to over buy AND it is possible to stop doing things this way.

 

{Related post: Simplify and Figure Out When to Say NO!}

 

Here are 4 things you can do to simplify/minimize your pantry.

 

1) Take stock of what you have. Take everything out of your pantry, cupboards and shelves. Wash and dry the shelves. Check expiry dates. While I’m not suggesting you should throw everything out, if you find a jar of clams with a date of 2011, it is time to toss! If there are things with a newer expiry that you know you and your family won’t eat, give them to friends or donate to your local food bank. Maybe someone out there would enjoy that can of beans you never seem to get to. Do this with your fridge and freezer too so you really know what’s there!

2) Make a meal plan. Now that you’ve gone through to find out what is there, plan some meals for the next week using as many of the things you already own. Maybe one meal is centered around that Asian sauce in the fridge, the next the perogies you found at the bottom of the freezer. At my house we only plan dinner because that is the hardest to come up with things, but you can also do lunch or breakfast. Make it a game to see how many interesting meals you can come up with using only the things in your pantry, fridge and freezer!

3) Shop with a list! This is a tip that most of you have heard before. If you shop with a list (and at a time when you’re not hungry), you’re way more likely to only buy the things you really need. At our house we use a shared App called “Google Keep” which allows me to add something to the grocery list and it shows up on Mike’s phone – it’s kind of like a miracle because we don’t have to keep track of a physical list!

4) Consider a grocery shopping pause. Discover that your house has a whole lot of food in it? What would happen if there was a power outage? How much food would be lost? How much money? What if you ate it instead (see above for tips)? How long could you go without buying anything at all? How long without buying anything but fresh stuff (like milk, eggs and produce)? Maybe consider a personal challenge!

5) Use up those old apples and pears (or berry/tree fruit) you have! Here’s the recipe I used for my crumble. 

 

Enjoy and let me know in the comments below which of these tips most spoke to you!

 

 


 

 

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