Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Priority #4 - My Home - The Leftover Challenge

Over the past couple of years, we have gradually increased the amount of food we buy organically.  While on a microcellular level it may be improving our health, it is not improving our budget.  The downside of buying food without preservatives is that they have no preservatives.  They spoil quickly and that is just money in the trash can.  I have tried to come up with some ideas for kitchen loss prevention.

Retail loss prevention is a set of practices employed by retail companies to preserve profit. Profit preservation is any business activity specifically designed to reduce preventable losses. A preventable loss is any business cost caused by deliberate or inadvertent human actions, colloquially known as "shrinkage".  

As an effective home manager, I need reduce these preventable losses by any means.  Here are some of my ideas.

COOK LESS:  With The Grand Duchess in her own apartment, there are only four of us at home now.  I look for recipes that serve 4-6 people.  Although cooking less at one meal may mean that I have to cook more times in a week, it also reduces food boredom so leftovers don't just sit in the refrigerator because we're tired of eating them.  If I make a recipe that serves 6, whatever is leftover goes into Friend Hubby's Pyrex lunch dish for the next day.  If 4 servings doesn't seem like it will be enough food, then I try to stretch the meal with more vegetables, cornbread, or a salad.  

SHOP MORE FREQUENTLY FOR FRESH FOOD:  When I lived in Europe, none of my neighbors had a refrigerator as large as my military issue American fridge.  Theirs were the size of the mini-fridges we send our kids to college with.  Every day I saw them get off the buses, walk to the corner market, and head home with just one or two small bags of food.  A trip to Costco will show you the differences in our culture.  Many of us have not just one refrigerator, but either a second one or a freezer as well.  It's great in the winter not to have to leave the house for much of anything, but unfortunately, forgetting what's in the freezer can result in freezer burned food that no one wants to eat.  Here are a couple of ideas to help you with inventory.
Put a chalkboard on the freezer.  

Put a wipe-off board near the freezer.

There is one store in particular where I like to buy the majority of my produce.  Since I am as of yet a very poor gardener, I refer to this store as my backyard garden.  Rather than buying a lot of produce when I get paid, I just go to the store when I need it so I can get the freshest produce and know that I am going to use what I buy right away.  I don't buy ALL my produce organic.  I have an app on my phone to remind me which fruits and vegetables are on the "Dirty Dozen" list and which are on the "Clean 15" list by Environmental Working Group.

If you are afraid that you're going to run out of money before you're able to buy produce again, then factor a store gift card into your produce budget, that way you've put that money aside and it's not going to get spent on something else.

Here is a chart to help you know how long you can safely keep food.

An chart of the shelf life of fruit and vegetables. 

FIFO is an acronym which most commonly stands for first in first out. 

Friend Hubby is a stickler for this.  No boxes of cereal get opened before the first box gets eaten.  The pantry shelves are stocked so that the oldest jar of spaghetti sauce or can of baked beans gets used first.  In addition, fresh vegetables get cooked before frozen vegetables do.

MUST-GOs:  Fridays are for MUST-GOs.  What are MUST-GOs?  Everything in the refrigerator MUST GO.  From one Friday to the next, we keep track of what has been put into the refrigerator.  Most of it is still within the 3-4 day safe period so those get eaten before Shabbat meal is cooked.  This is a good habit and helps to prevent science experiments from reproducing in your refrigerator.

CRYSTAL CLEAR:   I missed out on these bowls at Costco last year. I have been disappointed about it all year. They are back today and I pounced on them. I am tired of having to put the whole crock pot in the refrigerator because I don't have anything else big enough to store leftovers in. I also feel that having translucent dishes will help us not to throw away food because no one knows what's in there and how long it's been there. We've got a big meal coming up and we're not going to want our leftovers to taste like the aluminum pans. Plus, $15 for 8-piece Pyrex is a deal.

I hope you save tons of money with these ideas!  


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