As I mentioned yesterday, we are eating much more produce this year than we ever have in the past. Sometimes I look at the changes in our eating habits around the home and think, Oh no! We are suffering from lifestyle inflation, but then I realize that we were living well under our means for so long, and nutritionally, it wasn’t the best way to live so although we are spending more on healthy food, in the long term, it’s better for our family.
But with all the produce we buy, and all that we eat, there is still way too much that goes to waste! We really try to cook everything we buy, and we have certainly learned what kind of portions we can handle, but we still have things that expire in the fridge before we can get to them, just because we forget they are in there. We have the regular fridge area, which nothing really ever expires in, but the crisper we have where all the good fruits and veggies rest is out of sight, and we often forget what we put in there.
I decided the only way that we would be able to stop wasting food that we forget about in the crisper is to remember everything we buy and when we buy it. We have been trying to do this for years and, well, we just can’t mentally remember everything especially as our lives get busier and busier. So I decided we needed a visual reminder somewhere that could tell us exactly what we have in the fridge, when we bought it and when it will be going bad.
I thought about putting a notepad on the fridge and writing the date of purchase and expiration date on everything we put in the fridge, but I know that would be too much work and we would quickly grow tired of doing it, slip back into our old system of trying to mentally remember everything, and start wasting food again.
So instead of doing something complicated that would require a ton of effort to maintain, I thought I would use a method that we use to teach our kids, to make it much simpler with a color coded system that was small, not ugly as my wife doesn’t want the fridge covered with a huge calendar or notepad, and would be fairly effortless to keep up. We already do something similar with our bulk foods so I know it works well in the long term, but this is the first time we are applying it to short term habits.
Here’s what I came up with:
There are three different squares, one green, one purple and one red. The green one is for produce that we just put in the fridge. Every time we buy more produce, which is about once a week, we shift what was on the green square to the purple square, and from the purple square to the red square. That means we will know what the oldest produce is at all times, and be able to focus our diet on eating that food before it goes to waste.
If we get really good at using the system and optimizing our eating habits around the oldest produce, we should ideally be able to eat all the food on the red square, before we buy any new produce. There are also some food items, that we can see just by looking at the squares, that wouldn’t need to be moved from square to square as they either are eaten up around here very quickly when we know we have them, or they last longer than other produce.
Do you have any tricks to insure you don’t waste food at home?
Image by moon angel