In even the most organized of kitchens, there will be waste. Spills, failed recipes and other mishaps will add to food costs. It cannot be helped because accidents do happen. At the same time, a lot of waste can be avoided and a lot of unnecessary costs do not have to be suffered. It just takes a bit of planning and organization and a consistent approach to kitchen management. Here are five things you can do to help limit your kitchen waste.
Know Your Customers: If you are cooking for a family of four and only two of the four actually enjoy a particular food, don’t buy that particular food and assume that all four will eat it. Whether the food is spinach or steak, you cannot hope to change food preferences just by putting the food on the table. Trying to do so will only result in waste.
Organize Your Food Storage Areas: Working in retail when I was *much* younger, I learned to front and face the store shelves every night. When stocking the shelves, older product was moved to the edge of the shelf and new product was placed behind it. You need to do the same in your pantry. Make sure the older products are more accessible than the new products. It is fine to stock up on an item, but if you do not make sure that the oldest product is used first, you will find that the old products just get pushed to the back of the shelf until they are too old to be eaten.
Date Your Frozen Foods and Your Bulk Items Whatever goes into your freezer should be dated and you need to pay attention to the dates. Pick a day of the week to build a meal around the oldest items in your freezer. Make sure that your meats are used before they are mistaken for frozen mammoth emerging from the ice! The same is true with flour, cornmeal and other grains. Keep them dated and use them before they exceed their useful life.
Force Variety on Your Household: There are few things that are essential in a kitchen. Milk, eggs, juice and a few other staples might be needed almost every day but if you have a well stocked kitchen there are usually viable substitutes for most things. Allow your kitchen to run out of a few items before you head to the store. If your kids are looking for orange juice but you know that you have had apple juice and cranberry juice in your pantry for a couple of weeks, bring out the alternate juices and let the kids finish off a bottle or two before you head off to buy more OJ.
Ensure a Good Seal: Potato chips, cereals, meals, flours, sugar and a bunch of other products tend to be packaged in bags that will not seal well, if at all. If you do not seal those products, they will get stale or become bug infested. I buy plastic clothes pins to seal up chip and cereal bags. Flour, sugar and similar products are stored in easy to seal plastic bags. A good seal extends the shelf life and helps to ensure that there are fewer spills to clean up.
How do you avoid waste in the kitchen?