Tag Archives: #nationalnutritionmonth

36 Tips to Waste Less Food and Save More Money

I have a confession to make. I throw away perfectly good food on a regular basis, in spite of being raised by a mom who used up all the food because waste was not an option.

It doesn’t make me feel any better to know that I am not alone in my food management problem. The U.S. squanders about 30% of the food available to eat, and most of it is tossed at home.

March is National Nutrition Month, and I am pleased to see that this year’s theme, Go Further with Food, is as much about minimizing food waste as it is about maximizing good nutrition.  Trashing edible food drives up prices and makes it less affordable to those with reduced financial resources, who miss out on nutrients. Even if you have enough cash, tossing food is throwing money away. On average, a family of four wastes up to $2,200.00-worth of food every year.

Food waste is also bad for the environment.

If food waste was a country, it would be the planet’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, right behind China and the United States. Food is the single largest component of trash in landfills, where it produces methane, a global-warming gas. Throwing food away also squanders the resources that went into producing, processing, packaging, and transporting it. For example, 25% of all freshwater in the U.S. is used to produce food that we never eat.

How to minimize food waste

Managing food wisely takes time and creativity. The amount of food tossed in my household is directly related to my level of motivation to manage it, which includes planning meals, shopping, and using up leftovers. The busier I get, the more food I throw away.

We can’t save and eat all the food that’s slated for the trash heap, but I think it’s safe to say that there’s room for improvement.  I asked my dietitian colleagues for their best food-saving tips, and I divided their advice, and my own suggestions, into three levels of difficulty. Let’s face it: managing food is hard, so pick the tips that best fit your lifestyle.

Simple tips to save food and money

  • “Before going to the grocery store, look in the fridge and cabinets to see what you have, and what needs to be used up first. If there is something that I know I won’t eat before it goes bad, into the freezer it goes (either cooked or not, depending on the food). Then I use what’s in the freezer when I’m planning my meals.” – Kaleigh McMordie

 

  • “You don’t need a complicated recipe to make a meal, snack or side dish. Take a look at what you have, and be confident. Most leftovers combine nicely for a soup, casserole or stir-fry.”- Pat Baird

  • Choose smaller plates and glasses.  Dietitians have been touting this advice for decades, but it’s not usually framed around food waste.  A smaller plate helps encourage proper portions and reduces overeating.  Overeating is technically a form of food waste, because we are consuming more food than our bodies need. This form of food waste can lead to chronic diseases, too. – Chris Vogliano

 

 

  • Place foods that spoil quickly within sight so that you eat them first. Wash fresh produce like lettuce and berries just before eating to keep it from spoiling. Store fruits and veggies in separate crisper drawers.

  • “Use fresh produce in smoothies. I keep bulk Greek yogurt in the fridge and make smoothies as a grab & go breakfast.” – Mary Emerson

 

  • Freeze fresh ripe fruit that’s about to go bad, such as berries, peaches (pit and slice first), and sliced bananas for smoothies, smoothie bowls, and delicious frozen fruit desserts, like  Chocolate Peanut Butter “Ice Cream.”

 

  • Purchase plain frozen fruits and vegetables. That way, you will use only what you need at the time and minimize waste.

 

  • Embrace imperfection. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables with odd shapes, sizes, or colors. They taste the same, but so-­called ugly fruits and vegetables often get tossed by grocery stores because they don’t sell. Slightly bruised produce is OK to eat if you cut away the damaged area, but avoid produce with any cuts.

 

  • Set your refrigerator between 35 ̊F and 40 ̊F, and your freezer at 0 ̊F or below, to keep food fresher for longer. Stuffing the refrigerator and freezer reduces cooling efficiency and speeds up food spoilage.

  • After grocery shopping, get perishables into the fridge or freezer ASAP. If you’re making stops before heading home from the super­ market, bring a cooler bag with you in the car for dairy, meat, and produce.

 

  • Avoid resealing fresh fruits and vegetables in airtight plastic storage bags or containers because they trap moisture that promotes faster decay. Purchase perforated plastic bags for produce or make your own by poking tiny holes in resealable plastic bags.

 

  • “Write the date a food was opened when you open a container of shelf stable food like broth or canned beans to avoid having to guess whether it’s still good or not when you can’t remember how long it’s been in the fridge.” – Courtney Stinson

 

  • “Consider a meal delivery service. I found food waste challenging when we went from a family of three to a family of two. Using the Hello Fresh for a few meals a week is helpful. We get just the right amount of ingredients and the meals-for-two are actually dinner-for-two and lunch-for-one. I buy frozen protein (mostly fish and chicken) and take out only enough for what we will eat, add a microwavable frozen veggie pack and the brown rice bowls they sell at Costco. I would have to say that cooking for two is a challenge because many recipes aren’t easily cut in half. I recognize that buying a lot at a cheaper per unit price isn’t cheaper if it goes bad, so I am okay with buying smaller quantities of food at a higher per unit price.” – Shelley Real

See what happened when Dana Angelo White challenged herself to reduce her family’s food waste

Next-level tips to save food and money

  • Plan meals and snacks for at least five days of the week and shop for the ingredients. Meal planning helps to save money and food waste, and prepping meals on the weekend saves time Monday through Friday.

  • “Reorganize your fridge. Crisper drawers actually have a purpose! Reconsidering how you organize your fridge can keep your food fresh longer by reducing spoilage.  This will save you money while fighting food waste.  Check out this fridge storage infographic for more information.– Chris Vogliano

 

  • “I cook vegetables within a day or two of purchase and refrigerate them in airtight container if I know I will not be eating them that day. This allows me to get to them before they have a chance to wilt in the fridge.” – Barbara Baron

 

  • Know what the dates mean. You may pitch food because you want to eat only the freshest and safest items, but throwing away perfectly good items contributes mightily to food waste. Some of the dates on food packages are more about quality than anything. “Sell by” dates are used for fresh, perishable foods, such as meats and dairy products. It’s the last possible day the store can sell the product, and it’s a date you should take seriously for safety’s sake. However, if the date passes while you have the product at home, the food should still be safe if handled properly. The “Use By” and “Best If Used By” dates have more wiggle room, as they refer to perceived food quality, not food safety. For example, the “best if used by” is the last date recommended for the customer’s use of a product at its peak quality. To see how long food is still good past these dates, visit stilltasty.com.

 

  • “Have a family fix it yourself leftovers night. We do this when we’re too lazy or tired to assemble a whole meal. We try to eat all the leftover food and what that is close to expiring. Nobody eats the same thing, but we can still usually each find a pretty balanced meal.” – Courtney Stinson

  • “I use extra vegetables and grains to make pasta dishes and rice bowls.” – Rebecca Clyde

 

  • “When I’m feeling ambitious, I portion out foods like fruit, veggies, beans, and grains into see-through containers, typically in ½-cup or 1-cup portions. That way, instead of the blueberries getting accidentally pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten, someone can easily grab a portion to throw on top of cereal, or easily grab grains, beans, and greens for a broth.” -Wendy Kaplan

 

  • “Build a layered vegetable salad in order of the food’s ability to withstand moisture, and it’ll keep in your refrigerator longer. Starting at the bottom of the bowl, use sturdy vegetables like peppers and carrots. Then use vegetables that can withstand some moisture, like mushrooms and beans. Follow with a layer of whole grains. Finish with a top layer of herbs and lettuce. Add dressing on individual plates, right before serving.” – Tamar Rothenberg

Here’s how to makeover your leftovers

Cook more to curb food waste

  • “I keep a bag of vegetable scraps in my freezer to make stock. When I get enough, I toss the vegetables in with bones and cook overnight.” –Wendy Jo Peterson

  • “I’m loving the new food trend of eating root-to-stem! For example, if you’re a fan of broccoli, there’s no need to throw out the leaves and the stem. You can sauté the leaves, which tastes similar to kale, and turn the stem into broccoli rice in the food processor.”  – Jessica Spiro 

 

  • Use ice cube trays to preserve leftover wine, remaining tomato paste, milk, yogurt, and 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and use in recipes later.

Check out Jessica Elyse’s ways to reduce food waste.

  • “ While it doesn’t completely eliminate food waste, you can use up parts of veggies you wouldn’t normally eat, or veggies that have lost their texture (ex: softened carrots) by making your own vegetable broth. You can be extra eco-friendly by composting the veggie scraps after you’ve gotten flavor and nutrients out of them.” – Kelly Jones

 

 

  • Make food fresh again. Perk up wilted kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens by placing them in ice water for 30 minutes. Cook and eat or freeze. To freshen up nuts, toast them on a baking sheet in a 350 ̊F oven for 10 minutes.

  • “I make an Egg Bake with my leftover food–nearly anything can be mixed with eggs, some onions and a little cheese (even cottage cheese–one of my favorites).” – Kitty Broihier

 

  • “Don’t throw away the liquid from the can of beans! This “aquafaba” makes an excellent vegan egg alternative for baked goods (it makes the fudgiest box brownies ever) and can be used to make vegan mayo. Here’s one example of how to use it in these sweet potato fritters with aquafaba aioli!” -Chrissy Carroll

 

  • “Search for recipes based on what you need to use up. I had a half can of pumpkin and a half can of coconut milk so I googled “pumpkin coconut milk muffins.” You are bound to find something to try! Also, when I realize I made too much of something, I’ll find a friend or neighbor to share it with. -Kacie Barnes

Cooking Down: Minimize Waste and Make Easy Real Food

 

  • “Dry fruits and vegetables in the oven or a dehydrator. Purée veggies and tomatoes for marinara sauce. Make soup. Make croutons with extra bread.” -Aimee Sarchet

 

  • “I evaluate the fridge before going to the store each Sunday and make a combination meal that can include several leftovers, like a frittata featuring leftover veggies and cheese; a grain salad for lunches with leftover cooked whole grains, salad greens, leftover veggies and meat; or a soup. I also always freeze leftover canned goods.”‪ – Jessica Ivey

A year of less food waste by Moms Kitchen Handbook

  • “I have several ideas in this (free) PowerPoint and accompanying handout. The photo of “Clean the Fridge Chopped Salad” is one of my favorites, because, you just take bite-size odds and ends of whatever is in your fridge and would go well with each other (veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, meat, etc.); mix them together and add your favorite salad dressing! -Alice Henneman

    Judy Barbe’s Roasted Cauliflower Fettucini 

Kara Lydon Evancho has compiled 25 delicious, creative recipes to use up leftovers. 

When it’s OK to throw food away

You shouldn’t eat every food in the name of frugality. Never freeze, cook, or eat any food that smells funny to you. For safety’s sake, toss the following:

  • Odd­-smelling food
  • Food left out for more than two hours, or one hour if the air temperature is 90 ̊F or above
  • If the power has been out for at least four hours and you haven’t opened the refrigerator
  • or freezer; sooner if you have (raw animal foods, dairy, and leftovers should all be tossed)
  • If cans have rusted or they’re leaking, deeply dented, or bulging
  • Moldy food (except for cheese; you can cut that part away)

What are your favorite ways to curb food waste?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Better Ways to Weight Loss

Just thinking about what to eat for for weight loss can be overwhelming. These three no-brainer tweaks to your eating plan can get you off the diet rollercoaster for good starting at your very next meal, and without any deprivation.

Peanut Butter, Raspberry, and Oats Smoothie Bowl from Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy.

 

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast serves up an opportunity to include the nutrients you need. The energy it provides jump-starts the body and brain after sleep.

I talk here about how studies suggest that eating the morning meal does not guarantee better weight control, so it may seem like I am contradicting myself by recommending breakfast.

Yes, the research about breakfast and weight loss is inconclusive. But in my experience, people skip breakfast because they’re not hungry in the morning, and they’re not hungry in the morning because they ate too much before going to bed. Eating more regularly throughout the day, starting in the morning, may prevent overeating at night and could decrease your calorie intake overall.

Many people don’t like traditional “breakfast” foods. No problem. As long as it contains enough protein, found in foods such as dairy, eggs, and beans, and it’s otherwise nutritious and balanced, it’s breakfast! It’s OK to divide breakfast up into two smaller meals, too.

Make the Change to Whole Grains

I recently wrote about a new study that showed swapping whole grains for the refined kinds burns calories and boosts metabolism.  What a gift! You eat delicious whole grains, and you burn calories!

This No-Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Quick Bread is packed with whole grains and nuts. Get the recipe here.

 

Give the change to whole grains a try.  Instead of white bread, have whole wheat. Enjoy oatmeal for breakfast and pass over the white bread bagel and cream cheese. Experiment with  whole grains such as freekeh or farro instead of white pasta or rice at dinner. Easy peasy!

Snack on Nuts

Studies show that nuts have fewer calories than what’s on the label. That’s a good reason to make them your snack of choice.

Research has found that whole roasted almonds have 25% fewer calories than what is listed on food labels; walnuts supply 21% fewer calories; and pistachios also contain fewer calories than what the label says.  It stands to reason the same goes for peanuts, too.

One ounce of nuts is an excellent substitution for the same amount of snack chips, pretzels or chocolate. In addition to fewer calories, nuts provide more protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, powerful plant compounds that protect your cells, as well as heart-healthy fat.

 

 

Dietitians’ Eating Downfalls

For the most part, dietitians practice what they preach. However, nobody eats perfectly all the time, not even the experts dishing out dietary advice, including yours truly. (Shocker!) Since perfection is not the point of this blog, I thought it would be worth hearing from dietitians about their food challenges, since they love to eat and are just as busy as everyone else.  While I have my own major dietary downfall (it’s at the end of this post), I can relate to each and every one of these!

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Kate Scarlata, RDN, FODMAP and IBS Expert: 

I wish I had a few less potato chips in my life! I love a good potato chip. Those salty little fried potato slices are so darn good and somehow make their way onto my plate on a very regular basis, especially when I am eating a sandwich. I don’t feel I have to give up all the chips in my life, but I know fried salty foods are probably not the best for my heart health. I do try to switch it up and add popcorn, baked tortilla chips or reduced fat potato chips to reduce my fat intake in an effort to be a little more healthy. Because I associate chips with eating sandwiches, I find I am less inclined to eat them when I have a salad or leftovers at meal time, so including these other meals helps lower my chip intake too.  My 90 year-old mom loved a good potato chip…so I am hopeful that I can enjoy a long life while still enjoying my beloved potato chips…at least occasionally!

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Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of www.NutritionStarringYOU.com:

I’m the fastest eater. I’m always leaning over my counter quickly eating between clients or before driving my kids around in the evening. I’m not a mindful eater and I know it’s something I really need to improve. Much easier said than done for a very busy working mom. However, I am trying to eat at the table more, put away my phone and avoid distractions. Small changes are my goal. I’m really trying to practice what I preach to my clients every day!

Six Things You Don’t Know About Registered Dietitians

Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, owner of Active Eating Advice by Leslie

Having spent the better part of my career counseling athletes, I am the first one to say that hydration never takes a vacation. But what we preach doesn’t always translate to for what we reach and I admit -I don’t get a perfect score for my pour. I am doing a lot of writing these days and don’t work up a sweat, hate to be interrupted when ideas are flowing to have to get going to the bathroom I am committing to hydrating better throughout the day through the number of glasses of liquid, liquid-containing foods, and more fruits and vegetables.

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Regan Jones, RD, Founding Editor at HealthyAperture.com:

In the last year or so I noticed that my “one” glass of wine while cooking dinner turned into one glass while cooking, then topping it off a little if the recipe takes a little longer and then topping that off as I went to the table to eat dinner with my family. I’m a dietitian, not a mathematician but even I know my “one” has quickly turned into 1++.

I’ve made a concerted effort this year to let “one” glass be one glass. While health experts (and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans) agree that one glass for women and two for men can be a part of a healthy diet, night after night of letting that number nudge higher and higher means extra calories that I simply don’t need at the end of every day. I started the New Year with this new commitment to cut back on my 1++ glass of wine and have already noticed improvements in sleep… a bonus I wasn’t expecting, but am definitely enjoying!

Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, Culinary Nutrition Expert and founder of Nutritioulicious:

One of my worst habits is eating in front of the TV, especially at night after dinner. I have a major sweet tooth, and when I’m busy during the day it doesn’t hit me, but as soon as I sit down to relax the pantry calls my name! It’s a common habit for many people and it can lead to weight gain if I’m taking in more calories than I’m burning that day, but even more of a concern is that it leaves me feeling full before bed, which can interfere with my sleep, and I often wake up bloated and less hungry for breakfast, which is such an important meal to start the day. Some of the ways I’m trying to break the habit are to brush my teeth after dinner so I am not tempted to eat again and watch TV in bed instead of in my living room. I also don’t keep the pantry fully stocked with treats.

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Jenna Braddock, MSH, RDN, CSSD, owner of MakeHealthyEasy.com:  

I love making chocolate chip cookies but am that person who could be fine just eating the dough. I often nibble on dough while making and baking cookies and by the time the cookies are out of the oven, I’ve already eaten the equivalent of my share of cookies. After thinking this through (also after a belly ache or two), I have decided that I do love the cookies the most. So, I try to talk myself before even starting the cookie making process to remind me that I really want to be able to enjoy the warm, baked cookies, and the dough isn’t at worth it. I want to be more conscious of what I’m eating while making cookies instead of mindlessly picking at the dough.

5 Confessions of a Dietitian

Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE, The Guilt-Free RD, www.SoundBitesRD.com (blog and podcast):

I wish I had better breakfast habits. I grew up eating a healthy breakfast every day, but now that I’m a mom, I’m more focused on the morning rush instead of feeding myself. I find I’m not very hungry and tend to grab a little something that is more of a snack or a treat than “breakfast” like a cookie or a piece of fruit. I wish I could enjoy a greek yogurt with high fiber cereal and berries – something that provides the fiber, calcium and nutrients I need to start the day off right.

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Christy Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Counselor, Writer, Consultant, and Owner of ChristyWilsonNutrition.com:

After work, I am famished, so that after-work/before-dinner time frame is my Achilles heel! I will end up rummaging through my fridge and pantry for things to snack on, whether it’s something healthy or not. Sometimes way too many chips and salsa, a few too many cheese sticks or leftover slices of pizza satisfy my craving. So, even knowing that eating all of this food before dinner is ruining my appetite for the healthy meal I am about to cook…sometimes I just can’t help myself. To avoid this, I’m working on planning ahead and (more consistently) have foods like jicama sticks, sliced fruit  and/or red pepper strips available to snack on before dinner gets started!

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Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD, Co-owner Teaspoon of Spice

When I worked in an office building, I was the poster child of staying hydrated via water daily. I’d take several breaks from my cubicle to fill my water bottle up at the water cooler (cliche but true.) But now, since working at home, I struggle to do the same! My home office is on the second floor and I guess there’s just a mental block with me having to walk all downstairs to refill my glass – which, sometimes when I do, I get distracted with a chore in the kitchen and forget to bring the glass back up! But I really want to work on this as when I drink at least 8 glasses a day, I feel so much better.

Jen Haugen, RDN, LD, Author of The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden, and blogger at jenhaugen.com:

My one habit I am working on kicking is not planning meals.  I go in and out of phases with this and my weeks go SO much better when I meal plan!  To work on this, I am creating 5-10 freezer meals each month to have ready to go right in the freezer for fast meals.  I’ve also set a reminder on my phone for Sunday afternoons to take 10 minutes to put together a menu plan for the week, and I include my family on that so it’s not just what I want to eat 🙂  Taking just 10 minutes to plan creates more satisfying, stress-free meals!

What to do when you fail at meal prep

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Holley Grainger, MS, RD, Mompreneuer and Nutrition Communications Expert:

As a working mom in constant motion, I find myself mindlessly eating the first thing I can grab when I feel hunger strike. That may mean a spoon straight from the peanut butter jar to the mouth while making a lunchbox or swinging into a gas station to grab an energy bar for “lunch” between meetings. The main lessons learned from this habit–weight gain, exposing my children to bad habits, and never feeling full and satisfied with my food. My solution of late is to have healthier options prepped and packed. This means I do a little more work on Sunday afternoon chopping fruit, putting a serving of nuts in a baggie or boiling a dozen eggs but when the hunger strikes I have a healthy option ready to eat.

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And now, for my true confession: I love chocolate and eat it every day after dinner. Problem is, I often exceed the one-ounce limit I set for myself.  I have tried portion-controlled chocolate goodies, such as 100-calorie fudge bars, but I would eat one of them first, then reach for the chocolate, too! I’ve been battling chocolate urges for decades now, and I am pretty sure that trying to outsmart them is useless, and a waste of energy. Oh, well, I think this is one flaw I’ll just have to live with!

Thanks to everyone for telling it like it is!

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