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Reducing Food Waste + Recent Eats

This is the time of year where I want to buy ALL of the food at the farmers market.

9.8fridge

I get so sad about the end of summer produce that I buy too much of it. This was the state of my fridge last week. A little much for one, huh!? I’m happy to report that I plowed my way through it all without throwing anything out. And I can also say that I have eaten my weight in watermelon over the last week. They were on sale for $3 so I bought one and every time I open the fridge I end up standing there and eating watermelon.

Here’s how I used up most of the food in my fridge. Did you know that the average U.S. family throws away 20 pounds of food each month…which equates to around $2,275 a year for a family of four? Ever since I learned that stat from the U.S. Department of Agriculture I have tried to be so much more vigilant about not wasting food.

Some of the ways that I curtail my food waste include:

– Meal planning. When I’m buying my groceries for the week I think about how I’m specifically going to use the perishable items.
– Prep. If I do things like cut up the watermelon and make the refrigerator cucumbers, I am much more likely to eat them.
– Salads and scrambles. I use miscellaneous items at risk of going to waste in things like salads and egg scrambles.
– Freezer. My grandmother does this cool thing where she keeps a container in the freezer where she can store veggie remnants for when she makes a big pot of soup. So for example, if she didn’t use all of her green beans or okra, the veggies would go in the freezer for later. LOVE this idea. I also freeze fruits that I don’t use before they go bad.

9.8omelet

 

Omelet with two eggs, heirloom cherry tomatoes, zucchini, spinach and goat gouda.

9.8breakfast

Topped with avocado and basil and served with a peach. Fresh flowers from the farmers market make me happy.

9.8figs

Lots of salads this week. This one had spring mix, arugula, deli chicken, avocado, strawberries, almonds, dried cranberries, figs, feta and a drizzle of lemon infused olive oil and aged balsamic.

9.8snack

I have been loving these snack plates lately. I wrap avocado in deli chicken or turkey and then serve it with cheese and whatever I have in the fridge. This was dried figs and refrigerator cucumbers that I made with vinegar, sugar and water.

9.8worksalad

Packed salad that I took to work for lunch.

9.8beans

My favorite farmer at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market is Hoffman Heritage & Heirloom. He’s one of only a few vendors who offers all organic produce and on top of that his vegetables are heirloom varieties. It’s always the first table that I visit when I arrive. Last week he talked up these Dragon Tongue beans. Aren’t they pretty?

9.8chickendinner

Too bad that they lose that coloring as they cook but the flavor is delicious. They’re stringless and slightly sweet. I ate them with a lemon pepper chicken breast, leftover potato salad and refrigerator cucumbers.

9.8sushi1

I got sidetracked from home cooking one night last week and found myself out at sushi. I can never so no to sushi.

9.8sushi

I went to Ru Sans for the first time in over 5 years and it was actually really good.

9.8okradinner

I got back on the cooking bandwagon the next night and made another chicken breast with roasted okra, heirloom tomatoes and more cucumbers…Repeat of the chicken breast dinners last week because I usually pick up a pack of two from my friend at Windy Hill Farms. I decided not to get any for the upcoming week so that I can work through some fish/pork/chicken that I have in the freezer.

9.8arugula

I stayed in for dinner on Friday night and made a salad with the remaining produce in my fridge and then went out on Saturday night at Peculiar Rabbit. I started with this AMAZING arugula salad with goat cheese, dates and crispy prosciutto. It was all of my favorite things! 🙂

9.8burger

And then had the lamb burger and succotash.

That wraps it up for this edition of recent eats. Most of the fruits and veggies I have for the upcoming week are still pretty summery but the fall foods are coming soon. I bought my first acorn squash of the season at the market yesterday and shed a little tear as I paid for it! 😉

Talk to me about food waste. Are you good about using whats in your fridge or do you throw out more than you’d like? What’s your biggest challenge with food waste? 

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • 1
    R September 7, 2014, 4:39 pm

    I know I don’t want all the summer produce to end either. Our family was going through a watermelon a week for a while. It’s all so pretty and so many yummy choices! Where did you find the fresh figs? I looked last week at CRFarmers and didn’t see any. I was thinking King’s Market might have some…

    • 2
      Jen September 7, 2014, 4:53 pm

      i have either been getting them from friend’s trees or whole foods.

  • 3
    She Rocks Fitness September 7, 2014, 4:47 pm

    I hate wasting food and I have become really good at food shopping. I actually enjoy food shopping. 🙂 I have found that buying certain fruits and vegetables frozen helps a lot with less food waste. I also freeze a lot of my fish, meats, and chicken as well.

    • 4
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:21 pm

      girl, you are so good at food shopping. your costco hauls always impress me!

  • 5
    tara September 7, 2014, 5:10 pm

    i’m pretty good with food waste as i plan all meals and stick pretty close to that. My worst offenders are things like bagged salad where i swear one day they look fine and the next bad ! Also somtimes cucumbers since i cut them put them in tupperware then they get thrown in the back of the fridge. Other than that….I’m pretty good at not wasting. i use scraps for stock as well similar to your method. i juse a ziplock and put things like celery and carrrot trimmings, garlic, cauliflower and broccoli scraps and even the ends of onions. Throw it all in a pan, brown and put in water and you get veggie stock that is so good and flavorful and essentially for free.

    • 6
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:22 pm

      YES! the bag salad thing is the worst. i have quit buying bags and just use the clamshells now and place a paper towel in there to soak up moisture and help the greens not to get wilted or slimy. love your veggie stock idea!

  • 7
    Sam @ PancakeWarriors September 7, 2014, 5:19 pm

    Jen your salads are on point! I’m guilty of the watermelon fridge eating – it’s just so good though! I haven’t made refrigerator pickles before. I wondering that would work with other veggies too (zucchini and carrots – I have a ton). Love the tip about freezing the ends. I’ve been spiralizing potatoes and squash and normally have left over pieces. In the freezer they will go! Thanks for the tips! Ps Rusans is amazing. I have a serious craving!

    • 8
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:23 pm

      i’m not sure, i haven’t tried it with other veggies.

      never tried spiralizing either!

  • 9
    Kacy September 7, 2014, 6:02 pm

    We used to be so bad about wasting too! I’m like you, and buy too much. Now we plan out our meals weekly, and I try to stick to the list. Luckily, our chickens can eat the scraps if I happen to get too much!

    • 10
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:23 pm

      meal planning is the key to budget and food waste success! love that your chickens can help out too! 🙂

  • 11
    Chrissie September 7, 2014, 8:58 pm

    Did you enjoy dinner at The Peculiar Rabbit? I have been once, and the food was lackluster, so the only times I’ve been back are just for drinks. What do you think of the food? (I’m flirting with the idea of giving the food another chance).

    • 12
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:24 pm

      what we ordered was good but i wouldn’t seek it out as a go-to dinner spot. does that make sense?

  • 13
    Holly September 7, 2014, 9:20 pm

    Seriously, you make the most beautiful salads! My biggest challenge with food waste…..three picky children 🙂 My husband and I talk about this a lot because we really do waste A LOT of food! We cannot always eat their leftovers or the food that they refuse to try. If I did, I would weigh 500 pounds so it’s really not worth it! But I do feel guilty every time I throw away a plate of food.

    • 14
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:24 pm

      i can only imagine how challenging this must be!

  • 15
    Tiffany September 7, 2014, 9:24 pm

    Can you explain how you made the cucumbers? what were the proportions of vinegar and things you used? Thank you so much! Hope you’ve had a great weekend!

    • 16
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:27 pm

      i can’t remember! i think it was like 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup water and 2 tablespoons sugar?

  • 17
    Taylor September 7, 2014, 10:56 pm

    Honestly, it’s the fruits and veggies that get wasted most often! They go bad so quickly and I just can’t buy fresh produce more than once throughout the week. I had no clue you could freeze produce! Do you have any specific strategy for freezing them and keeping their quality?

    • 18
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:28 pm

      well quality will never be the same if you freeze it but not as important if you’re using it in a soup and going to boil it.

  • 19
    Stephanie September 7, 2014, 11:22 pm

    Your meals are so colorful and beautiful! I will have to revisit this post when I do my meal planning for next week

  • 20
    Nicole September 7, 2014, 11:31 pm

    Hey Jen,

    I cant see any of the comments on your blog post. I can only write one here. Why is that? can you fix this glitch? Thanks!

    • 21
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:28 pm

      it’s fixed!

  • 22
    Brandy September 8, 2014, 8:47 am

    Share the recipe for your pickles, please.

    • 23
      Jen September 8, 2014, 2:29 pm

      i can’t remember but i think i did 1/3 cup cider vinegar, 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 cucumbers.

  • 24
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles September 8, 2014, 4:36 pm

    Produce never goes bad in my house. I eat it all and certainly stand and pick at the watermelon when it is cut up in my fridge…The only thing that goes bad here are the bananas but that’s not even wasted because I just throw the overripe ones in the freezer to use for banana soft serve or the occasional smoothie or to just coat in chocolate and peanut butter.

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