If Vince is in the kitchen when I’m cleaning up after a meal, he wants to save everything! I truly do not save everything . . I only save the things I know we will eat. If we have leftover mashed potatoes and it’s enough that I can fry up some potato cakes for another meal, I’ll save them. If there’s 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes left, I don’t save it. Throwing food out aggravates the heck out of me but what I hate even worse is putting leftovers in either a ziplock bag or a container and then having to throw out the food and the ziplock bag or wash the container for food we never used.
Another thing I’ve started doing recently . . I used to cook enough for a second meal and then put the leftovers away but all of us will sit at the table and pick as long as there’s food in front of us so now I put half the food away and put half the food on the table. We eat what’s there and don’t eat into what should have been another meal.
No matter how organized I plan to be, I forget about stuff in the back of the fridge so I’ve started keeping Post-It notes on the fridge and if I put leftovers in, I write it on the Post-It note, along with the date. Then I scratch it off when we use it. I see those notes every time I walk up to the fridge and knowing what’s in there really helps me use the food we save.
Another thing I do is keep a spreadsheet of all the food that goes into the freezer.
Everything that goes into the freezer is labeled with the corresponding line number from the spreadsheet and the date it went into the freezer.
I went into great detail about how this all works for me in this post if you care to read more. I like using the Google spreadsheets because no matter which computer I’m on (upstairs or downstairs), I can access my files . . since Vince has never networked my computers. Bad Vince!
Almost everything I cook, I make enough for us to have more than one meal. Some things freeze better than others and I try to judge what will freeze well and what won’t so we aren’t surprised by a meal that was yummy once but after being frozen, it’s nasty.
Food is expensive, preparing it costs some amount in utilities and time we can save in the kitchen is time we can spend quilting or working in our flower/veggie gardens now that spring is here (for some of us!). With just a little effort and planning and record keeping, I try to maximize my food dollars and my time spent preparing meals. This may all sound kind of overwhelming (spreadsheets are scary to some . . I love them!) but why don’t you give it a try and see how simple it really is.