Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reducing Food Waste at Home...and a Menu Plan

~My apologies to those of you who saw this disappeared for a bit because I wasn't quite finished!
A little somebody around here accidentally hit "publish!"

Are you starting to crave hot bowls of soup or chili, homemade breads, and other comfort foods?
Fall seems to bring that out for me.
I have been doing fairly well on our food budget, which can be hard because we really try to not eat many processed foods.
I am not perfect, but on the whole, I make most everything from scratch and try my best not to waste a morsel.
Fresh fruits and veges can be expensive as we head into the Fall/Winter months, so I am freezing as much as I can!

This week, I planned our menu around good old Pinterest ideas.
My Farm Recipes  board is full of wonderful recipes.
I am trying to branch out and separate recipes by category, so you will find other food related boards on my page, too:).

Here are 5 days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for the week.
I tried to have the meal plans follow each other in a way that everything is used up and there is NO WASTE.
Waste not, want not...right?
A 2004 study actually found that 50% of all food harvested in the U.S. never gets used.
Read about it HERE.
I think that is sad, and believe me...I am guilty, too.
Most Americans waste about 14% of their food which adds up to about $600 a year!
To help combat the waste, I am planning more carefully how I use food.
I can cook a chicken and have chicken noodle soup one night, chicken salad for lunch the next day, and any leftovers could easily be frozen for later use.
There are many ways to reduce waste, but it does take planning.
Here are a few ways to start reducing food waste in your home:

1. Have an organized fridge so that things don't get pushed to the back.
 Label leftovers and date them.
Clear plastic or glass containers work well because you can see what is inside.

2. Stick to small portions on your can always go back for seconds.

3. Make dinner your use it up meal and make casseroles or soup with veges that are just starting to wilt.
Smoothies or making popsicles with bruised fruit is a great idea. Just cut off the bruised portion. If fruit is moldy it shouldn't be used.

4. Your fridge should be set at 39 degrees to prevent spoilage.

5. Freeze leftovers and label. Make sure to have a day when you use them up!

6. Menu plan to use up meat, pasta, other veges for a couple of days.
Think outside of the box!
Plan about 5 days worth of meals and be sure to make them conducive to your schedule.
I like to leave about two days for leftovers.

7. Buy local at Farmer's Markets...the food has not had to travel for 7 days to get to the shelf.
Better yet, plant a garden!

8. Here is my biggest tip: If your kids don't eat all of their lunch or dinner, package it up to use as a snack later.

So, here are 5 days of meals easy on the budget, healthy, home cooked, and waste reducing:).
Some of the recipes I have altered slightly to include leftover vegetables.
I really feel like the taste is not compromised at all...and you are using everything in your refrigerator and saving $$!

Just click on the pictures for the recipes!
Day 1
Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
quick Chiquita Banana Oatmeal Smoothie Recipe

Banana Roll Ups
{Using up the bananas:)}
school lunch ideas
Sliced Apples

Pork Chops {from our freezer}

Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes
{Save leftovers for soup later this week.}

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
{Save leftovers for soup later this week.}


Five Ingredient Peanut Butter Granola Bars
5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Granola Bars 

Day 2

Bacon, Cheddar, and Tomato Bake
{I made a batch of ground pork sausage and used it in place of the bacon and then saved some for tomorrow's dinner.}

{Leftovers from Dinner Last Night}


Beef and Bean Enchilada Casserole
Save some ground beef for tomorrow night...I usually double the amount because it saves time and is just as easy to make 1 pound as it is 2 pounds.
{I also put in any leftover pork, diced, from last night's dinner}.

Bean-and-Beef Enchilada Casserole

Salad with This Dressing...
homemade ranch dressing.

Mustard Glazed Carrots
We are harvesting carrots from the garden:).
{Save leftovers for soup later this week.}


Healthy Chocolate Muffins
Chocolate muffins with greek yogurt, cocoa, and applesauce, 58 calories each.

Day 3


Honey Pumpkin Oatmeal with Toast

Spicy Tuna Melts
Spicy Tuna Melts
Served with Fruit

Chunky Vegetable Soup
{Add sausage from Day 2's breakfast, and any carrots, potatoes, or green beans left over from dinner this week!}

Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese
I have a lot of spinach in my garden right now and just put spinach leaves on the sandwich and added my basil pesto.
If you would like to make your own pesto, here is a great recipe.
Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich- again with the bread! I need to learn how to make paleo bread! This looks so good!

Homemade Wheat Thins 
Homemade Wheat Thins, extremely easy and cheap, plus they taste better than the original!

Pumpkin Smoothie
{Using up the pumpkin puree from this morning.}
Saving it for fall... Pumpkin Pie Smoothie  1/2 banana,  1/3 cup pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt , 3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (or vanilla soy milk), few shakes of pumpkin pie spice, 4-5 ice cubes fall

Day 4

Egg and Spinach Quiche Cups
{Using more spinach from the garden.}
Great idea for breakfast once school is back in session.
{Make Homemade Granola for tomorrow.}

Good ole PBJ's, fruit, carrots {from the garden} and Ranch dip from Day1.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos
{I also baked 4 more chicken breasts in the oven to use for tomorrow.}
Crockpot Chicken Tacos by mychocolatetherapy. Recipe from Tasty Kitchen: Only 3 ingredients, a package of taco seasoning, boneless chicken breasts and a jar of salsa. Use the leftovers for tortilla soup! #Chicken #Tacos #Chicken_Tacos #Crockpot #Slow_Cooker #mychocolatetherapy

Salad with Ranch Dressing from Day 1.

Herbed Garlic~Parmesan Popcorn
herbed garlic parmesan popcorn

Day 5

Homemade Granola

Chicken Salad on Homemade Buns
{Buns from last night's dinner.}

1 cup mayo
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 tsp basil
2 stalks celery chopped
1/2 cup chopped apples {opt.}
1/8 tsp. seasoned salt

Mix well and serve on buns.

Homemade Buns

Another pinner says: "My absolute favorite buns in the world, the only ones I ever make...and they're ready in 40 minutes!

Served with carrots and Ranch dip and Homemade Wheat Thins

Tortilla Soup
{Using leftover chicken from last night's dinner.}

South of the Border Sandwiches
{I substituted chicken from last night in place of the turkey, and used the buns from lunch.}

Served with Salad and Ranch Dressing.

Homemade Carrot Raisin Cookies
{Using up those carrots.}
carrot cookies

Hope you enjoy!
Sorry to not have a grocery list available, but many of the items should be things that we already have on hand.
I also tend to double all of the recipes for my family of 6...I have growing boys who eat for three people!

Happy Fall!


Nadine said...

I am always looking for ideas to trim down our food budget, especially with our oldest daughter getting married in a few weeks!
The meal ideas all look delicious...thank you for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I just started using Pinterest today for the very first time. I will have to see if I can find your boards.


Valerie said...

Hello Julia.

Thanks for your kind comment the other day!

Your food posts always inspire me. On behalf of myself and all the other bloggers that cross your path, thank you! It takes a lot of time and effort to put together your food posts, photograph, edit, etc. We appreciate you.

Yes, food wastage is a terrible thing...and something I am guilty of as well. I will say this, when we decided as a family to embark on getting healthy, our fruits and veggie consumption went way up and our waste went way down. Oh, we still have our moments, but usually, it's b/c we didn't stick to our weekly food plan and ate some restaurant food or (unhealthy!) overly processed foods.

Take care and happy Tuesday,


Jennifer said...

Thanks for the inspiration!
I'll have to check out the Pinterest for more recipe ideas. I'm known for throwing everything, but the
kitchen sink into soups & casseroles ;)

Lisa said...

Looks delicious! Do you have some recipes to share?

Julian said...

Thankyou! This was very timely,as we have six kids,and ive been hoping ti do this. We have two deep freezers,and a pantry,so food keeps on rollin with four growing boys,and two girls! Looking to trim down grocery costs as well. Thanks for sharing,youve got some gteat ideas. Chridtina

Olyvia said...

This is great! Thank you! I truly enjoy your blog - very inspiring :)

Keeping It Cozy said...

These all look like wonderful recipes and you have some good reminders for me too. :-) And now I also remembered I was going to clean my fridge today!

Julie said...

Thanks for the recipe links--they all look good!

Dalyn said...

Wow what a great menu plan. I'm going to try a few new things, especially tht chunky veggie soup! I'm craving that right now and it's only 8:00 a.m. :)

food lover said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
food lover said...

I have been thinking alot about food waste lately too. I started a 30 day challenge focusing on spending less on groceries, using leftovers or turning them into new meals. It's nice to read about someone else's path!

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