Arugula Pesto PastaHow much do you hate wasted food?  It totally makes me nuts! And it happened waaaay too often in my house.  

You know the drill – you see that lovely bunch of greens or the sausages are on super sale or you just make too much dinner and then no one will remember to look for the leftovers at lunchtime the next day.  The food comes in and then gets lost in Refrigerator Neverland.

Gah. I know you feel me.

For us, the contributing issues are many: very busy family of 7; one member who cooks and works with food, so there is a need for lots of it around all the time; a refrigerator that is meant, basically, for a small mouse family (really need a new fridge – oh, hey, by the way, have you thought about subscribing to MealPlans by Julia Cooks? Get a free sample, or just go ahead and sign up – it will help with the new fridge ;-)).  

Even for me, a relatively well organized person who thinks about food all the time, it can creep up. Here are my three best strategies to keep it at bay:

  1. Always have a plan.  This cuts down on the chance that you will be dazzled by the pretty produce aisle or that super dreamy looking new farm stand.  If it is not on the list for the meals you are planning, don’t buy it. Of course, I am always a fan of taking advantage of a good sale, but be sure you are actually going to use the tasties that beckon.
  2. Prep produce right when you get home from the store.  This one can be difficult – I often find it is – but it can have a big impact on whether food gets found or forgotten.  When I buy some snacking veg like carrots or cucumbers, they are much more likely to be eaten if I cut them up and have them ready to go in a sealed container then if I toss them in the refrigerator to be cut just before eating.  If I buy radishes for sandwiches (we are big fans of radish sandwiches here), I slice them and store them in a little water until I am ready to use them. This makes it much less likely that they die at the bottom of the produce drawer.
  3. Embrace the “clean out the fridge” meal.  This one, I love.  It is satisfying, productive, and gets my creativity rolling.  And it’s not hard to do! I know it can seem daunting to think of whipping up a meal with 4 or 5 seemingly random things but a great strategy for framing your thinking is to keep some go to blank canvases in mind.  Soups, pastas, stir frys, pestos – these are all great places to plug in your random bits. For example, I had half a bag of arugula, some parsley, and a chunk of parmesan. I also had some pignoles and pasta in the pantry and half a bag of sliced salami.  Arugula pesto pasta with chopped up salami – the whole family was happy. I saved the chunk of parm and I am going to add it to broth for soup that I am putting all the random bits of veggies and a few leftover sausages into. Suddenly those disparate pieces that couldn’t be used for a meal on their own have turned into two great dinners!  Go me!

 

I do still need the bigger refrigerator, though, so you should sign up for MealPlansByJuliaCooks, and tell all your friends (I know, sales-y, right? But when one is in love with a new fridge, one does what one must…)  This is the one I dream about: https://twitter.com/yolandasfridge (Yes, I admit, I am kind of nutty for the Real Housewives, total guilty pleasure that I previously would never admit to!)  But mostly check out the meal plans because you want to get a handle on this food thing and I am here to help.

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