How To Be a Food Waste Champ

Reader Contribution by Aur Beck and Advanced Energy Solutions
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Farmers market stand
Photo by Aur Beck

April 28th is Stop Food Waste Day. We have all done it: Bought fresh food only to find we already had some in the pantry or fridge. When was the last time you or I have cleaned out the fridge completely and cooked just with what we have? I remember reading that as much as 40% of food in the United States is thrown away. That’s a lot of good value & money being thrown away.

I do tend to forget what I have and buy more. My kitchen has no doors on the shelves, so I can more easily see what I have in stock, but still I have serious issues with knowing what I have in my fridge and/or freezer. I have been challenging myself to only cook with what I have. We have gotten spoiled by our full access to any and all food even if it is out of season. I have been challenging myself to cook with what is locally available and in season. I do can a lot of tomatoes and green beans to have them year round but do that in season to get bushels (lots) cheap. What is something you eat regularly and could figure out ways to obtain or make more cheaply? Veggies in season I have found to take less, due to their high flavor and nutrition, to satisfy my body.

Farmers Market Scores

I love talking to the local farmer to get the weird-shaped or spotted seconds cheaply. The farmers like that they don’t have to throw away their hard work and I get lots of local and/or organic produce cheaper. Usually however that means the produce needs to be processed quickly. 

I go on Saturdays to the farmers market or the farmer calls me and then Sunday, I cut the bad spots off and freezer bag it to be put away for all of it to be cooked and/or processed further later. I tend to do most of my canning (except for green beans) in the winter when I want to heat up the house and I have more time to be inside due to the increased hours of darkness. While summer is a great time to use a solar cooker and solar food dryer to pack massive quantities away. Dried apples and “sun”-dried tomatoes are two great examples. I do love drying a veggie mix of onions, peas, parsley, squash and/or zucchini. It is a lovely mix to very easily add to soup or casserole.

Note; Do you throw out cans once they pass the “best if used by date”? Note that the date is a Not an expired date. 

Hope this helps recipe you find a little inspiration to waste less and for saving lots of money

Veggie scraps
Photo by Aur Beck

Veggie Broth or Chicken Broth to Avoid Food Waste

No need to every again pay $3-6 a quart!

Vegetable broth: When you cut off the ends of your vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, green stems, zucchini) save any of the-non rotten bits in a gallon freezer bag or a container in the freezer. Once the bag is full slow simmer or run through the soup setting on your electronic pressure cooker. I use a gallon of water and put in a steamer basket or deep fryer basket to easily strain the veggies out to get a clear broth. 

Meat broth: I save meat bones in a gallon freezer bag or container in the freezer until full. If you want want a lighter chicken broth just use the chicken bones and bits. If you want a darker richer broth save any type of meat bits and bones but crack open the bones for the rich inner bone marrow. 

Although I sometimes allow the broth to cool and pack in quart freezer bags, I usually fill quart canning jars and do a hot water can.

Aur Beckhas lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter atThe Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict atOil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host atWDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on theLiving Off Grid, Really!?!?Facebook page, and read all of Aur’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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