Waste challenge

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With increased media attention on the issues of food waste and increasing food prices I’ve become more interested and concerned with my own food habits. Like everyone else, I’m trying to find ways to cut down my grocery bill and be a more effective shopper – without missing out on eating a (somewhat) healthy diet…and the occasional treats!

After reading an article in The Record back in January about food Waste, which you may remember from the posts that Matt and I wrote (if not, click our names to read the articles), I started following the online blog of Jonathan Bloom. His blog features links to many different articles that highlight issues around food waste; and lately he’s made a few mentions around the idea of “best-before” and “expiration” dates.

The notions of “best-before” and “expiration” dates are especially tricky in the work that we do here. It’s not uncommon for us to receive a product that is dated with a “best before” date, and receive a few calls about the expired products. However we do our best to try to inform those receiving food hampers that the date is somewhat misleading, because the product is still safe to consume. Then the choice is left to the patron on whether they find a way to use the item, or make the choice to discard the product.

But dealing with food products before they reach their prime is one of the many tasks that every household does to some degree. Some have made it more of a career or lifestyle than others, such as Kristen the Frugal Girl.

I was introduced to Kristen by reading through some of the archive articles on Bloom’s blog. She’s a fascinating woman who takes great pride in providing nutritious, homemade food for family. Kristen is a baking nut, which is one of the features that she often shows in her blog. Although her blog also shares some tips on how to “live cheerfully on less” and answering questions from her readers on a weekly basis. Basically I’ve begun to learn and think a lot about my own “wastefulness” through her reflections, ideas and tips.

Currently my favourite part of her blog is her journal documenting her weekly food wastes, which you can read about here. To ensure that she wastes as little as possible, she makes large shopping trip to get all the food items she needs to make the various meals that she plans out for each week. Simply planning what you’ll make a few days in advance is a great way to ensure that you’re only buying the foods you need, instead of the foods you may use at some point.

Ideally her goal in the Food Waste Friday blogs is to take a picture of an empty table every week. Unfortunately that’s rarely the case though. Some food waste is always inevitable because some items spoil faster than you anticipated, or you needed to make a sudden adjustment in your meals to accommodate an unexpected event, and so forth. However your food waste may waste more of your money than you think.

So let’s take back some of the wasted food dollars! I challenge everyone to follow the example of Kristen and reduce your food waste. You don’t have to put it up in a blog, but keep a journal for yourself or a mental tally. You may be really interested at how much money you’ll save once you look at how much you discard.

You’ll probably be surprised at how much you waste, or what types of food seem to be wasted most often. (I know I have been!) And feel free to share your strategies for avoiding food waste, comments on your progress, smart shopping tips, and whatever else!

How often do you clean out your fridge? What do you most commonly waste? Are you up to the challenge of potentially saving money?

Don’t be too shy to comment – we’ll still love you despite your food waste habits!

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