Cooking at Home While Staying at Home Part III

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Part III: Save Money, Waste Less

It is estimated that a household can save 25 percent of its grocery budget by simply wasting less food. Think about food use in this way:

Smart Shopping: Buy Only What You Need

Smart Saving: Eat What You Buy

Smart Prep: Prep Now, Eat Later

Smart Storage: Keep it Fresh

Planning menus and shopping lists in advance helps you buy only the food you will actually eat. Setting aside time at the beginning of the week to pre-prep fruits and vegetables makes it easier to whip up meals later in the week. By storing foods properly for maximum freshness they will taste better and last longer.

Since fresh produce is one of the most often discarded foods, here are some tips for buying and using fresh produce:

  • Purchase in-season and look for the “ugly” tomatoes or the crooked carrots that others won’t buy, especially if they are discounted.
  • Use all the edible parts such as citrus zest and broccoli stems.
  • Save the liquid from cooking beans or draining canned vegetables, as well as leftover ingredients, to add to soups and stews.
  • Make your own vegetable stock from celery stems and leaves, carrot ends, and other vegetable peels, skins, tops or cores.
  • Add too-ripe fruit to smoothies, oatmeal, or muffins.

If you still end up with more fresh fruits and vegetables than you can use before they go to waste, consider food preservation methods such as freezing, canning, or dehydrating. Food safety is important when preserving food at home, so it is important to follow tested guidelines. Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation or contact your local Cooperative Extension office for guidance.