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Find your good food groove

Fresh vegetables being chopped on a cutting board.

Many of us have recently altered our cooking and shopping habits in order to reduce our trips to the grocery store. Have you faced any challenges with this new way of planning and preparing your meals? Is the food disappearing too fast? Or not fast enough? Are you seeing a lot of good food going into the green bin?

This ‘new normal’ can be a great opportunity to really get in tune with your food and your family’s eating habits, potentially having your kitchen run like a well-oiled machine producing very little food waste. When you start to plan your meals and grocery lists in advance, organizing your meal plan to incorporate leftovers and using the most perishable foods first, you can really see a reduction in the amount of food that gets tossed.

Here are 12 easy ways to help you find your groove in the kitchen:

  1. Set aside some time to plan out your meals and what you will need until your next shop; make a detailed grocery list including quantities needed, especially when it comes to perishable items
  2. Pick recipes that use similar ingredients so you can use everything you bought, including that full bunch of cilantro
  3. Plan for leftovers and designate days to eat those leftovers for lunch or dinner, or freeze for another day
  4. Check what you have on hand while you’re making your list, so you don’t buy something you already have; search for recipes that can use the ingredients you already have in stock
  5. Keep some pantry staples on hand (e.g. chick peas, black beans, diced tomatoes, rice and quinoa) just in case you don’t make enough leftovers for a second meal and need a quick backup
  6. Choose local – fresher is better and can last longer when it hasn’t travelled so far to reach you. For updates on your local farms and their offerings visit York Farm Fresh
  7. Learn where your produce is best kept – not all fruits and veggies are created equal – some prefer to be kept at room temperature (like tomatoes and onions) where some prefer to be kept cool
  8. Be strategic on where you place things in the refrigerator – label your containers and include the date (masking tape works well here); move things around so older items are up front and not forgotten – this goes for jars of sauces too
  9. Don’t let things die in your crisper – rotate those fruits and veggies so they don’t get forgotten at the bottom of the drawer
  10. Pay attention to your produce – for example, if you see those strawberries softening, throw them into a smoothie or freeze them for a smoothie later. Fresh herbs can also be chopped and frozen for sauces and soups too
  11. Don’t over-portion when plating your food – you can always go back for seconds. Once your meal is served and then half eaten, it will need to be scraped into the green bin. The remaining unserved meal can be cooled and stored as leftovers
  12. Consider using a meal planning app – there are some great free ones out there that basically do everything for you – they provide recipes, consider diet restrictions, serving sizes, generate grocery lists and even calculate food waste saved

If you’re really ambitious and want to do some detective work, try keeping a journal of what you’re throwing away. It will help you identify any patterns of habitual food being wasted. If you find you’re constantly tossing mouldy bread away – rethink how you store it. Next time, freeze the whole loaf and only pull out a few slices at a time; or even stop buying it if no one is eating it.

Looking for some healthy inspiration to get you started? There are lots of videos and recipes online to help you out, but you can find some “dietitian-approved” recipes and shopping lists at the following links below:

York Region #letscook30

Health Canada Recipes

For more tips to waste less and save more visit Good Food.

good,food,eating habits,grocery list Find your good food groove with 12 easy ways to help you find your groove in the kitchen. The Regional Municipality of York en-US News

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