“The most expensive food you buy is the food you waste”
Congratulations on completing Week One! Knowledge is power! Now that you know how much avoidable food waste you generate in a typical week, you can do something about it! We hope you had a chance to take five minutes to complete the 3 short reflection questions before moving on to this week’s challenge. If not, click here to do that now.
This week we get started making behavior changes that will help us minimize avoidable food waste – with the aim to keep healthy food out of the green bin and save us money.
Most of us spend way more money on food than is necessary. For a lot of people, it’s the second biggest expenditure, right after their mortgage or rent. Did you know that your food expense is one of the easiest ones to control? The key is simple – plan ahead what you will eat before buying your groceries! (from sweatingthebigstuff.com)
Planning is one of the most basic organizational tools. We plan our vacations, we plan our “to do” list for the week or our schedule for the day, but fewer people bother to plan their eating. But sitting down each week to spend a few minutes planning your meals for the week will absolutely save you time, effort and stress during the week.
Here’s why meal planning is worth your time:
- It will help you to eat healthier. You are more likely to choose healthier options for you and your family if you plan ahead. You’ll avoid making last minute, less healthy choices like fast food.
- It allows for easier meal prep. You’ll shop for what you need in advance and have all your ingredients on hand. No last minute trips to the store!
- It will lower stress by saving you from the 4:30pm “What am I going to make for dinner?” crisis.
- It will save you money. You’ll use your meal planner to create a grocery list of only ingredients you need. You will no longer wander the aisles, grabbing items on sale and products you won’t necessarily use. Each item will have a purpose for that week and will get turned into a meal instead of slowly rotting in your fridge.
- You can probably guess this next reason – careful planning of meals can lower your family’s household food waste.
How does the Challenge Work?
Your Task: You will use your laminated meal planner from your Just Eat It, Caledon! Waste Reduction Tool Kit to create your own meal plan for the week ahead. Before filling it in, it’s time to think about you and your family’s eating habits.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Which nights of the week am I busiest, with less time to prep a meal? This day’s meal could be simple and quick.
- What time of day do I want to do my cooking? With so many of us working from home these days, it may be logical for some of us to shift the main meal of the day to lunchtime, depending on everyone’s schedules. Perhaps dinner will remain the main meal of the day, but you may want to do the meal prep early in the morning to save time.
- Is there a day of the week I normally like to order in or pick up a meal?
- What are some of our favourite meals that I might like to include this week?
- Would I like to incorporate a new recipe I have been meaning to try?
- Who will be doing the cooking each day? If possible, try to rotate or share this responsibility, especially if you have a spouse, teenagers or adult children in the house. Younger children can help with meal prep and cooking too!
Looking for help making your meal plan? Check out our resources section for links to some great meal planning apps. Most of these apps will not only offer creative meal suggestions, but they also contain a grocery list function you can fill and bring with you to the store.
The Cardinal Rule when meal planning – Use What You’ve Got – Don’t Let it Rot!
One of the keys to effective meal planning to reduce food waste is to take an inventory of what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry before planning meals or going to the store. Take a picture of your freezer and fridge contents if necessary and identify food that you can use. Make these food items part of your meal plan. Got wilting veggies? Freeze them and use in a soup this week. Extra meat could become part of a casserole. We will be talking about how to make the most of leftover food next week, but for now, keep in mind that you want to use up what you have before you restock.
Let’s Start Planning!
Once you have taken inventory of food you currently have, grab your meal planning sheet and your dry-erase marker. You can use this tool to create a rough version of your meals for the week ahead, and in the weeks moving forward. As you create your meal plan, keep a sheet of paper handy to record the items needed for each meal, or use one of the meal planning apps. These items will form your grocery list for the week, along with any staple items you usually like to stock. Shop for your groceries as you usually would – online or in person. As you go through the week, keep a close eye on your green bin and your avoidable food waste. Our goal is to use planning to help us buy and consume food smartly – and avoid having to put healthy food in our green bin.
Food for Thought! We’re all in this together! We can’t wait to hear how your meal planning experience goes this week. Please share your comments with us on our community feed so we can all learn from each other. Don’t forget to fill in the reflection questions for week two!