Monday, February 10, 2014

Reduce Food Waste With Portion Control [#CTWW]

This week's challenge:

This week, monitor food portion sizes and cook accordingly. Even if you are cooking once for more than one meal, pay attention to portions and resist cooking more than necessary, which often leads to waste. Need help determining portion size? This site will give you a general discussion on the topic with some clever ideas on how to determine a proper portion. The Calorie Counter is a search tool. Type in the food you want to make and it'll bring up calories associated with various servings sizes ... the first listing is typically considered a proper serving. The idea, here, is not to restrict calories or in any way "diet." Instead, we are educating ourselves on portion sizes and then cooking just enough so that we eliminate food waste.

I would love to be a mom who does not waste food. I'm not! Some days I beat myself up over it and some days, I tell myself that I am doing the best that I can. I am doing so much more than the average person. I should be content. Well, I am content for a few days and then I start to feel guilty. Just yesterday, I threw away 75% of a head of green leaf lettuce. I did not use it up before half of the head of lettuce turned black (into the compost it goes). I bought the green leaf lettuce to have a few leaves with a dish. I did not need a whole head of lettuce, so it gradually ended up in the back of the fridge.

With the spirit of Change the World Wednesday, the goal is to monitor food portion sizes and not waste food by making too much. Have you ever found that leftover container in the back of the fridge? The food molded and you were disappointed because you were looking forward to eating those delicious leftovers? I have! I would like to focus on meal planning and learning how to tell portion sizes as the strategies for eliminating food waste.

Meal planning is a great tool for determining exactly what you need to purchase at the grocery. Before I go to the grocery, I try to have an idea of what I will cook in the coming days. That way, I can buy just enough for the meal and for leftovers. My family enjoys having leftovers for lunch in the day or two after the dinner is cooked. Doing the majority of grocery shopping (I love it!) and cooking (I love it also!) has taught me how much my family usually eats. Anything that is leftover from a meal is packaged in appropriate sized containers. Bigger containers for my husband. Smaller containers for myself. Anything left in the fridge 2-3 days later is put in the freezer. Using 2 cups glass containers is an easy way to control portion sizes for leftovers. Plus, they are small enough to fit into the freezer.

Learning portion sizes can be quick and easy. From my experience, it usually takes less than one week to get a hang of portion sizes. Use the links above to determine appropriate portions for each of the foods you are serving. When dishing out a meal for your family, take out the measuring cups and spoons. After a few times, you will know how much rice is in one serving. I always knew that we tend to eat more rice and pasta than we should, so I looked it up. According to the USDA, one serving of rice equals 1/2 cup of cooked rice and one serving of pasta equals 1/2 cup of cooked pasta. That is pretty small, but if you think about eating 1/2 cup of rice with veggies and/or meat on top, it is actually pretty filling.

Don't worry! You do not have to calculate every calorie and measure everything you eat. Spend a few days getting to know what the portion sizes are for the foods that you eat and cook. If you are eating the right types of foods (real, whole foods), you will not overeat because these foods are filling. After you determine the correct portion sizes, appropriately plan meals and leftovers. When all else fails, you can freeze most foods.

>> How do you reduce food waste??

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