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5 Ways to Greener Eating (& Wasting Less Food)

I wrote this post as part of a blogger takeover in honor of Food Day, October 24, 2015. Be sure to read to the bottom where there are more links from more bloggers!

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Do you save the mealtime leftovers but ultimately toss them in a few days?

I do.

Do you find it easier to toss food, rather than to come up with a creative way to include it in an entrée or a baked dessert?

Me too.

I’m seeing an uptick in food waste at my house. Maybe it’s the fact that one child recently went to college, and the number of mouths to feed is down. Or maybe we’re getting complacent about food waste–taking our abundance and access to food for granted. 

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I had a little wake up call when I recently attended the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Nashville, TN. I listened to Trader Joe’s ex-president, Doug Rauch, talk about his new endeavor, Daily Table, a non-profit grocery store located in Dorchester, MA (a low to middle income neighborhood in Boston). 

Daily Table sells surplus and aging food at a steep discount. A week’s worth of meals can cost around $30-40, and food assistance programs are honored as payment.

Mr. Rauch gets his store stock from donations. Food that would be unacceptable for purchase in traditional stores is donated. Essentially this food is in surplus or didn’t sell in time (too close to the ‘sell by’ date).

Think seasonal produce that didn’t sell out, or milk that is about to expire in 5 days (but is still good). Mr. Rauch and his crew sell this food at the store ‘as is,’ or they prepare it in their grocery kitchen as ready-to-eat entrees and meal sides.

Brilliant. Mr. Rauch is doing something about food waste, while tackling hunger and healthy eating at the same time.

It was then that I realized being greener doesn’t necessarily mean eating more plant foods. It also means wasting less food. Being conscious of where food is obtained. And, being creative with preparing the food you have. 

I knew my family had the “eating greener” thing going on—not perfectly—but, the food waste, however, was a growing problem.

I realized my family needed to continue to take steps toward greener eating, but needed a bit more focus on curtailing food waste. 

I have thought about a few ways I’ll be working on this, as I strive to reduce food waste and keep us on a healthy eating path. Here’s what I am paying more attention to:

Meatless Meals

This is an ongoing challenge for me because certain members of my family aren’t keen on meatless meals. While I can get excited about Portobello mushrooms or a bean chili, not everyone under my roof agrees.

So, I find I resort to salad themes, which is something we can all agree on. Nevertheless, I am forging ahead for myself, and my family.

Salad Themes

Cheese or beans is the alternative meat source in this theme night, while piles of veggies helps to ensure a greener meal.  Try Taco salad, Greek salad, a Panzanella salad, spinach salad, a salad wedge with cheese, or another creative variation.

Honestly, sometimes I chop up the veggies that I have, toss them with our favorite lemon vinaigrette, and sprinkle some crumbled cheese on top.

Fruit is Always a Yes

I have always kept washed fruit on the counter for those unexpected hunger pangs, but lately I’ve been a bit lazy about it. My kids know that if they are hungry, they can always have a piece of fruit. And I always include fruit at dinner.

This puts us all a step closer to getting our daily servings! Make an effort to peel, chop or slice fruit if you have young children.

Offer a Fruit and/or a Veggie at All Meals

Ever since my kids were very young, I have always served fruit and vegetables at all meals. My thinking was this: if they don’t eat the vegetables, then they have the fruit option.

Our kids always ate the fruit, and sometimes ate the vegetables. And I stressed less about what they were eating, and whether they were getting enough fruits and vegetables.

Use Aging Produce

Got some bad bananas? Throw them in the blender for a smoothie or make some banana bread. Are your vegetables about to go bad? Simmer them in vegetable broth, and puree for a hearty cream soup.

Get creative with aging produce by incorporating them into creative sides, main entrees and desserts.

Of course, there are many more things you can do to eat a greener diet and waste less food, such as shop for your produce locally (it travels fewer miles and eats up less gas and reduces environmental pollution), grow your own garden, and use a weekly meal plan.

How are you helping your family eat a greener diet and waste less food? Share your tricks here!

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This post is part of the Food Day 2015 Blogger Take Over. Be sure to read these other fabulous blog posts too!

Alli from Don’t Panic Mom

Amanda from Produce for Kids

April from Gluten is My Bitch

Donna from The Hanging Spoon

Emily from Colorado Moms

Gina from The Multitasking Missus

Jessica from The Balanced Kitchen

Jory from Teeny Tiny Foodie

Kristen from Fueling a Fit Fam

Lacy and Emily from Laughing Lemon Pie

Maaike from the Official Food Day Blog

Maybelline from Naturalmente Mama 

Sally from Real Mom Nutrition

Susan from Real Kids Eat Spinach

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