Food waste is something I think a lot about. I make two big shopping trips a month, and I call myself a “suburban shopper,” because my shopping habits are not like I imagine an urban shopper’s to be. In other words, I won’t be popping into the store every couple of days to pick up perishables. So keeping my food fresh and using it in a timely matter is really important to me. Not just because wasting food is a waste of money, but also because it feels like the worst kind of decadence, knowing there really *are* starving children in the world. Wasting food feels profoundly disrespectful to me.
So here are some things I do to avoid wasting food:
- I usually wash all my produce when I bring it home, which makes cooking with it that much simpler.
- I store my more delicate fresh herbs in herb-keepers. They really do work.
- ALL proteins that are not being used in the next few hours go in the freezer.
- I keep my pantry fairly well-stocked with *my* staples, so it’s easy to create a dish on the fly
- I keep tabs on what’s “turning” in my produce drawer. Delicate herbs, veggies and fruits tend to get used first–hearty veggies can wait. If something is starting to look “iffy,” it gets used.
- Make roasting your friend. Tomatoes look lousy? Roast them. (It makes them sweet and improves lousy texture.) Potatoes getting soft? Cut out the eyes and roast them. Mushrooms starting to get brown? I roast them or put them in a sauce. Bread getting stale? It gets turned into breadcrumbs or croutons.
Here’s probably the most important weapon in my arsenal: Google. Seriously. Stumped about how to use up an item in your fridge? Google it. Google “fennel recipes.” Google “uses for ground turkey.” Google whatever the hell you want, and you’ll have thousands of recipes at your fingertips. There really is no excuse not to use up all the perishables in your pantry and fridge. Plus, trying new recipes is fun.
And now a quick note about simplicity. I tend to eschew recipes that have 500 ingredients in them, mostly because I’m lazy, but also because I’m an experienced enough cook to know that you don’t need to empty your pantry to make something delicious. So, I rate for these tacos, which I made they other night. Wow–yummy and healthy.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. minced chipotles in adobo
5 oz. packaged classic coleslaw mix (about 2-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 6- to 7-inch corn tortillas
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
10 oz. deveined, easy-peel medium shrimp (41 to 50 per lb.), peeled
Lime wedges, for serving