About 40% of the food in the US is wasted– That is from the fields to your fridge. Pretty sad, right? 40% seems like a lot, and it is- if you break that down, on average, the typical American family throws away over 25 lbs of food per family member each year! Throwing food away is throwing money away.
Here are some simple, frugal recipes that can help you curb the food waste in your home.
To curtail my family’s food waste, I cook mostly from scratch. When it looks like fruit or veggies are about to go bad, I turn them into something. Recently, I made spicy Pomodoro sauce when the tomatoes at my parents’ house were starting to look squiffy (we were house-sitting for them).
Mom had left 6 tomatoes in the fruit basket and they were starting to get soft. I took them home and pulled the tomatoes and half of a sweet onion I had put in the freezer just a few days ago. The sauce was easy to make!
Spicy Pomodoro Sauce
Makes about 4 cups of sauce
- 11 fresh, whole ripe tomatoes (they can be frozen)
- 1/2 chopped large sweet onion (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon butter (or olive oil if you are vegan)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1T. Basil (dried)
- 1 T. Oregano (dried)
- 1/4 Teaspoon (a pinch) of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Saute onions in butter until clear, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook on low, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
- Add whole tomatoes (it’s ok if they are frozen), cover pot and simmer on medium for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes start to fall apart. Stir every 10 minutes or so.
- Add herbs.
- Simmer for 1-2 more hours. Sauce will be chunky. Break up tomatoes as much as you’d like with a potato masher or a stick blender. Add Red pepper flakes about 30 minutes prior to serving.
Serve sauce on pasta of your choice or on a bed of lightly sauteed spinach. If you don’t like your sauce spicy, omit the red pepper flakes.
Another recent “from scratch” dish I made was strawberry syrup. We’ve been getting a lot of strawberries lately, but last week, we didn’t get around to eating them all before they became a little squishy.
I hulled and chopped them up and tossed them into the freezer, in a bag with other chopped up hulled strawberries that were dead ripe. The bag was getting full, so Saturday evening, I decided to make strawberry syrup for our Sunday morning pancakes.
I used my mom’s recipe for homemade pectin free jam and just didn’t cook it as long. You can substitute in any other fruit you prefer, except pineapple, kiwi, mangoes, bananas, or coconut (those fruits lack natural pectin and the mixture won’t thicken). This is best with berries.
Strawberry pancake syrup
Makes about 2 cups
- 3 cups chopped ripe fruit (can be frozen)
- 1 1/2 cups of white sugar (do not use Splenda or honey)
- 1/4 cup of water
- Add all of the ingredients together in a pot, cook on medium, and stir every 5-10 minutes to keep the sugar from burning.
- Once it has boiled and the fruit has thawed (if working with frozen fruit), mash up the fruit with a potato masher.
- Turn the heat to low and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture looks glassy.
- Remove from heat, pour into a container with a lid. Once cooled, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
The mixture will be slightly chunky, and not as firm as jam, but a little more substantial than pancake syrup. This is also good on ice cream or pour a few tablespoons into plain Greek yogurt.
There are a lot of great dishes you can make from scratch anytime- you don’t need to wait for the veggies or fruit to start to turn!
We make applesauce from scratch at least 3 times a month.
Applesauce in the Crockpot
It’s Simple! Peel and chop apples (whatever quantity and variety you have on hand), toss them into the crockpot with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and let it cook for 4-6 hours. Hot applesauce is the BEST!
I’d love to hear about how your family combats food waste. If you are looking for additional ideas, check out my post about food waste in 30 minutes here.