We eat food everyday. It is something our body needs. Because of this, you may find yourself spending a good amount of time in kitchen. Making the most of the time you have to prepare food helps you accomplish more in less time. It can be overwhelming to keep yourself (and the family) fed, happy, AND not forget about all the food you already have.Remember that zucchini or those peppers at the back of your fridge? Instead of throwing them away when you don’t know what to do with them or they go bad, what if you had a quick way to save them for another time?
There were a lot of gadgets in my kitchen. But when I started to sift through was actually being used and let go of what would be used “some day,” the collection became simplified. Having less causes me to use what I have more-perhaps because it’s less overwhelming with fewer options. I am also more prone to remembering and using the kitchen gadgets when there is an overabundance or overripeness of food in the fridge. Here are my essential kitchen gadgets for making the most of the food in my fridge right now.
What is a useful kitchen gadget?
If you are like me, your kitchen may have lots of gadgets, tools, and dishes in it. Most, if not all, have a purpose-or had a purpose, at some point. While having a bunch of kitchen tools is great, we tend to fall into the mindset that we need a single kitchen gadget to do one job. Yet, too many gadgets or tools in the kitchen often means less productivity or focus, (at least it does for me). There are certain tools or kitchen gadgets that can do lots of jobs-you don’t need a gadget for each step of cooking! The gadgets I’m sharing today each have multiple tasks they can accomplish. This helps you maximize your time, money, and space so the kitchen can be as efficient as possible!
You don’t need to be an expert chef or experienced baker to use kitchen tools effectively. You also don’t need to spend the a crazy amount of money on your gadgets to be a good cook. Maybe you think of yourself as an ordinary mom who never has time to cook, or a newlywed trying to figure out how to cook for two, or you’re just cooking for yourself. Where you are, we ALL benefit from using our time wisely. Most of us are all about saving time and money, especially in the food department. This is a daily necessity we live and deal with here!
Why does food waste happen?
Life is busy. There are days when having your children dressed, fed, and clean feels like the biggest accomplishment ever. When life gets especially crazy, one of the first things that often happens in my home is food waste. When I don’t take the time to meal plan, grocery shopping is based on what looks good. Not taking the time to plan out the meals ends with uneaten or rotting food that doesn’t seem to go with anything else (example: cabbage. Why do my recipes always call for HALF of a cabbage? It took awhile for me to figure out how to best use that other half.)
However, when the chaos of life can be tamed to the point of taking a few minutes to plan out your meals and grocery list-food waste can be avoided. That’s the first step in saving money and having less food in the garbage. Also, I’ve found a few kitchen gadgets that make cooking a lot easier-especially figuring out how to use the last of xyz at the back of my fridge.
A quick disclaimer: this is not the advice of an expert chef- but a normal girl who is learning how to cook healthy food that appeals to littles and the hubby too. And by the way…I’ve never even baked bread before! I’m a newbie in the kitchen, relatively speaking. However, there have been lots of new things I’ve learned in reducing food waste and maximizing our grocery budget. I hope you are smiling. If there is hope for me there is hope for you too!
Best Products to Overcome Food Waste
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Having a quality grater is helpful for many tasks
Buying cheese in blocks can be cheaper than buying shredded cheese, but it is also helpful for shredding things like veggies, hard boiled eggs, garlic, frozen butter (instead of just microwaving it when baking), bread (for breadcrumbs), and other things too. This tool allows you to change the shape of the food you are using, putting it into a form that can be frozen or stored for later use! Cha-ching! Money saved.
(It can also be used for making use of random household items, such as shaving down that bar soap you never use into handsoap! See post here)
Plastic bags in a variety of sizes-freezer, sandwich, storage, gallon and quart sizes are also a cheap kitchen essential.
These are wonderful to freeze extras in-veggies, fruit, meat, etc. so you are ready for the next meal! Having these on hand allows you to quickly bag up the extra ingredient of whatever you are prepping, while you are preparing the meal-saving you time and money.
This fantastic kitchen gadget has changed my life.
It was a wedding gift that we never registered for. To be honest, I forgot about it. Cleaning out the clutter in my pantry caused this sweet thing to land in the donation pile. However, my wise brother convinced me to keep it, and when we used it to chop up some carrot sticks, my jaw dropped. The blades were so sharp and it was incredibly fast. This makes chopping up extra food that might otherwise be thrown out or go bad simple and quick. All you need to do is stick them in a storage bag after and then freeze them for future use! It’s also dishwasher friendly, which I love-because-it is time saved! I used this a few days ago to chop up a zucchini that I had forgotten about in my fridge-it took me less than 5 minutes to chop it up, bag, and freeze it and then stick the chopper in the dishwasher! I promise, it was less than 5 minutes!
The trendy Instapot
I know you’ve probably heard the buzz. However, I would like to add my opinion that the crockpot is also a wonderful thing. I haven’t said goodbye to mine yet. (But most Instapots have a setting that can be used as a crockpot, so you can get by with just this one). Sometimes I use my Instapot to cook a full meal (as long as I have the time to assemble everything beforehand). But, the Instapot can also do a lot of other great things that save you time and money in your grocery budget.
You can make yogurt
Greek or normal, for much less than what you might buy from a grocery store. We go through a lot of yogurt in our house, so this saves us a lot. Plus, you also control what sweetener you add, if any, when you make your own. I really like being able to know exactly what is in the yogurt we eat! There is a setting for yogurt that makes the process very simple. If you want Greek yogurt, consider buying a cheesecloth (it’s cheap and reusable), to use as a strainer.
You can steam vegetables quickly.
This is a win for using up those veggies you aren’t sure how to use plus it makes healthy finger foods for the littles! Steaming a whole bag of baby carrots takes this thing 10 minutes or less!
A simple gadget in your kitchen you already have.
What I love about this is that you can easily freeze smaller amounts of vegetables or fruit that might otherwise go to waste! When I buy kale, we never seem to use it all up, so I just use my Magic Bullet to mix it up (I add a bit of water or milk) and freeze it. I sneak it into smoothies or even soup. Shhhh…I’m hoping to keep this a secret from my family 🙂
Common Questions About Food Waste
How can we avoid food waste in our everyday habits?
- Plan your meals and grocery list. Buy only what you need (which is hard to do, I know!) and what will be reasonably used by your family.
- Consider having a month you “use up” the food you have stored. (I hope to do this soon with my family!)
- When eating out, think about your mindset. Consider splitting an item with someone. How many times do we order food and then not eat it? Sharing something will lower the bill and the food will more than likely be eaten.
How much food is wasted in America each year?
- THIRTY TO FORTY PERCENT. What a sobering reality check! In our freedom and gratitude to have full bellies, let’s not forget that having food in our fridge and pantries is a reality much of the world does not have. I want to be a better steward of what we have-food included! (See the resource and statistics here)
What practical things can I do today to reduce food waste?
- Use smaller plates to serve food. Having smaller portion sizes helps reduce food being thrown away. Remember, you can always have seconds!
- Store your leftovers and general food in clear storage. This will help you to clearly see what is available to eat.
- Actually eat your leftovers-even when the pizza delivery phone number is making your mouth water!
- Keep your pantry and fridge clean and clutter-free. Consider organizing these spaces in a way that shows everything you have. Let go of what you do not need or use. If possible, donate that food to someone who could use it!
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Food Waste
This problem of food waste not only impacts your everyday family life and grocery budget, but it also impacts the world. Reading those statistics on food waste was sobering for me. When we throw away food, it’s not just a loss of money, it also has an impact on our world. Stewardship is in the little things too! Even in our grocery lists and dinner-making routines, our choices matter!
Thank you for reading and for processing this issue with me. I hope you are inspired and encouraged to learn more about what food waste reduction looks like in your life. Maybe one of the kitchen gadget tools will help you do this too! What are your favorite kitchen gadgets that help you save time and money? What is your biggest challenge with food waste in your life? Please share below-I can’t wait to read what you are thinking about!