Avoiding Food Waste

brownie

Did you know that the average New South Wales household throws away $1036 worth of edible food each year? (abc.net.au) That is like taking $20 out of your purse each week and throwing it in the bin.

I hate wasting food and try my best to avoid it, but every so often I end up with a container of something dodgy lurking in the back of the fridge that needs to be thrown away. Or a smell from the food cupboard that turns out to be a wet, mushy, very old potato. Bleugh!

These are some of the ways I minimise food waste:-

  • keep leftovers visible by using see through containers
  • have a designated spot in the fridge for leftovers
  • keep the fridge organised so that food doesn’t get ‘lost’
  • have a meal plan so I don’t buy more than I need
  • use the freezer. Even if it is a single portion of food, or I think I may be using something in the next few days, freezing food ensures that it won’t go off if I forget about it or change my mind.

bananabreadSome of the ways I avoided wasting food last week:-

  • made ice blocks using coke that had gone flat.
  • baked a banana bread (in the picture above) using bananas that had gone brown. I put my brown bananas in the freezer and save them for baking.
  • I bought two bags of onions because they were $1 kilo. I chopped them up using the blender, then spooned them into ziplock bags (1 onion per bag) and put them in the freezer so that they will keep for a long time.
  • We had a leftovers for dinner on Sunday night (see below). I set it out like a buffet, and told the kids they could choose what they wanted. They thought that this was the best dinner ever!
    buffetDo you have any tips for avoiding food wastage?

Thinking outside the box.

The sun came out today after four days of rain and storms. So I did what people all over Sydney were doing – hung some washing out on the line. I wanted to wash the winter blankets before putting them on the beds, to get rid of that cupboardy odour. They now smell like fresh air and sunshine!washingpowder

As I scooped the washing powder into the machine, I thought about how I love the green colour of these containers. (Yes, it was a bit of a slow day around these parts). I started using these vintage canisters to keep my washing powder in after I began making my own. Even when I buy my washing powder ready-made, I still pour it into these canisters, because they are so much nicer to look at.dogfoodtin This is the old bread bin that I keep our dry dog food in. Molly the collie recognises the sound of the lid being opened, and rushes into the kitchen whenever she hears the clang.toothbrushesI keep our toothbrushes and toothpaste in an old Stilton cheese jar that I bought in a Scottish op-shop for £1.washingupbottlesThis is our washing up liquid and surface spray (I just use diluted washing up liquid in the spray bottle). I bought the original cleaners from Aldi ages ago, and covered them in some contact from a roll that I bought at a garage sale. When they are empty, I refill them using a bulk bottle of Aldi washing up liquid.

I love using old, repurposed or decorated containers to store my everyday things in. It is a lot more aesthetically pleasing, reduces the need to buy new storage items, and also means that you can often buy in bulk, which cuts down on unnecessary packaging.

Do you tip things out of their original packaging, or use unusual containers to store things in? I’d love to hear any ideas.

 

The homework station.

homework trolley 020

If homework at our house was a book, it’s title would be ‘100 ways to procrastinate – the ultimate guide to putting things off’.

The conversations go something like this – “I need the scissors”, “I can’t find a pencil”, “Where’s my homework book?” and “I left my pencil case at school”.

In an attempt to eliminate this daily struggle, I have created a homework station, which contains everything a little person could possibly need to complete their dreaded homework. I used this trolley, as it is bright, has three levels, and is on wheels. We keep it next to the kitchen bench, which is where the children do their homework. I like being able to keep an eye on them, and be close enough to help when needed.

Pencils, textas, crayons, scissors, eraser, sharpener, ruler and glue sticks live on the top level; homework books are in the middle; and spare paper is kept at the bottom. I try to keep it looking tidy so that the children can get straight into their work, without having to hunt around for what they need.

homework trolley 007

homework trolley 003

homework trolley 008

I use silver plant pots to hold the pencils, so the children can move them to where they are needed. These pots also help to keep everything organised. I find that the easier it is for children to put things away, the more inclined they are to do so.

I deliberately made the area as inviting as possible as I want homework to be a pleasurable experience, not something to avoid. (hmm..we’re still working on this!) I know that when my office desk is neat, clear and organised, I do feel more motivated to begin work. We also try to stick to a routine when it comes to homework. After the children have unpacked their bags, changed out of their uniforms and had something to eat, they do half an hour of homework. I like to get it out of the way, so they then have the rest of the afternoon to relax and play.

Having all of the drawing materials in the one place also means that quite often, the children will just grab some paper and the coloured pencils, and sit up at the kitchen bench to draw a picture while I am making dinner. I love chatting to them about their day as they draw and colour and create.

homework trolley 044

homework trolley 023

What tips do you have for getting children to do their homework?

Are you a procrastinator, or do you just get stuck in?

Do your creative juices flow when you see a row of perfectly sharpened, coloured pencils?

What’s for dinner?…..ask the menu board!

Are you the type of person who plans your meals a month in advance? Or do you find yourself at five o’clock standing in the kitchen wondering what on earth you can put together for dinner?   I tend to have phases of extreme organisation, which are then followed by weeks of unplanned mayhem. I think my problem so far has been the lack of an easy, simple meal-planning system. WELL…..until now, that is!

may aug 2013 082

This menu board has been an absolute sanity-saver for me. It took me about an hour to put together, and has saved me many hours since then. I used a cork board which I happened to have already mounted behind the kitchen door, and covered it with four sheets of pretty scrapbooking paper.

may aug 2013 069

The laminated menu cards sit in their little box (a recycled couscous carton) until it is their turn to be displayed on the board.

may aug 2013 070

Wooden pegs hot-glued onto the side of the corkboard hold the cards perfectly.

may aug 2013 076

On the back of each card, I have listed the ingredients needed for each meal, which makes writing my shopping list a breeze.

may aug 2013 080

As I shop weekly, this layout suits me perfectly. However, you could vary the number of pegs according to how far ahead you wish to plan.

The cards are an easy way of keeping all my regular meal ideas in the one place. As I remember past favourites, or discover new ones, I just make up a new card. They are also a good way of getting the family involved in planning the dinners for the week.

Do you use a meal planner? Or do you decide on the run? What is your family’s favourite dinner? My kids always request burritos!!

How to get stuff done.

Lately I have had so many major, time-consuming things on my ‘To Do’ list, but I have been struggling to get started on any of them.

My thought process has been something like this “Oh I really need to update the whole policy manual for work (or clean out the kids clothes drawers, or get my business accounts reconciled etc etc) , it’s going to take hours, I don’t have hours right now, so I will do it later”.

However, I have never quite been able to find the many hours I needed to complete each task. (surprise surprise!)

This weekend, the weather was wet, windy and cold. “The perfect time to get stuff done”, I thought brightly.

However, by the middle of Saturday I still had not begun any of my jobs (which were mentally growing bigger by the second).

I decided to take a different approach. Instead of thinking “I need to do [insert whole mega-task here]”, I said to myself  “I will now spend one hour …….”

This was an achievable goal.  I knew I probably would not get the whole job done in that time, but I knew I could work on it for that amount of time. Being a perfectionist, I tend to put off starting jobs if I think there is a chance I may fail. This was a way of setting myself up for success.

I started with clearing the summer clothes out of my daughters overflowing drawers. After one hour, I felt so pleased and motivated, that I kept going for another 20 minutes until it was finished. I then spent 30 minutes reconciling accounts, and another 30 minutes sorting out my sons room.

It’s amazing how success inspires you to want to do more. I was so productive today, that I am actually feeling excited about spending more time on my list of ‘jobs I don’t want to do’  tomorrow. This is a whole lot better than the usual feeling of dread that procrastination brings.

What do you need to spend one hour doing? Do you put things off, like me, or do you find it easy to  just get stuck in?

Photo via  Apartment Therapy.

Copyright (c) 2012, Teaspoons and Tinsel. All rights reserved