Waste Case

As food prices soar and more people in the world go hungry, I am more conscious than ever of the amount of food that gets thrown out each week.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the average American household throws out between $500 and $2,000 worth of food per year.

I suspect the waste in my household is even greater.

I admit to being a freshness fanatic, and rarely a day goes by that I do not hit at least one market to purchase groceries. Even with a “ buy as needed” attitude, there is a ridiculous amount of waste in our kitchen.

I set out to do a little research as to how long food can be kept before it goes bad, and I had a few surprises. Foods last longer in the refrigerator than I assumed, and the freezer does not extend food life indefinitely, as I had been previously told. Here are a few common foods, and their shelf life both refrigerated and frozen:

Food Refrigerator Freezer
Hot dogs; opened 1 week 1-2 months
Deli lunchmeat; freshly sliced or from an open package 3-5 days* although the deli manager at Whole Foods recommends 3 days only 1-2 months
Ground meats; raw 1-2 days 3-4 months
Raw poultry 1-2 days 9months for pieces/12 months if whole
Red meat; raw 3-5 days 4-6 months for chops / 6-12 months for steaks + roasts
Soups and Stews 3-4 days 2-3 months frozen
Hard cheese 3-4 weeks Not recommended
Soft cheese 1 week Not recommended
Ice cream 1-2 months
Mayo 2 months once opened Not recommended
Cooked leftovers 3-4 days Varies
Butter 1 month Up to 9 months
Milk 1 week Not recommended
Eggs 3 weeks Not recommended

This week, I am committed to reducing our family’s food waste. While I may not be comfortable keeping things around as long as this chart dictates as safe, I will be more cognizant of recycling our leftovers quickly into healthy and tasty dishes that we can consume, instead of toss.

Stay tuned for this week’s adventures as I blog about how I reduce food waste creatively.

Join the conversation, and post some of your ideas in the comment section.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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2 Responses to “Waste Case”

  1. casas en mcallen Says:

    Nice post! Keep up the informative work!

  2. julie hansen Says:

    I can’t wait to read about this journey. I am trying to do the same thing in our house.

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