Does your refrigerator look like a toxic waste dump? How many times do you find yourself tossing out what used to be perfectly good food in the garbage because it’s gone stale, rancid or grown moldy?

Let’s admit it. No matter what type of food you choose to eat, or what program you follow, who wants to consume food that’s not delicious and at the peak of freshness? Do you? Probably not.  Me neither. In the next two posts, I’d like to share with you my secrets for…

My Happy Tummy Binge Bustin’ Recipe for Keeping Fresh and Delicious Food

Since I’ve made the choice to stop dieting, and placed a new emphasis on becoming aware of times when I eat out of stress, I no longer think of myself as a human garbage can, ready, willing and able to eat anything that’s not nailed down.  For the most part, I am in charge of what I eat and the food is not.

On the rare occasions, when I notice myself falling into a pattern of consuming more junk food, eating more chips or relying on grab and go foods, it tells me that I need to nurture myself more. For me, that translates into cooking and having on hand the foods I love.

Over the years, I’ve become a very picky eater, hyperaware of the extreme pleasure that I derive from eating fresh food. I have zero tolerance for eating anything that doesn’t taste absolutely delightful.

As a busy mom and working gal, I”ve learned a few tips that make it easier for me to enjoy having fresh and tasty food from home more often. Here are some of my food saving, quick prep and pantry preserving secrets:

Clear the clutter – Sort for freshness. Whenever you open up your refrigerator, freezer and cabinets, make it a habit to toss any foods that don’t mass muster. If those crackers you bought taste like cardboard, it’s time to replace them. Get rid of anything that has gone stale, developed freezer fuzz, freezer burn and focus on keeping foods you really love. Be honest and willing to let go of some of the things that you bought that you and your family really don’t want. That sugar free cranberry juice you bought on sale that hasn’t been touched is taking up valuable space. Get rid of it.

Buy just enough: Look for trends – In the same way that a savvy businesswoman looks for patterns and changes in order to stay on top of her market, it’s essential to do the same with your supermarket buying habits. Time is precious. If you want to spend more of your day doing things you love , you’ve got to wisely leverage the time you spend in your kitchen. That means having tasty foods ready and available for quick meals. If you have to wade through a week’s worth of leftovers and unwrap everything to figure out what you have, it’s precious time wasted.

Notice which staples and types of meals  your family is eating and enjoying. What foods are you buying that nobody is eating? For example: If your milk is always getting sour, your cereal is going stale or your cheese is getting moldy, consider buying the smaller size or investing in a food saver system. Take note of how long it takes for you and your family to consume different types of foods and choose storage systems based on your particular needs.

Leftover love – Devote a separate area of your fridge to bits and pieces of previous meal’s leftovers and label them. If you can freeze something to extend it’s shelf life, then do so. Then in another section of the fridge, place your larger items.

Make it easy – Fresh veggies are always a wonderful addition to any meal, but if you don’t set aside time to wash and prep them appropriately, your hard earned cash in the form of a head of cauliflower or a bag of celery will soon grow mold and get tossed away. In order to avoid that unnecessary pain, I suggest taking a few short cuts.

•    Invest in the pre-washed bags of greens and packages of fresh chopped veggies available in your grocery’s produce or freezer section.

•    Choose a convenient time for you sometime during the week and do some meal prep when there’s no pressure. On weekends, I love to cook stews and soups and do some baking, then throughout the rest of the week, I get to enjoy my fresh homemade goodies.

•    Make friends with your freezer – If you take time out to pre-wash, chop and dice or slice your basics like onions, celery and peppers, you can stick them in a bag in your freezer. Meal prep becomes a breeze. Note: For no tear onion chopping: if you chill your onion in the freezer for about 20 minutes before you chop it, it will suspend the gases that cause your eyes to tear.

•    Buy perishables more frequently – If you love fresh salad, then buy smaller amounts of it and use it until it is eaten.

•    Green bags and Food Preservation systems – I love ‘em. Invest in any type of food saver system that extends the life of your produce. It’s well worth it.

•    Ready, set, go – Make combinations of veggies that your family enjoys and place them already marinated in sealed baggies in the fridge. My family loves onions, broccoli, red and green peppers sautéed in garlic and olive oil or roasted in the oven with potatoes. For a quick fix prep, I keep my veggies pre-seasoned in the crisper bin in a bag always at the ready.

Now give these tips a try and let me know how they’re working for you. Tomorrow I’ll share more quick prep and organization ideas for easy breezy no fuss meals. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts and ideas. I’d love to hear your tips for food saving and making mealtimes more productive.