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Tips to stop wasting food, revive perishables

April 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Environmental Protection Agency emphasizes the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle to put end to a serious food wasting problem in America. One local author says an easy way to get started is to revive 'dead food.' "We're throwing away 12 percent of the food we buy which averages $600 per family," said Elizabeth Rogers, author of 'Shift Your Habit.'

While most of us don't intentionally waste food Rogers says tiny kitchen mistakes can add up to a loss of big bucks. Her new book offers easy ways to put that cash back in your pocket.

"There's simple little things we can do to stop wasting food, to revive dead food, to extend the life of our perishables," said Rogers.

For example, soaking wilted greens in cold water for 30 minutes shocks and revives them for a green salad or sandwich.

Rock hard dried fruit that sat too long in the pantry can soften by pouring boiling water over the fruit in a Pyrex bowl, to soak a bit.

In addition, try washing other produce in a bowl of water, vinegar and a dash of salt. This not only cleans them but helps extend the life of your perishables as well.

When it comes to those stale boxes of cereal, chips or nuts, they can have a second chance with a small trick.

"Put them on a cookie sheet, bake them for 3 to 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Put them in an airtight container. You get an extra 3 to 5 days doing that," said Rogers.

On the flip side, putting a piece of bread in with cookies in an airtight container can keep the cookies fresh and moist.

And if something looks like it's on the verge of spoiling, freeze it. For example, with bread that you won't use immediately, slice it and put it on ice.

Fruit pushing past its prime can also be chopped up and frozen for smoothies. In addition, jars containing a scant amount of sauce or dressing can be frozen in ice cube trays to add to a future recipe.

Researches claim we currently waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl every day. Since 1974, our wastefulness has increased by about 50 percent.

To fight back, it helps to use a shopping list, create a week of meal plans and resist impulse buys along with reviving dead food and cooking once and eating twice.

"If you just eat one meal a week of leftovers, figure you're going to save about $10 a week. That's about $520 you can save," Rogers said.