Starting this Wednesday, May 6, in the Dinner For A Dollar Facebook Group, we’ll be launching our second annual #FridgeCheck Challenge!

This is such a fun way to inspire our group members to follow one of the core principles of the Dinner For A Dollar system – cutting down on food waste (and thus your food cost) by regularly checking for anything about to go bad in your fridge.

Participating is simple.

  1. All you have to do is check through your fridge for 2-3 minutes every 2-3 days, and find anything about to go bad.
  2. Then, you have to take a picture of the ingredient and how you transform it so it can still be used!
  3. Use #fridgecheck on your post!

We had such creative ideas come from this exercise last year, from making crockpot applesauce from old apples to pizza dough made with a little leftover mozzarella and an egg! And of course, a ton of food was saved from being tossed into the trash, and ended up being incorporated into quiches, tacos, salads, and soups instead! When you think about it, it’s almost like getting a free bonus meal when you’re able to whip up something unexpected and creative from items that would otherwise go to waste!

To make the challenge even more interesting, I’ll be awarding a prize to one winner chosen at random – a FREE copy of my award-winning book, Dinner For A Dollar, in ebook format! In this book, I show you how I feed my family a simple, allergy-friendly, whole-food diet with loads of fruits and veggies for $1 per person per meal.

I used to be a HUGE waster of food, but now, for the most part, we have our waste very well controlled.

I did 2 things to really help reduce our waste…

  1. First of all, I sat down and looked at all the reasons that I was wasting food. This was really hard! I had to be honest with myself about my bad habits. And then, I worked at creating NEW food habits that led to less waste. This was a process and took some time. Changing habits takes time and intention!
  2. The second main way I reduce waste is by doing my own fridge check every few days. I take just 2-3 minutes to see what needs to be used up in my fridge before it goes bad. And, right then, I make a plan for how to use it up. By doing a fridge check regularly, I keep a pulse on my food and nothing really surprisingly ends up as a pile of green goop in the bottom of my fridge.

Last year, after our group #FridgeCheck Challenge ended, I asked everyone to share what their own favorite tips were for cutting down on food waste.

We got a ton of great responses, so I thought I’d share them here.

“I put leftover vegetables in a freezer container, and when the container is full I make soup or beef stew. Leftover meat turns into hot pockets or knish. Knish is a hot pocket with a Jewish heritage so recipes are online everywhere. I add anything, meat, mash potatoes, gravy.” – Leslie

“I have been trying to buy less fresh produce. I know we all see those Instagram fridges where they are stuffed to the brim. Shopping day is on Friday. I make up snack bags and bowls of grapes, blueberries, etc. on Sunday. I have gotten better about buying what my family needs. If I need 1 box of berries I will buy 1 box of berries. It has been hard for me to not buy more just in case. Also KISS with the meal plan. It is ok to have PBJ on the menu.” – Julie

“I have been forcing myself to use up what we have instead of going and getting something quicker and easier like take out. And I have committed to only grocery shopping once a week instead of every couple of days, which forces us to use things up more. I try and send things that need to be used up in my husband’s lunch creatively! Luckily he isn’t picky- he calls it a snatch and grab lunch because I’m snatching and grabbing random things to put in his bag.” – Suzi

“I change up the leftovers. Leftover meatballs and marinara (spaghetti) gets pizza sauce and pepperoni added to make French bread pizzas. Leftover baked ham goes into the crockpot with potatoes and onions for a casserole. My family is a lot more receptive to eating things again when they are transformed. I also use painters tape to label lunch size servings and put them in the freezer.” – Bridget

“My number one tip is to Get Rid Of Your “Will Not” Food Rules. I hear people say ALL THE TIME that they or their families “will not” eat leftovers. This is the number one and most obvious way to reduce food waste. You have to start eating the leftovers. Our family is two adults, plus one ten and one two year old so if I make a casserole or something, it’s often enough for two meals. For example, last week I made a pasta casserole (tossing the leftover meatloaf from the night before into the sauce!) and we ate on it Monday, lunches Tuesday, NEW DINNER Tuesday night (this helps us feel like we’re breaking it up) then the rest of the pasta casserole Wednesday night and Thursday lunch. If you just cannot eat it again, FREEZE IT! A second fridge/freezer is a must have for us. So many things freeze well, fruits & veggies, berries, herbs, cake frosting, beans, casseroles and especially SOUPS! I often will make a ‘kitchen sink’ soup or casserole and we’ll eat it once and freeze the rest, I have like three varieties of soup in my freezer right now: Kitchen Sink chicken noodle, Thanksgiving soup (from my Thanksgiving in April meal, thanks sale turkey!) and crawfish chowder (from our annual Mother’s Day low country boil!). “Will Not” eat frozen food? Hard to reduce waste. Gotta watch those “will not” rules, amirite?” – Laurie

“Meal planning.” – Marissa

“I started when my girls were still home a night called Buffet Night. I would pull all leftovers out, reheat and place on the counter. Everyone got to go and choose what they were going to place on their plate and we ate that. What was left from that I then decided the best way to add it to other dishes (like soup) etc… Now there are 2 of us and we don’t have to do it very often now since I am making smaller amounts.” – Loyda

“I plan for the possible leftover transformations with each meal. Example: 1st meal meatballs and pasta, meatballs and sauce together but pasta separate for serving. Now I can transform the leftovers into meat sauce or pasta salad, whichever has the larger quantity.” –  Beth

“These things help me: Planning meals and sticking to them, and Sharpie Marker – dates opened on food.” – Donna

“I wash and put out on the table any produce that needs to eaten soon, the kids see it and will eat it. Also, my number one tip is putting on the menu the night before your grocery shopping day a meal that uses a ton of vegetables but not specific ones like a soup or stir fry or fried rice and you can basically just cook up whatever veggies you have that need to be used.” – Krista

So what’s YOUR number one tip for reducing food waste?

Be sure to join our Facebook Group and share it with us to take part in the next #FridgeCheck Challenge!

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