I think one of the biggest threats to frugal cooking and avoiding food waste is hiding things from yourself. So many times I've heard other people say, "I had to toss ______ because I found it hidden in the back of the (fridge, cabinet, pantry, etc.)" In fact I've done it myself.
Since I know this "out of sight, out of mind" tendency is pretty common and I'm not immune to it myself I've worked on a plan to avoid waste. I've tested my plan for 3 months now and in that time I've found that less and less is being wasted.
What did I do?
I have a "bits" basket that sits on the counter. Even though the basket in and of itself isn't ugly, there are far prettier things to line a basket with that bits of food, but the prettier things won't help me combat waste.
What is in my basket?
1/2 of a package of dried blackeyed peas
1/2 of a package of Great Northern beans
1/3 of a package of mint chocolate chips
1/2 of a package of peanut butter chips
1 slice of bread
1/2 of a package or corn tortillas
1 lone graham cracker
1/2 of a sleeve of saltines
I use this basket to hold these things and keep them in my line of sight. When we bake sweets I always check the basket first for add ins. When I need bread crumbs I check the basket first for bread. When we want a snack I check the basket for crackers or use the tortillas to make chips. (It irks me to no end to find two or three partially eaten sleeves of crackers that are all stale....just because someone forgot they put them in the cabinet.) The beans are out as a reminder to me that I need to use these up before I open more.
Now if I could just figure out a way to avoid losing something in the fridge...lol. I'm getting better, but still I had to toss a cucumber this week and I felt so horrible about it.
How do you make sure that you don't lose food?