Food waste is a pet peeve of mine. In a world where hunger is a problem millions of people face every day, it’s criminal to allow food to go uneaten, to spoil, to be thrown out. It really annoys me when I end up wasting money not only on uneaten leftover, but containers that are just too frightening to clean. That’s why I have a new favorite bullet journal tracker.
I do want to say that I have tried many things in an attempt to manage my pantry and refrigerator. Things as simple as putting a piece of masking tape with the date on a container of leftovers. The problem is, that requires me to look through the fridge at those dates. The most success I’ve had is in cooking smaller portions so we don’t have leftovers. Around the holidays, though, that can be unavoidable. And let’s face it, sometimes leftovers are desirable.
While I plan meals and shopping lists pretty tightly, I do make what I call “opportunity buys”. Not impulse buys. See, while we have great grocery stores here in Finland, it isn’t the same as in the United States. In America you can buy anything you want, any time you want, because consumers demand it. Here, quality beats quantity. Seasonality rules. You can get great strawberries during strawberry season, for example. Out of season, though? Probably not.
An opportunity buy is when I’m walking through the store and see something that might not be there next time. So I buy it. Because it’s usually produce, we eat it that day or the next. The problem is, because it’s not part of the shopping list or the meal plan, I forget about it. At least, I forget about it until a few days later when it’s gone bad.
My New Favorite Bullet Journal Tracker
So I added a spread to my bullet journal, and I just labelled it “Food”. On each page I have two columns. One is for the things that need to be made into something. The other is for leftovers. Everything gets the date listed next to it. I already do the meal planning for the day in the morning, because things are subject to change. I’m not going to cook something new for lunch if I know there are leftover from last night that need to be eaten. The problem is, I don’t always remember these things when I’m still sipping my first cup of coffee.
Because I start my day in my weekly spread, I have a mini-index there. It lists current projects and trackers, along with the page numbers. This is so I remember to touch those things. I simply added the “Food” page to that mini-index. Now I can look and see that, oh yeah, we need to eat those strawberries. We can have the leftover stuffing and green beans for lunch.
When those things get eaten, they get checked off. Even without the dates, I can see when something closer to the top is still an “open loop”. Maybe it was skipped over because it’s less perishable than other things below it on the list. It suddenly becomes a priority.
So Far, So Good
This has been working for me. It’s allowed me to make more accurate grocery lists, because I can see what I still have before buying more. Things still go bad sometimes — we’ve all had the experience of buying berries one day, only to discover they’ve sprouted mold by the next morning, haven’t we? It’s a lot less food waste, though. My fridge looks empty, but it’s because I’m better able to gauge how fast we eat things, and can adjust the amount that I buy.