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King Co.: Waste Not, Want Not; Shop Smart and Eat What You Buy

Dean Fosdick
Associated Press

Imagine your weekly grocery trip. You come home with four bags, but instead of putting it all away, you throw out one full bag of food.

That’s effectively what the average American household disposes of each week.  And the habit is costing us money, and maybe even our sanity.

Jennifer Sawade recently read that kale was good for you. So she decided to buy—OK, not just some. 

“I went and bought this huge bag of kale,” she said.

But when she came home, Swade realized she didn’t know how to cook with it.

“It caused me anxiety to open up the fridge and see this tremendous amount of kale,” she said.

Enter Jackie Freeman. The chef is working with King County to help people cut down on food waste. She made the trip to Sawade’s kitchen.

“The average American family tosses out about 25 percent of the food they buy, which amounts to about $30 each week in wasted food,” said Freeman.

Freeman says whether it’s wilted kale or fading leftovers, most food could have been eaten or not purchased in the first place.

“I know a lot of the times we go to the store and we have a can of beans on our list, and then we end up buying three or four more (cans of) beans because we think we need that many, and then we get home and we already find we have two jars at home,” she said.

Freeman says old-fashioned tips like freezing food that’s about to go bad and shopping on a full stomach helps. She also helped Sawade by moving food on the verge of going bad to the front of the fridge in an “eat now” box.

But what to do with all that kale?

“She made us this chicken tortilla soup that was to die for. Purely leftovers like kale,” she said.

Freeman’s ideas will be available through King County. In case you’re wondering, her favorite go-to dish for waning refrigerator remnants is frittata, an Italian-style omelet.