When I was a kid I spent a lot of time with my Grandparents, and I don’t know that I could ever find the words to explain how thankful I am for that. I have so many great memories of our time together. But, above all else, they taught me some very important lessons. One of them being “Waste Not, Want Not”, which My Grandma would iterate quite frequently.
Until now, I never actually knew what that meant or how important it was.
Which brings me to this article. I’ll explain what it means, where it originated, and how we can actively live by these words with 5 simple and amazing products that I personally recommend.
What does Waste Not, Want Not mean?
By definition, the statement means…
If you use a commodity or resource carefully and without extravagance you will never be in need.
I had to really think about that for a minute. While I heard this on multiple occasions growing up, the true meaning never really resonated with me until now. Hopefully for all of us, this is one of those, “it’s never too late.” scenarios.
Let’s break this down even further into an example. Say you’re making a recipe that calls for half an onion. You cut the onion in half and go to the pantry or drawer. You’re quickly reminded that you forgot to get more ziplock bags. The thought of another container in the fridge and the stink of an onion is unbearable.
So you toss out that half of the onion and go about prepping the meal.
But then tomorrow morning rolls around and you’re making breakfast for the family. Certainly you could chop up that onion and add it to some hash, eggs, or whatever you’re making.
Now you don’t have it.
So in other words, Waste No Onion, Want No Onion or Waste No Onion, Need No Onion.
While this may seem inconsequential, here’s a fact that we all need to come to terms with. Per the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family of four throws out $1,600 a year worth of produce.
I think we can do better…waste not, want not…Right?
Today, American’s throw out 80 billion pounds of food every year. At the same time we have 37 million Americans suffering from food scarcity.
Can you visualize 80 billion pounds of food?
I know I can’t!
While those numbers are completely unfathomable, it’s important to understand our past and how to use it for our future.
Where did Waste Not, Want Not originate?
Let’s start with the history of the saying and where it originated.
Waste not, want not was first first documented in 1772.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say thats well before any of our elders were using this statement.
in 1932, waste not, want not was also used in a book by Thorne Smith entitled ‘Topper Takes a Trip‘. Which is more than likely where it became a popular saying within our time.
Think back to what the conditions were like for those growing up in the thirties. It’s a quick reminder of how different things were.
With the great depression beginning in 1929. Then World War 2 spanning from ’39 – ’45, it was a difficult time for America, to say the least.
Our elders were taught a very hard lesson in appreciation. They learned quickly that wasting the little that they did have was not an option.
Now, we could contemplate the reasons why these values haven’t fully been passed down through our generations. But it’s a moot point.
It’s up to us to instill this in ourselves and the future generations to come.
How to Live More Sustainably
I certainly don’t have all the answers on how to live more sustainably.
However, if my family and I can make a difference and truly lead a waste not, want not lifestyle, then you better believe we’re gonna do it!
That’s why I’ve compiled this list of our go-to’s when it comes to reducing food waste.
#1 Food Huggers
First on the list is an amazing product called Food Huggers. These easy and fun to use products embody the entire Waste not, Want not concept.
I recommend taking a quick read through Food Huggers ‘About Us’ page.
You’ll quickly learn what the company stands for and why their products have been created in the first place.
They’re on a mission to save food and the items otherwise wasted in an attempt to keep food from spoiling.
The days of land filling plastic bags, plastic wrap, foil, and produce are finally over thanks to this brilliant invention. Simply place a Food Hugger over that onion we discussed earlier. While NOT stinking up the fridge, it WILL stay fresh much longer and be there when you need it!
In addition to onions, my family has personally used them on avocados, lemons, limes, oranges, and even opened cans.
They go way beyond food and garbage waste.
The cans of food that would’ve normally been emptied into a plastic container are now simply…hugged. Which in turn produces less dirty dishes and saves on water usage as well.
We LOVE Food Huggers and have nothing but amazing things to say about their products and their mission.
I highly recommend them!
Second on the list is another product that we use very frequently in the Chicken Fried Kitchen household. The Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer has been a close friend of ours for years now.
In today’s world of big box stores and bulk everything, it’s an essential kitchen tool. I love to make my own sausage, grill, & cook for company.
Being able to always have meat on hand and keep it fresh for months is huge for me.
Some may say that throwing a product in a regular freezer bag works but it’s actually much different.
For example, when freezing Beef or poultry in a regular freezer bag it’ll stay fresh for about 6 months. When vacuum sealing that same meat the freshness lasts 2 – 3 years.
In addition to bulk buying & cooking, think of all the leftovers you could be saving! Instead of throwing those uneaten ribs out, vacuum seal them and save them for your next BBQ Craving.
Which brings me to my last point. If you’re looking to save money and reduce food waste this is it! Buy in bulk, shop sales, vacuum seal what you don’t use immediately, and save thousands every year.
Much like ‘Waste not, Want not’ the bread box is nothing new. In fact, is was patented by Stanley Walter Krebs in 1918. I know my grandparents had one as I’m sure most of yours did as well.
Then along came the preservatives. Today store bought bread will last weeks if not months on the shelf of your pantry. Unfortunately, those preservatives aren’t as anti-aging for our bodies as they are for the bread we consume.
Now, being the Owner and Head Baker of Chicken Fried Kitchen’s Lindale Bagel Box, I may be biased. However, it’s healthier to consume freshly made bread with only natural ingredients and it supports small business.
I think the main concern is keeping that bread fresh. Well worry no more!
A bread box is designed to keep your fresh bread…fresh.
It does this by trapping some moisture in, keeping the bread from drying out. On the flip side, it also allows moisture to escape keeping the outside crusty like an artisan loaf should be.
Again, another way to reduce waste of food and plastic that ends up in a landfill or our Oceans.
I hate how quickly lettuce and other leafy greens go bad. Probably more than anything else. I’m not even gonna lie, I’ve used it as an excuse for not eating more of it!
Those days are well over! With the rubbermaid produce container you can easily store your leafy vegetables in the ideal environment. Which of course will save you money, time, and waste.
No more tossing out brown lettuce. Simply place it in the box and stick it in the fridge. The built in filter is said to last a lifetime and the container is BPA free.
Now you can enjoy salads, burger toppers, and lettuce wraps for a much longer period of time!
Lastly, the good ole potato bag! It’s extremely aggravating to go to the pantry just to realize that your gigantic sack of potatoes have sprouted.
Worse yet, completely gone bad.
If you’ve been told that a sprouted potato is inedible then you’ve probably wasted a lot of potatoes. I’ve been there myself. The way to truly tell is by the firmness of the potato. If it’s still firm then simply cut the sprouted sections out and use the rest. Same goes for the green sections.
However, you’ll also want to be sure that they last as long as possible. This is where the Potato Bag comes in. Made from natural cotton, it remains breathable while blocking light from your potatoes. This increases the shelf life quite a bit.
The other features that I love about the Evriholder Potato Bag is the drawstring placement. These allow for easy loading from the top and quick access from the bottom.
Take your potato preservation even further by keeping them well away from onions but add an apple to Potato Bag. The apple will help keep the potatoes from sprouting.
The statement ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ has been replaced with a whole slew of buzzwords surrounding the Sustainability Movement. However, it shouldn’t be lost nor forgotten. It’s extremely important that we learn from our past while also respecting the history.
The struggle was real for our ancestors and elders and that’s not to be forgotten. Let’s take a lesson from their playbook and be more conscientious about the decisions that we make.
At the push of a button we have access to yesterday’s tried and true, as well as today’s genius inventions.
I believe it’s worth the investment.