It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve got a pot of tomatoes bubbling away on the stove. Doug picked more than 20lbs this morning, his tomatoes are producing well this year – producing far more than we can possibly eat, but I don’t want to compost any of them! Instead, I’m cooking them down and will can them into a thick tomato sauce later this evening. Making a homemade tomato sauce that we’ll use on pizza, pasta and curries all year long.

On average Canadians throw away a quarter of the vegetables that we buy – it’s expensive and wasteful, even worse if you’ve grown the food yourself.

To prevent food waste, we need to get smarter about what we eat. Before you start planning dinner do a quick inventory of what’s on the counter, or in the fridge, and eat the most perishable things first.

But sometimes planning alone isn’t enough and you find yourself overwhelmed, then it becomes time to either share the bounty with others, or put up food for the freezer or pantry. The tomato sauce I’m making doesn’t require a lot of attention – I just need to give it a stir once in a while. After about six hours it will be perfect for us, and I’ll can it in the pressure canner – 15 minutes at 10lbs pressure, then its good in the pantry till we need sauce. If I had freezer space, I could just bag up the cooled sauce and freeze it. But, the freezers are full with Salmon (waiting to be smoked) and Blueberries from this years bumper crop, as well as dozens and dozens of jars of basil pesto (we had a huge basil crop this year as well as tomatoes).

Before you spend tons of time canning, dehydrating or freezing – stop and think about what you are making. I put up tomato sauce and pesto, because we eat a lot of it in this family. A few years ago someone gave me a tub of fresh corn that I made into an amazing Corn relish. I love it, but no one else does. So I’m still working my way through the jars. The same goes for jams and jellies – they are a great way to preserve the fruit harvest, but if you are more of a smoothie person, than a toast and jam person, just freeze the fruit instead of jamming it. Before you stock your pantry, you need to think about you and your family and what you eat.

The same goes for pantry staples too. Keeping a well stocked pantry lets you be flexible when it comes to creating dinner out of the most perishable thing in your fridge, and lets you cope when you can’t get to town for a few weeks, but there’s no point stocking your pantry with things you don’t eat, that’s just another waste of money and food.