Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home
Nearly one-third of all food goes to waste globally, which is a crying shame because who doesn’t love food? In America, we’re responsible for wasting 40% of our produce. That might not seem like much individually, but when you add it up, it has a huge impact – in these size environmental terms. If food waste were its own country, greenhouse gas emissions would rank behind only the U.S. and China.
Manufacturers play a significant role in food waste, but consumers are also partly to blame. We can discuss food waste using two different lenses. According to FCRN, “Food loss is the decrease in edible food mass throughout the portion of the supply chain that leads to edible food for human consumption, including production, post-harvesting, and processing stages. Food waste occurs at the end of the food chain (i.e., during retail or final consumption), as opposed to “food loss” which refers to any reduction in edible food mass before it reaches consumers.”
In this blog post, I’ll highlight 10 things you can do to reduce food waste. However, I also want to discuss a few issues we experience with food loss–including my favorite fun party fact (which is bound to make anyone less thrilled about inviting me over).
1. Keep track of your possessions.
How often do you go to the grocery store without checking what you already have in your fridge first?
Stop what you’re doing and sit down for five minutes to make a quick meal plan. I know, I hate meal planning too. But this kind of meal planning is different–it’s more like a road map to ensure you don’t waste food. It doesn’t have to be Monday-Friday either.
I’m just asking you to open your fridge and freezer before going grocery shopping. If you open up the fridge and say, “Hey, I’ve got a tomato, a couple of carrots, and broccoli that needs to be used,” then you can consider meal ideas for the beginning of the week that would consume them.
In other words, by creating a meal plan, you save money because you only buy the ingredients you need for each recipe, rather than purchasing duplicates of items you already have.
2. Shop more efficiently:
I always end up buying more food than I actually need whenever I go grocery shopping. Does anyone else do this? Even if I only plan on cooking one meal, for some reason I’ll still buy enough ingredients to make 1-2 extra meals. And then afterward, I feel guilty because the produce is wilting and all the food is going to waste.
Thankfully, I’ve improved my grocery store habits significantly. Now, when I’m at the store, I try to put back 15% of items in my cart that I don’t need. If necessary, it’s not a big deal to pop back into the store for something small instead of purchasing everything ahead of time.
Though I go against this advice if you’re reading this post during the month it came out–since food shortages have been common and to limit grocery store visits–I still think it’s valuable information.
I’m by no means hoarding, but buying extras has become a part of my routine now.
Frozen foods are one of my favorite ways to make food last longer!
3. Proper storage:
After you’ve gone shopping, you’ll want to make sure your groceries are properly stored! This is ESSENTIAL if you want your fruits and vegetables to last as long as possible! I’m going to edit that blog article to make it easier to understand, and I’ll add more information on a variety of fruits and veggies!
4. Don’t pay attention to those dates:
The expiration dates that are often stamped on food items, such as “best by” or “sell by,” can be ignored for the most part. After all, it’s impossible for a manufacturer to know precisely when something will spoil. I think honey provides a humorous example of this phenomenon.
Honey has an expiration date, which is laughable since honey harvested thousands of years ago from ancient Egypt is still safe to consume. Furthermore, humidity, temperature, sunshine, and other factors vary in every home, so producers of many of these items merely make an educated guess.
The date isn’t always the best indicator. It’s possible that things could go south before or after that date. The only real way to tell is by using your best judgment. Is it unsightly, unpleasant, or nasty-tasting? If so, it’s probably bad — the date has nothing to do with it.
Here’s what those labels really mean:
- Sell by: The displayed product’s expiration date.
- Use by: If you want to ensure that you’re using the product at its peak quality, use it before this date. The only exception is when used on infant formula — in that case, it becomes a safety issue.
- Best by: Indicates when the product will be of the best flavor or quality. Not a safety date.
5. Save it:
If you’re feeling full and there’s still food on your plate, family members would typically be happy to take it off your hands. Otherwise, put it in a Tupperware and store it away for later rather than throwing it out.
If you’re unable to finish the food on your plate when eating out, be sure to take it home! I always bring a reusable container with me just in case I have any leftovers.
6. Keep it fresh:
One way to make your food last longer is by storing it properly. After all, if you’re not keeping it fresh, then it won’t last as long — no matter what the expiration date says.
Here are some tips for keeping your food fresher, and longer:
-Wrap cheese in parchment paper or wax paper before storing it in the fridge.
-Store herbs and spices in a cool, dark cabinet.
-Keep potatoes in a perforated bag in the fridge to prevent them from sprouting.
-Line the crisper drawer of your fridge with paper towels to absorb moisture and keep produce fresh.
7. Get creative:
There are a lot of ways to get creative with your food and make something delicious out of what would otherwise be considered scraps.
For instance, you can use vegetable peels to make homemade broth or vegetable chips. You can also save the ends of carrots, celery, and onions in a freezer bag to make soup later on.
Another great way to use up food scraps is to compost them! This is a great way to fertilize your garden and reduce your carbon footprint.
8. Meal prep:
One of the best ways to reduce food waste is by meal prepping. This involves cooking meals in advance and portioning them out into individual servings. This way, you can just grab a meal from the fridge or freezer when you’re ready to eat it, and you won’t have to worry about food going bad.
Meal prepping is also a great way to save money because you can cook in bulk and then portion out the meals into individual servings. This way, you’ll have lunch or dinner ready to go, and you won’t be tempted to order takeout.
9. Preserve it:
If you have a lot of food that you know you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad, consider preserving it. This can be done in a number of ways, including freezing, pickling, dehydrating, and canning.
Preserving food is a great way to make it last longer and reduce food waste. Plus, it’s a great way to enjoy seasonal produce all year long!
10. Donate it:
If you have food that you know you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad, consider donating it to a local food bank or soup kitchen. This is a great way to reduce food waste and help those in need.
Food banks are always in need of non-perishable food items, so this is a great way to reduce food waste and make a difference in your community.
These are just a few easy ways to reduce food waste at home. By following these tips, you can help reduce your carbon footprint and save money.