- Dr. Nancy
7 Strategies to Minimize Food Waste
According to the EPA, 38.1 million tons of food waste was created in 2017. It's hard to imagine how much 1 ton of food is, but 38.1 tons is unfathomable. Food waste is a problem for several reasons, and we can take small steps each day to do our part in lessening that number.
While you are throwing away your hard-earned money on food you didn't eat, you are also contributing to the methane emissions and adding to your carbon footprint. Food waste will inevitably happen, but there are several helpful tips to keep it at a minimum. Try these handy tips on how to waste less food and support the environment in the process.
1. Plan your meals
This might be obvious, but the key factor so many of us forget when planning our weekly shopping list is how many times we will use the ingredients called for in a recipe. Putting quantities on your list helps you avoid buying too much. It also will save you extra trips to the store when you realize you didn't buy enough.
If you are struggling with what to eat, you may want to personalize your food strategy. There is no one diet that works for everyone. When you know what to eat, it is easy to plan.
2. Check your inventory
Ever run to the store to get more of a particular item, only to find you had plenty of it? With dry goods like grains or legumes, it's not a big deal. But if you are eating a plant-forward diet, you wind up wasting more food if you can’t consume all your produce before it spoils. Survey your pantry and fridge first.
3. Don't bulk buy unless you're using it all
Bulk buying is useful for certain things, like toilet paper. However, take note if you are buying that super-sized bag of greens, only to throw half of it out.
If you have a large family, buying in bulk does help to minimize packaging and get the quantity you need to feed your family for the week. Purchasing large quantities can also be an advantage if you can freeze portions for future use.
4. Store food for optimum freshness
There are a few tricks you can learn about maximizing the freshness potential of fruits and vegetables in your fridge. Taking the time to properly store them once you bring them home will go a long way in preventing food waste. For example, berries shouldn't be washed until you're ready to eat them. Also, tomatoes, apples, and bananas can make other produce spoil faster -- so keep them separated.
5. Meal prep
You are never going to snack on those veggies if you don't prep them and have them at eye-level in your fridge. On the other hand, you are much more likely to call for pizza delivery if you don't have all your ingredients prepped for busy weeknights.
Take the time to prep your meals when you have some downtime. Use this food prep time to listen to your favorite podcasts or my book on audible. Find something that makes you look forward to doing it -- and it will become a mini-highlight of your week.
6. Don't give up
Don't overlook fruits and veggies past their prime. You can turn brown bananas into a treat like banana bread or muffins. Make soups, bone broth and stir-fry out of those veggies.
Composting is easy. There are some attractive compost collection bins that will fit right on your counter or under your sink. Fill it up with fruit and vegetable trimmings, eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds. Transfer to an outside composting bin when full. You will be making your own soil fertilizer to add to your vegetable garden, flower beds or potted plants. Many large cities now offer composting options to apartment and condo residents.
Remember, small steps made consistently can lead to big results. We can all do our part to support the environment and reduce our carbon footprint.