I hate wasting food, and I try to avoid it at all costs, especially since North America is a big culprit for food waste. According to the NRDC there has been a 50% rise in food waste since the 70s, with Americans throwing out 40% of their food supply – now that includes restaurants and grocery stores and every single person in America, which can make the task of cutting down food waste a bit daunting. Luckily, everyone can do a little something to make a big difference when it comes to food waste, and here are 10 tips to help you out:
- Track what you throw away: First things first, (I’m the realest) in order to see what you end up throwing away or any wasteful habits you may have developed, write down everything you throw away for a few weeks, see if you notice any habits, or any foods that you frequently end up tossing.
- Plan ahead: make a meal plan for a few days in advance and be sure to use a grocery list when your shop, which will help reduce impulse buys.
- Buy only what you need: bulk sections are great for this, buying in bulk usually refers to buying a lot, but I have often times grabbed maybe a ¼ cup of pecans, or the tiniest amount of cranberries – just enough for whatever I’m making. This also means buying less, more often. I have my pantry stocked on big grocery trips but I’ll often run out to the store a couple times a week for anything perishable like fruit and vegetables.
- FIFO: which stands for first in, first out, a system used by most restaurants and grocery stores. Basically, when you restock your fridge of pantry bring everything old to the front, and put the new stuff at the back so you are more likely to use up the old stuff first.
- Store food properly: airtight containers to keep crackers fresh, storing fresh herbs with a bit of water, refrigerate what needs to be refrigerated – foods will usually be labeled with proper storing directions, but when in doubt Google it.
- Freeze: Pizza, veggies, pies, baked goods, sauces, stews, soups – you can freeze almost anything, so if you think something may go bad before you get a chance to eat it just freeze it, you can always defrost it later.
7. Make an “eat this soon” list: put it on the fridge in plain view, maybe next to your grocery list so you know what not to buy. This will remind you of food you may have forgotten that you had – I refuse to believe I’m the only one who finds leftovers weeks later behind a bunch of condiment bottles.
8. Keep your perishables in view: if the list system doesn’t work, then you will definitely remember that you have to eat those berries if they are right in your face when you open the fridge.
9. Scrounge night: or at least, that’s what we called it in my house when I was growing up. Basically, you should dedicate a meal to using up leftovers and cleaning out your fridge. If you’ve read any of my recipe posts, you’ll see that I will oftentimes repurpose my leftovers into a specific meal or type of muffin. I usually just throw stuff together and make up my own recipe, but for those who are less adventurous or need a recipe, just type in some keywords into foodgawker and see what recipes pop up.
10. Take smaller portions – at home, dish out less and go back for seconds. When eating out, share or split dishes, and don’t be afraid to doggy bag.
Hopefully these tips will help you cut down on food waste, and if you want to watch a really awesome documentary about a couple taking it to extremes to avoid food waste, check out Just Eat It, which played at HotDocs this past April.
Sources: (other than my brilliant mind)