Food waste is a growing problem contributing to our strain on natural resources. However, food waste can be eliminated or at least reduced with our help. Small steps can make a significant difference if we pay more attention to our relationship with the food we purchase and consume.
1. Storage Solutions
Knowing how and where to store food can save it from spoiling. You shouldn’t keep potatoes next to onions because they will make them sprout faster. Bananas will make other fruits ripen faster when stored next to them. Once they’re ripe, you should move them to the refrigerator. Celery should be in a glass of water in the fridge.
2. Shop Intentionally
If you dislike grocery shopping as much as the next person, it can be difficult to shop intentionally for food. You want to get what you can while you’re there to eliminate the possibility that you might have to come back for more soon.
This is not a good way to reduce food waste. It’s the opposite, really. You should be mindful while you shop for food, especially for produce. It goes bad pretty easily, so while you may have good intentions, if you’re not going to eat it, don’t buy it.
Leftovers are the best way to reduce food waste and cut down on time spent cooking. You can utilize leftover food to heat and serve again or you can recreate a new meal using leftover ingredients. If you use egg whites for anything, there are multiple ways you can use leftover egg yolks to incorporate into other dishes, including making homemade mayonnaise.
4. Make Smoothies
Smoothies are a great alternative to throwing out fruits and vegetables that have almost reached their expiration date. You could use them to make juice. Once fruits or vegetables begin to bruise, they don’t look as appealing and appetizing as they did when they were purchased. Contrary to popular belief, they do still taste the same. Blend them up into a delicious smoothie to see for yourself.
5. Take Inventory
Make a shopping list before you go to the store so you don’t impulse buy items that will go to waste. Take an inventory in your kitchen so you know what you need versus what you already have.
Also, try keeping a revolving list on your refrigerator, such as a magnetic notebook or a dry erase board, to which the whole family can add ingredients when they use the last of something or want something new to eat.
6. Rotate Your Food
Use the first in, first out (FIFO) rotating food system in your home to reduce food waste and keep your kitchen organized. When you get home from shopping, put your freshest food in the back of the fridge or pantry to push the older stuff to the front. This way, it will be easier to know what food needs to be consumed first.
7. Make a Menu
You can plan accordingly by making a weekly or even monthly menu for your meals. When you know what ingredients you need and when you need them, you can avoid buying them too early and potentially wasting them. Making a menu can also help you to incorporate ingredients you already have that need to be used before they reach their expiration date.
8. Understand Expiration Dates
Over 20% of food waste is contributed by people who don’t understand the date on their food labels. Expiration dates and “best by” dates are not the same. Your fruit could say it’s past its prime but look fresh and plump. These dates are merely an estimate. Use your best judgment. If it looks edible, don’t waste it!
9. Check Your Settings
Your refrigerator should be set to 40°F or below and your freezer should be set to 0°F. This ensures the food they store remains safe and at an appropriate temperature for freshness and optimal results. Your freezer should be utilized at every opportunity. Freezers represent a pause button for your food that isn’t ready to be consumed yet.
10. Buy Local
Get to know your local farmers and know more about food production. There’s more to the process than you might think. You might gain a newfound respect for the food you eat. Buying local helps reduce food waste and reduce pollution caused by delivery trucks to your area. It also helps support local businesses in your community.
Also Consider Donating
If you overindulge at the market or have too much left over from a recipe, consider donating to local food banks. You could even take leftovers to your neighbors to cut down on food waste. There are many options to reduce the food waste our economy experiences each day.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.
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