Did you know the average US household wastes 286 pounds of food a year??!!
Now more than ever, it is important to be mindful of how much food waste we are generating. Food waste encompasses all of the food we throw away, mostly occurring from buying too much that ends up spoiling. While it may seem harmless, thrown out food can add up. The average US household wastes 238 pounds of food, or 21% of the food they buy, per year. Reducing food waste helps reduce methane emissions from landfills, saves you money, and conserves energy that is used to grow food. Take a look at our easy tips to help you reduce the amount of food waste in your own home.
1. PLAN AHEAD
Do you ever walk into a grocery store and have no idea what to buy for the week? The result - you end up buying things you don’t need, which often goes to waste. Instead, have a plan before shopping. Make a list of items that you’ll need for the week. If you’re not sure where to start, think of a few meal ideas, then break down what ingredients you need for each. Buying only what you need, in the long run will save you money and reduces the amount of food that ends up spoiling and going into the trash. We are all trying to avoid public places so try a grocery delivery service instead. You can plan your meals and receive your groceries, all from the comfort of your own home!
2. STORE FOOD PROPERLY
Not all fruits and vegetables were made to be stored the same. Improperly storing certain foods can lead them to spoil faster and as a result end up in the garbage. Different foods do better being stored in different places and climates. For instance, potatoes need to be stored in a cool, dry place whereas herbs do best when stored in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator. Not sure where to start? Here’s a great list to get you going and learn how to properly store your food.
3. BRING BACK LEFTOVERS
Let's make leftovers great again! Researchers have found that 23% of the food being thrown away each week is coming from prepared leftovers. Leftovers tend to get a bad rap, but as long as you are consuming them in a reasonable timeframe, it’s a great way to avoid cooking another meal. Plus, you can get creative! Leftover salad greens can make a great pesto or be put into your next green smoothie. Protein from the night before can be used in salads, tacos, or pasta! The possibilities are endless.
4. FREEZE FOOD
One of the best ways to lengthen the shelf life of food is to freeze it. Freezing food can extend it for months. You can freeze baked goods, fruit, vegetables, cheese, and so much more! Here’s how to properly freeze some of your favorite foods.
5. USE THE RINDS
You may think that tossing the rinds of fruits and vegetables is a given, but don’t go tossing them too quickly. You can use rinds in a variety of ways further reducing food waste! Want to jazz up plain water or make a cocktail? Use leftover orange rinds for a citrus twist. Instead of discarding celery or carrot rinds, use them in a stock for soup. Have a stinky garbage disposal, throw in some lemon rinds to freshen it up. Want a great DIY all purpose cleaner? Soak orange rinds in vinegar!
6. SELL BY VS. BEST BUY DATES
Not all expiration dates are created the same! Knowing the distinction between expiration dates can be one of the most beneficial ways to extend the shelf life of some of your foods. When you see “sell by” this is just referring to when the product should be sold in grocery stores and has no effect on the safety of the food. “Best by” dates include the best time to enjoy food based on quality and are also not an indication of safety. The only one to really follow is “Use by”. However, many foods can be safe when consumed several days past expiration since it is not regulated by the US government. What doesn’t adhere to this though is baby formula. If a product is spoiled, has an odd odor, texture, or mold, it’s best to not consume.
A great eco-friendly way to reduce food waste is to compost! Composting is organic material that is used to help soil grow. This includes anything from vegetable and fruit food scraps, coffee grounds, and even grass clippings. Not only is composting a great way to reduce food waste that just ends up in landfills, but it is also great for soil. If you have yard space, you can dedicate a shady, dry spot to a compost pile. On the other hand if you don’t have yard space, you can look into various types of composting bins.
8. DIY (SKINCARE & CRAFTS)
A fun way to reduce food waste can be in the form of DIY! This can include anything from face masks to crafts for the kids. Great face masks include using ingredients such as coffee grounds, avocado, honey, and more. You can find some great face mask combinations here. Or they can be used for crafting! Food scraps can be used as natural clothing dye or as a makeshift stamp for cards.
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