Minimize Food Waste

Did you know that about 1/3 of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted every year? (source).  According to the USDA food waste in the United States is an estimated 30-40% of the food supply, with $161 billion worth of food in 2010 at the retail and consumer level.  Obviously this has a huge economic impact around the world.  All of this food that could have been used to feed so many families is being sent to the landfill instead.  The environmental impact with food waste is huge.   Making food uses up large amounts of water, land and even fertilizers.  These resources are then wasted as they are thrown in the landfill.

The food in landfills decomposes and emits methane, a poisonous greenhouse gas. Globally, methane gas from food waste makes up seven percent of total greenhouse emissions. If the food had been composted properly, it would have emitted carbon dioxide, which is a less potent greenhouse gas. -Waste Wise Products

With all the things that negatively contribute to our environmental impact, food waste seems like a such an easy problem to fix.  Below we have outlined a few ways to help minimize food waste in your home.

  1.  Meal Plan:  
    • Meal planning can help you see exactly what you need when you go grocery shopping.  It can also help you coordinate ingredients in your recipes so that you can be sure you use that ingredient all the way.
    • If a recipe calls for a random ingredient that you never use, look for more common swaps.
    • Once a week, plan a “clean out the fridge” recipe so that you can use up any leftovers or vegetables.  Making a vegetable soup or a frittata with all your leftover veggies is a perfect way to ensure you aren’t tossing out old food!
  2. Be smart when grocery shopping:
    • Only buy what you need.  Sometimes seeing great deals on bulk items seems like a great money saving tip, but whether you can use it all before it spoils is another question.
    • Some stores offer “ugly” produce at a cheaper price.  Let’s face it, appearance is huge in this country and around the world and that imperfect produce can often times be overlooked.  Just because something may look ugly or imperfect, doesn’t mean it tastes bad.  Companies like Imperfect Produce are helping to cut down on food waste by selling boxes of ugly produce, delivered right to your door.  Not only does this help cut back on food waste, but it helps support the farmers.  The best part is that they have options for both conventional and organic produce!
  3. Keep your fridge organized 
    • Try to keep older food in the front of the fridge so that gets eaten up first.
    • Keeping your refrigerator organized, and clutter free, helps you see what you have.  My husband that can look in the fridge and tell me there is nothing to eat, whereas I can go in and find ingredients to make a meal.  Unless it is in his direct line of sight, he will overlook it.
  4. Portion control!
    • Do you ever make a plate that is just too large for your stomach?  Usually the uneaten food on your plate gets tossed out.  Starting small initially ensures that you finish the food on your plate completely and gives your stomach a chance to catch up to what your mind is telling you.  You can always help your self to seconds if you are still hungry.
    • When eating out, opt to split a meal to cut down on waste.
  5. Store food properly
    • If you are always throwing out stale crackers or chips, storing them in airtight containers can ensure they taste fresh until the last bite!
    • Separate produce.  Did you know that some produce produces ethylene gas as it ripens and that some are sensitive to ethylene gas?  Keep your gas producers, like peaches, bananas, avocado, pears, and tomatoes, away from more sensitive produce like potatoes, leafy greans, berries, apples, cucumbers, and broccoli.
    • Some produce doesn’t require refrigerating. Refrigeration can speed the spoilage rate, change the texture, and even lower the nutritional content.  This produce includes potatoes, avocados, berries, tomatoes, bananas, apples, citrus, garlic, melon, and onion.
  6. Utilize everything!
    • Save the ends of your vegetables in a freezer safe container.  When you have enough saved up, they can be used to make a delicious broth.  Add in bones from your meat and you can make your own bone broth.
    • Make smoothies and juices using overripe fruit and the ends and stems of vegetables.
    • Overripe fruits and vegetables may not taste great on their own, but can easily be used in other recipes.  Bananas can be used to make banana bread or banana ice cream.  Apples are great as a natural sweetener for muffins or making apple sauce.  Tomatoes can be used up to make a tasty marinara sauce.
    • Eat your yolks!  The yolk is the most nutritious part of the egg and contains almost every essential vitamin and mineral.  Yes they are high in cholesterol, but the real threat to high cholesterol in our bodies comes from trans fats and added sugars.  Cholesterol from meat and eggs is needed to build muscle and helps to increase energy.
    • Even coffee grounds can be reused.  Coffee grounds can be used at a fertilizer and pest repellent.  Place them in the back of your fridge to soak up odors.  You can even use them as an exfoliant for your skin.  Just mix with a little water or coconut oil for a nice body scrub!
  7. Use your freezer
    • Freeze leftovers for a quick meal when you are low on time.
    • Add chopped up herbs to an ice cube tray with some olive oil.  These can be added to a dish later for some fresh flavor.
    • If you buy tomato paste in a can, it can be hard to use it all up before it goes bad.  Portion out any leftover paste into 1/2 teaspoon measurements and freeze for later use.
  8. Eat your leftovers
    • We love utilizing our leftovers for lunches the next day.  As we are cleaning up from dinner, we portion out any leftover food for the next days lunch.  It is so simple to do and saves money so you don’t eat out!
  9. Donate unused food
    • Donate non-perishable items to food banks.
    • Many cities have food rescue programs that will take your perishable food and distribute to local agencies and shelters.
    • Some farms will also take food scraps to feed to their animals.
  10. Compost
    • Composting is a great way to add beneficial nutrients to your soil, all while utilizing food scraps that would have gone to waste.
    • Here is a good article from Rodale’s Organic Life if you are interested in learning about composting.

We hope that you feel inspired to make some changes in your own home.  Please share with us how you minimize food waste in your home in the comments below!

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