It should be easy enough to not waste food. You buy what you want, make only enough to eat and use it all or store it properly before it goes bad. The reality is a bit different. According to the USDA about 30-40 percent of food in the US goes to waste each year. That’s about 161 billion dollars worth of food. Food that wastes energy and resources, food that ends up in landfills, generating methane and making it the third largest source of methane in the country, food that could’ve gone to those in need. Last year US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Stan Melibrug announced the first national food loss and waste goal calling for a 50 percent reduction by 2030 that they hope to accomplish through partnerships with nonprofits, businesses and state and local governments. Here are seven ways you can reduce food waste at home.
Make A Plan
We’ve all done it. Gone to the supermarket without a list and ended up with two new tomatoes when there were already two perfectly yummy ones at home. Stop that from happening by planning ahead. Figure out your meals for the week before you go shopping and make a list of those meals and their needed ingredients including quantity required to avoid overbuying. If you only need half of something many supermarkets will provide it if you ask. And remember to double check what you already have at home before heading out.
It takes some practice but if you keep a neat fridge you can more or less gauge how much food you’re going to eat in week.
First In, First Out
When you come back from the supermarket don’t just shove the items in your fridge and pantry. Be neat, remember? You want to rotate items in your fridge and pantry so the new milk you bought is behind the half-empty container.
Trust me leftovers are your friend. Have you ever turned stuffing into frittatas? Don’t judge until you do. Upcycle your leftovers for breakfast or even to take to work the next day and use up what’s in your fridge before going to the store to buy ingredients for a new meal just because you saw a pretty picture on Pinterest.
Leftovers are only as good their storage. Store leftovers in single-portion sizes to make them easier to reuse and make sure to store all food, leftover or not, the way it should be. For example, store bananas, apples and tomatoes by themselves.
If you really can’t bring yourself to use up those leftovers at the very least you can compost. Did you know the entire city of Vancouver composts? Your small apartment on the fourth floor is not an excuse.
As soon as you get home from shopping prepare your food for snacking, cooking and storing. Wash, dry and chop the perishable foods you intend on cooking with and then store them. If you know you won’t eat all that bread or meat freeze it.