Food waste is the single largest component sent to American landfills–in fact, statistics show that 1.3 billion tons of food are not consumed. Not only is this costing a lot of money, it’s also using up a lot of the environment’s resources and is responsible for emitting 135 million tons of greenhouse gases every year, or about 1.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Since 1974, there has been at least a 50% increase in food waste in the United States. These numbers are alarming, and only prove just how important it is for us to make a change. We can start by making more ethical and sustainable choices. In addition to making other green choices, here are a few easy tips for reducing food waste.
Plan Meals Ahead of Time and Make A Grocery List
One of the easiest ways to help reduce food waste is to plan out all of your meals ahead of time. This can be done by making a grocery list of all of the ingredients or food products you need to purchase, and/or gathering inspiration for meals from a few of your favorite cookbooks. One of the best ways to save money and food is to try to plan a few recipes a week that call for the same ingredients. This will help ensure that nothing goes to waste and is also a lot lighter on your wallet.
Rotate Perishable Items
Sometimes we can easily forget about perishable items that are left in the refrigerator, freezer, or cupboard for too long, and before we know it they have expired. To avoid this problem entirely, it is important to
a.) never buy more food than you know you will use
b.) use the FIFO method (first in, first out)
Whenever you make a new shopping trip, be sure to place newer items in the back of your fridge, freezer or cabinets, and older items that will expire soon, up front. Don’t forget to rotate canned goods and produce as well. To combine loose products like coffee, cereal, spices, and other items, storage containers or jars come in handy and make pouring the old on top of the new, easy as pie.
While leftovers can be tiresome after awhile, they are a huge help when it comes to reducing food waste and saving money on groceries. There are a number of different ways to reduce food waste by using leftovers. Whether you decide to pack up a leftover meal to heat up for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner, decide to invite your neighbors over for leftovers, or whether it just involves saving spare ingredients like noodles, sauces, breads, vegetables, etc. for additional meals, all of these things will help ensure that less food ends up in our landfills.
Order Less Or Ask For A Doggie Bag
If you or a family member have the tendency to over-order at a restaurant, or waste food, then you might consider ordering less, sharing a meal with a friend or family member, or even ordering a small appetizer or two instead of a large meal. If after your meal, your eyes were still bigger than your mouth, and you find yourself with lots of leftovers, don’t be afraid to ask for a doggie bag. That meal will make a great lunch to pack to work tomorrow, or taste great heated up for a late night snack.
Start A Compost
One method that reduces lots of food waste is to start your own compost at home. A compost is a great way to recycle kitchen scraps like vegetable and fruit peelings, pulp, tea bags, coffee filters, and/or coffee grounds. Not only does starting your own compost bin help reduce kitchen waste, it also makes a great fertilizer for any garden!
Grow From Home
One last way to help reduce food waste is to start your own garden at home and grow any produce or herbs you might need. There is nothing better than being able to harvest some fresh herbs or greens straight from the garden for every meal. Often times, when we buy produce from the store it has the tendency to expire before we use it all. Having a garden is ideal because you can harvest as needed, or even can, store, or freeze items for later.
Food Waste Statistics in America – www.foodwastestats.com
FIFO Method www.investopedia.com