Food waste is an increasing problem around the world: About half of all food produced globally is wasted, and about 11% of this can be attributed to household food waste. In addition to all that food waste, the resources that go towards food production (money, fuel, water) are wasted. Globally, this adds up fast!
Beyond its global impact, food waste affects households as well, and the biggest way is economically. Wasted food is wasted money! Today, we’re going to share some tips & tricks to cut down on food waste where you as a consumer have control: In the grocery store and at home.
At the Grocery Store:
- Look for local or organic foods and visit your local Farmer’s market: Foods grown locally and organically are often produced more sustainably
- Buy ugly and discounted produce: These are most likely to be discarded by the grocery store as they will get left behind by most consumers. Ugly produce is still functional, and often produce is marked down because it is visually (not nutritionally) flawed!
- Have a plan:
- Create a weekly meal plan, or at least an idea of how much of certain foods you use on a weekly basis
- Buy exactly what you need (not more)
- Be realistic: For example, bulk foods often seem like a great deal but can come in packages much too large to realistically finish.
- List what foods you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer
- Note when they need to be used by
- Keep track of what you have and when it will expire
- Prioritize eating foods that expire sooner
Use First-In, First-Out method
- First-in-first-out (FIFO) simply means that foods purchased first are used first. Keeping this rule of thumb in mind can help ensure you’re eating foods before they go bad!
- Designate a “Use-It-Up” shelf in the fridge for products about to expire
- Plan one meal a week for cooking foods that will expire soon
Track food waste for one month
- Write down all the food you throw out for at least one week. This can help you figure out the main types of food that are being wasted (for example, are you always throwing out bread?) You can also use this tracking system to figure out where most of your food gets wasted, and why? For example, if you didn’t have time to prepare fresh food during the week, maybe there’s a way to change your habits and do more food prep on the weekends.
Use as much of the food as possible when cooking
- Include skins, stems and greens of fruits and vegetables when you’re cooking (as long as they are edible!). Include crusts and end pieces of bread, and use as much of meat, poultry and fish cuts as possible. This maximizes the food you’re getting for your dollar and reduces the amount you need to throw away – you may also be adding more variety and nutrients to your meal!
Prepare and serve realistic portions
- Dish out less of foods at meals – this will avoid scraping food off the plate if too much was served that could otherwise be saved for leftovers.6 If you’re still hungry at the end of the meal, you can always go back for seconds!
Get Creative with leftovers
- Enjoy leftovers in new ways by adding them to new dishes: Omelets, salads, soups, casseroles, etc.
- Leftovers also make a quick and easy packed lunch for the next day!
Stretch food that is slightly past fresh but still edible
- Fruits: Add to smoothies, baking, sauces, jams, etc.
- Vegetables: Add to smoothies, cooking, soups, sauces, etc.
- Bread: Add to casseroles, make French toast, croutons, stuffing
- Baked goods: Warm up in toaster to restore texture
Remind yourself of proper storage techniques for perishable foods so that you can get the most out of them and avoid spoilage!
What do you do at home to reduce food waste?