Did you know Americans throw away about 96 billion pounds of food each year? That’s more than 25% of our food. You might have guessed that the biggest chunk of our landfill garbage was packaging, but it’s not. By weight, it’s food leftovers! So not only are we tossing out food that we’ve already paid for, we also spend $1 billion a year disposing of uneaten food from homes, restaurants and cafeterias.
Here are a few ideas to help save not only your food but the environment.
- Know your eating and shopping habits: Do you find that you buy produce but never use them before they start to turn bad? Do you tell yourself you’ll whip up an amazing gourmet meal but never actually make the meal? If you know what grocery shopping mistakes you keep repeating that results in food waste, you can empower yourself with the self-awareness to improve your habits. Start with buying half of what you normally do and see how much you save and use each week.
- Plan your menu and check the internet for yummy leftover recipe ideas: When you plan your meals for the week you are setting up a food schedule. Not only are you saving time but you are able to compare your recipes and see which ones can reuse ingredients. For example, you buy a large onion but instead of using only 1/2 in a recipe you can have another recipe a few days later and use up the rest of that onion. When you know what you are cooking for the next few days, you are more mindful to use up food that is about to expire or is already available in your kitchen instead of impulse-buying more grocery items that might go to waste. Even if you only plan up to one day in advance, a little planning goes a long way.
- Store food properly and keep track of perishable items: You can also use a wipe erase bboard on the fridge to help keep track of when items were bought. We use one for our freezer.
- Look at what is available: If you end up with a lot of fresh veggies you need to use before they’re not so fresh, it’s a great time to make soup and then either eat for a meal that week or freeze for a later date.
- Don’t Toss – Compost! When we realized how much of our trash was unused food we decided to stop the process of buying too much food and also reuse the bad food into something useful…compost for our garden. It’s fun and gratifying — you can even compost in the city. If you’re not set up for composting, check out the options for food waste collection services in your community.
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