Food waste is a global problem. Statistics indicated that about one third of the food produced ends up wasted or lost. Starches, fruits, and vegetables have the highest wastage rates. Approximately 40 percent of the food grown and processed in the United States will never be consumed. This has a negative impact on the environment as well as affecting farmers’ income and food prices. In a world where so many go hungry, these numbers are shocking.
Fortunately, it is within your power to reduce food waste in your own home and lessen your environmental footprint. You may be surprised by the amount of money you can save too! A bit of mindfulness goes a long way when it comes to food conservation. It all comes down to the choices you make every day. Here are some tips to help you out:
Make a grocery list
Before you go shopping, make a grocery list and stick to it. Write down the foods and ingredients needed to cook your meals for the week ahead. Check your fridge and cupboards to see what you already have at home. Keep a list of recipes at hand and buy only the perishables you need. For instance, if a recipe calls for two bananas, don’t buy a whole bag.
Plan your meals
Plan your meals and snacks for the next few days. Be realistic and abstain from buying foods that you’re unlikely to use. If you live alone, you don’t need as much food as a family of three. Shop with your meals in mind and purchase ingredients that can be used in variety of recipes.
Store food and leftovers properly
Proper food storage practices are important for safety, and will also help make food and leftovers last longer. Be mindful of the perishable food in your fridge or pantry. Keep the temperature in your refrigerator at or below 40° F, and your freezer at 0° F. Perishable foods such as yogurt, meat, fish, bread, fruits, cheese and milk can be frozen for later use. Store leftovers in sealed containers and find ways to incorporate them into your daily meals.
Instead of throwing away over-ripened fruits, try using them in pies and smoothies. Wilting vegetables are ideal for many stews and soups. You can often substitute ingredients in recipes. For example, if a recipe calls for mayo, try using yogurt instead. Replace sugar with fruit purees. Look for recipes that incorporate foods you already have on hand.
A little effort can go a long way toward reducing food waste. Get creative! The environment (and your wallet) will thank you for it.