No matter how hard we try, it seems we’re always throwing out some amount of food at the end of the week and those little scraps of food have become a huge epidemic! Did you know that nearly 50% of the food produced worldwide is wasted? That is a startling number–especially when you consider how many people are food insecure–48 million! Take a moment and digest that information. Considering today is Earth Day, it is the perfect day to consider our role in this problem and I am sharing a few ways you can help! These tips will hopefully result in delicious meals, lower grocery bills, a smaller load on trash day, and great satisfaction knowing you are enjoying all the ingredients you are purchasing and helping the planet while you’re at it!
We have to be mindful of our day-to-day habits to change them. Take a moment and think about the amount of food you waste and start to reflect on the “why”. Here are a few tips to get you moving in the right direction.
- Get Organized: How disappointing is it to find Tuesday dinner’s leftovers gone bad in the back of the refrigerator? It happens to all of us, and it’s always a downer. By keeping our refrigerators and pantry’s well-organized, we are more aware of what we have and what we need. Assign each shelf of your fridge or cabinets with a different kind of food category- produce/meats/grains/snacks/spices/condiments, etc. Take a quick glance and reorganize at the end of each day or each week to keep stock of what’s in there.
- Improvise. Speaking of ingredients laying around the house…use them as meal inspiration. Often times we decide on a recipe we would like to cook and then buy the necessary ingredients. Of course, when we’re done, we always have leftover ingredients that unfortunately don’t always get used. Try challenging yourself to come up with meals made completely with ingredients you already have. You’ll use up food in the house before it goes bad, cut down on grocery bills and hopefully discover a delicious dish you might not have come up with otherwise!
- Plan. So you’re organized and improvising–the next step is a little planning. By choosing recipes ahead a time and making a shopping list you will purchase the ingredients you need thus reducing the random ingredients left over at the end of the week. By sticking to a prepared list you will reduce your overall food waste. Head to the bulk bins to purchase exact amounts of ingredients instead of prepackaged portions–bonus, you are reducing packaging and overall trash as well!
- Use the whole ingredient. Don’t toss those broccoli stems, beet greens or carrot tops! They are edible and equally as nutritious! When you’re chopping up vegetables and have parts left over, you can even put them aside (or toss them in the freezer) to make vegetable broth.
- Embrace ugly produce! Your fruits and vegetables were not meant to be identical–they have been bread this way for packaging and shipping. If it isn’t the perfect size and shape it is left on the field to rot–ugh! Encourage your grocery store to purchase imperfect produce and do you part–buy irregular produce at the market–sometimes it costs less to boot!
How do you reduce food waste in the kitchen?