When food shopping for the week (or month), a lot of thought goes in to our selections – yet many of us give very little thought about how much of what we buy and prepare goes in the trash. For example, did you know we throw away approximately one third of the food we buy each week?
Here are some helpful tips to help reduce food waste.
1. Freeze Unused Food and Leftovers
Wait to have that second helping of casserole. You might find that you’re not as hungry as you thought. Freeze what you have left over, even if it is just one serving. Freeze in microwavable containers and take them to work. Remember to freeze broths, tomato sauce or paste you might have left over. It all adds up. You will be amazed how much food waste you can avoid producing.
2. Evaluate What’s in Your Trash
Examine what you’re throwing away. If you’re throwing away half of what you buy, then buy smaller containers or purchase airtight containers for long-term storage.
3. Rearrange the Contents of Your Fridge
Keeping your fridge organized will prevent you from forgetting ingredients and having them spoil. So, keep moving things around and you will always be able to keep an eye on what you have and its condition. Check for expiration dates; toss out anything that is more than a few days past the date printed on the package.
4. Set Your Fridge to 39 Degrees
This is the setting that will assure your food doesn’t go bad. On the average fridge, settings tend to be much warmer, which encourages food to spoil faster. So using a thermometer will help ensure that your setting is correct.
5. Plan Out Meals
Make a menu for the week. Do an inventory of your pantry to see what you have. You’ll be surprised how many recipes share certain ingredients. Plan three or four days to make recipes and two to eat leftovers, taking in to consideration that you may dine out a couple of nights or have dinner with friends.
6. Rethink Buying in Bulk
Consumers buy in bulk to save money but fail to realize that if they buy more perishable goods than they need and throw away rotten or unused food, they might as well be throwing money in the trash. If you must buy in bulk, try pre-portioning meats and veggies and freezing. Herbs, bread, meat, or veggies can all be frozen.
7. Shop More Often
If you do all your shopping for the week at once, fruits and veggies that you buy for a particular meal might go bad before you can use them. Instead, make a couple of small trips to pick up more produce. That way your food is nice and fresh.
8. Have a Backup Recipe in Mind
If you miss the opportunity to prepare a certain recipe, always have a backup recipe so your ingredients don’t go to waste.
Remember – our perishables sit in landfills creating methane gas. Are you a part of the solution? If you answered “yes,” then you’re well on your way to reducing the amount of food you waste, and saving yourself thousands of dollars a year in spoiled food.
Photo Credit: °Florian