Food waste has a huge impact on the environment and your wallet. Taking steps to reduce your food waste will have a huge benefit to you and the planet.
The average American family of four throws out more than 25% of the food they purchase. This waste totals more than $1,600 a year per household (or more than $30 week).
Here are five simple ways to reduce kitchen food waste.
Some people, without waiver, go so far as planning out in advance the entire next week’s meals. That is the most effective way to reduce food waste but for many people, that is not practical. The key to planning and reducing your food waste is being realistic.
If you know you are going to have a busy morning one day in the week and it may be unlikely that you will pack your lunch that day do not purchase the food that you need to pack. The same goes for dinner. If you think you have to work late one night, plan on having a fast meal to prepare or a pre-made meal from the freezer (frozen leftovers, not a prepackaged meal).
Some of the best-laid plans are thwarted by unseen issues like traffic, train delays, or an emergency at work. So do the best you can, but don’t let it consume you.
Having an extra freezer in your house is a great way to reduce your food waste, too. Go through your freezer or freezers twice a month to see what is in the back and bottom. Use those items in those two weeks to make room. Fill up the open room with food you have cooked that you have not had time to eat as leftovers. If you have not even had time to prepare the food do not despair the freezer can also take those items and store them for the future. Steam fresh veggies, chop up onions and garlic, uncooked chicken… throw it all in freezer-safe containers and save it for another day.
While this piece of advice should go without saying, it really is important in reducing food waste: you need to eat the food. You can follow all the rules but if you continue to make new foods and not eat the leftovers and extras you are only prolonging the inevitable waste.
Having an organized kitchen is vital to reducing food waste. You need to make sure you are storing your food properly so it does to spoil before you are able to use it. Making sure items are stored in the proper way will help you maximize the length of time you have to eat them.
Make sure your storage containers are organized, clean, and freezer safe (glass can be freezer safe including certain canning jars). If you are able to quickly grab a container you are more likely to save your leftovers and eat them again.
Many of us know that we can take our food to food pantries but many do not know where they are in their area or what they will accept. Check out foodpantries.org to find a pantry near you. Many of these food pantries take fresh food too so explore those avenues first before throwing food out entirely. Leaving for an extended period of time? Share with friends prior to leaving. Your friends will probably jump at the chance to have some of what you are giving out – saving them time and money.
Food waste is a huge issue and sometimes things come up that make food waste unavoidable. Following these five tips can help you reduce your waste significantly and help protect our resources in the process.
Feature image courtesy of Amarpreet K