Every year, developed countries waste an estimated 222 million tons of food combined. While emptying those last couple of French fries into the garbage may seem harmless, it is contributing to a mountainous problem of food waste.
We eat what we want, when we want and discard what we don’t want – while people in underdeveloped countries starve because there is not enough food to feed them. It’s a cruel imbalance that needs to change.
Starting today, let’s turn this around. Let’s look at some simple changes we can make to help reduce our food waste footprint.
At the store
Did you know that between 30 and 40 percent of the food grown in the U.S. never makes it to the store? If fruits and vegetables don’t meet the colour, shape or size standards that retailers demand, you won’t find it on their shelves. While it’s not easy to change your local store’s standards, you can help reduce food waste by making the most of what they do carry. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are shopping for groceries.
Looks aren’t everything. Don’t let a few bruises deter you from putting that apple in your basket. Instead of letting it go bad on the shelf, take it home and cut out the bruises. There will be a fraction of the waste and you’ll still have fresh ingredients for your meal.
Get it before its prime. Not all fruits stop ripening when they are picked. Buying a bunch of green bananas will last a lot longer than a bunch that are already yellow. Here are more fruits that continue to ripen at home:
Don’t plan too far ahead. While you may be tempted to stock up on groceries for the week, don’t get ahead of yourself. Buying your meat and produce within a day or two of eating it will not only guarantee freshness, it will also give you time to think about what you really need for the next couple meals.Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Shopping when you’re hungry results in impulse purchases and over shopping. Have a snack or meal before heading to the grocery store. Not only will it cut down on waste, it will also save you money.
The average four-person household throws away an estimated $590 worth of food every year. Make your groceries and your money go further by following these easy food-saving solutions.
Invest in produce-saving bags. While they might look unassuming, these little green bags can prolong the freshness of your produce significantly. They also help food retain its nutritional value, making them a powerful tool against food waste.
Mind your portions. Start out with a smaller portion and re-evaluate your hunger when you have finished your serving. If you are still hungry, go back for more. It is always better to reach for a second helping than to throw away uneaten food on a plate.
Embrace leftovers. Whether you change it up a bit or just heat it up, leftovers can be a quick lunch solution or a re-imagined dinner.
Fill your freezer. The key to properly freezing your food is in how it gets wrapped. Use airtight bags and containers to prevent freezer burn. Consider investing in a Foodsaver system to help you lock in freshness longer.
Get creative with odds and ends. Just because you only have a handful of items in your fridge doesn’t mean you can’t create a delicious meal. Try something new or rethink a family favourite. If you need inspiration, check out online meal creators like Super Cook . You can type in the ingredients you have and it will generate recipe ideas for you.
Be daring after the expiry date. It’s natural to always check the date on food items at the grocery store. But know that a “Best If Used By” date doesn’t mean that the item automatically goes bad after that day. It is only suggesting that the quality and flavour of the product is best before that date. Before you trash it, give it a taste or do a sniff test, and you’ll probably discover that it’s still fine for consumption.
With just a few simple changes on how you approach food, you can reduce your food waste footprint. Not only will you save money, you’ll be part of a solution to the growing problem of waste.