Stop Food Waste Day, held annually on the last Wednesday of Earth Month (hello, April), is the best time to take stock of the steps you’re taking from the kitchen and search for ways to reduce the amount of food you waste. “It’s difficult to think, but 40% of our food supply is wasted, and every one of us melts almost 300 pounds of food each year,” says Margie Saidel, RD, LDN, MPH, vice president of nourishment & sustainability for Chartwells K12. This is a critical problem since when food travels into landfills and rots; it produces methane, a greenhouse gas much more powerful than carbon dioxide. In its present state, food waste is one of the largest causes of climate change, and reducing food waste is something we can do to create a meaningful effect on the surroundings. A bonus, Saidel adds, is that discovering ways to reduce food waste can also save money: “After all, a family of four can lose $1,500 annually on wasted food.”
Following are some common mistakes people make that lead to wasting more meals than may be necessary, along with a few tips to make battling food waste part of the everyday routine. Many of the actions to prevent food waste start before you even get to the kitchen.
1. Going grocery shopping when you are hungry
“For a lot of people, this may look like the perfect time to go and satiate your cravings, but this can result in impulse purchases, an overflowing shopping basket, and much more food than could be consumed before its expiry,” says Saidel. The adage of your eyes are bigger than your stomach is not only for the plate of food before you but can be relevant to your supermarket haul. Instead, Saidel recommends creating a meal plan and a corresponding grocery list. This will save time, dollars and will benefit the environment.
2. Buying food items just because they are on sale
On the lookout for ways to save money is always a smart idea, but be cautious of becoming lured into buying food just because the purchase price is reduced. “If you do not have a plan for how and when you are likely to use it, then there’s a stronger probability that you may wind up throwing it away,” Saidel explains. Alternatively, start looking for sale-worthy substitutions for recipes and items on your listing and portion of your meal and snack program.
3. Not having a Strategy
“As a dietitian, creating menus and meal programs is inherent within our everyday lives to encourage and empower people to make healthy decisions. Mapping out menus for breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinners will be able to help you construct a shopping list for what you need and help reduce the quantity of food that is over-purchased and underused,” states Saidel. “Rather than running to the store to pick up what you require for dinner several times a week, get creative! Engage the entire family in a TV-inspired cooking contest in which you need to create a meal together with the items which need to be used. It is fun for the whole family, and individuals frequently find that new favorite recipes emerge suddenly.”
4. A cluttered fridge can become your foe.
Additionally, it can be easy to forget about things if they’re tossed into the back of the fridge. Some people find it useful to label foods in a manner that puts expiration dates and center. Ensure menu programs fit dates; it can be helpful to organize items so that those expiring soonest are on top and within easy reach. For our complete guide to organizing your fridge in a way that prevents food waste, see here.
5. Improperly prepping produce
A lot of men and women find it helpful to clean, cut, and homework produces when they get home from the market to help save time with meal prep during the week. We love a fantastic meal prep time-saver, but remember that produce isn’t equal. “There are some fruits, such as strawberries and raspberries, that ripen faster after they have been washed. On the other hand, Apples can be washed everywhere, but should just be sliced near the time will consume them,” states Saidel.
6. Leftovers shouldn’t be restricted to duplicating the original meal.
Look for ways to mix it up while it’s using the skillet chicken to make fajitas or tacos on night two, add to a soup, or freeze for a different night. This keeps your meals from becoming monotonous and can save you time in the long term, also.
7. Tossing bananas
Bananas that are browning are excellent to eat, or if you can’t eat them, you can suspend them. “Your skin will turn black in the freezer, but they will be perfect for eating,” supports Saidel. “Add frozen peanuts to a smoothie or puree, or use as a healthy substitute for oil, eggs, or butter baking.”
8. Saying goodbye to wilted veggies
Did you know that a quick soak in ice water for five to 10 minutes can revive wilted vegetables? Even if can’t revive them, a few veggies you intended to eat raw in a salad can still glow in a cooked dish.
9. Incorrectly storing herbs
Despite their packaging, buying new herbs at the shop requires a little additional care when you bring them home to ensure they continue longer. “Fresh herbs can add a great deal of taste and flavor to recipes without including fat and calories. Don’t forget to put stems in water or wrap them into a wet paper towel. Extras may also be boiled or mixed and frozen in ice cube trays to save for a future recipe.”
10. You are not being conscious of what you’re wasting.
Don’t forget to think about everything before throwing it in the garbage or pushing it down the disposal. “Maybe there is another way to use something,” suggests Saidel. Also, many apps can help prevent food waste, for example, Too Good to Go. “In case you’re searching for an easy way to assess whether food waste is an issue for you, gather your food waste–both from if you’re preparing a meal and what is left over after the meal which will throw away–and weigh it. Then, challenge yourself to lower your food waste another week.”