I’ll be the first to admit – I’m horrible when it comes to food waste. I tend to buy lots of fresh produce each week, but with juggling multiple jobs, a puppy, working out and a having slice of a social life, my meal plans tend to change on the regular.
If you’re not aware of how bad the food waste situation is in our country, consider this: roughly 94 percent of the food Americans throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities, with the average American producing 5 pounds of waste per day.
As methane gas emissions are on the rise, It’s important to reduce how much we throw into landfills now more than ever. With some conscious decision making, we can help businesses and consumers save money while conserving resources for our generations to come.
Here are some easy ways to reduce your weekly food waste.
Plan your meals for the week
Ever look in the fridge and find “nothing to eat?” Everyone’s experienced purchasing individual products without having a recipe in mind. Planning and prepping food will immediately reduce the amount of food waste you produce, and also make an impact on your weekly spend.
Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that you need to cook for the week. How many meals do I need to cook for? Will I be eating out?
Another good idea is to peek into the refrigerator and pantry to avoid buying food you already have. Find whats in there and plan some meals around what you need to use up.
Prep Your Food
As soon as you get home from the food store, spend some time to wash, dry, chop (or however you prep) your fresh food items, even if you’re not doing official meal prepping for the week. Find some clear, air-tight glass containers for easy visibility and to keep items fresh longer. When you have your food ready and available to eat, It’s easier to make quick, healthy decisions.
Store Food Properly
Tips for the freezer:
- Store bread, sliced fruit, or meat in the freezer (in an air-tight wrap) that you know you won’t be able to eat in time. Kale and spinach are also great to keep in the freezer if you’re a fan of smoothies.
- If you have the time, prep and freeze your meals ahead of time.
Tips for the refrigerator:
- If you eat berries regularly, wait to wash berries right before you eat them to help prevent mold growth.
- Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
- Fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, which can make other nearby produce spoil faster. Store apples, pears, bananas and tomatoes by themselves and store others in different bins.
- Arrange asparagus like fresh-cut flowers in a mug or cup of water.
- Store your lettuce with a dry paper towel.
- Keep basil out of the fridge -it can go black and wilts in low temps.
Other things to consider
There are many items in your trash that are totally avoidable. Paper napkins and towels, or plastic bags can be reused or avoided totally. Some easy items to opt for are reusable grocery totes, linen napkins, a set of dish cloths and bringing your own to-go mug to the coffee shop. Although one-time-buy items may stretch the immediate budget, these items will save you money in the long-run.
Donation is the easiest way to clear out and help others. If you have non-perishable goods sitting in the pantry, do the right thing and drop it off at your nearest donation center.
The goal is not perfection
Having zero food waste isn’t exactly realistic. But putting a little thought into your daily and weekly routines can go a long way. Setting high expectations for you and your family often results in inaction. Instead, focus on making small shifts in your routine to make the biggest impact.