According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans waste about 40% of their food every year. This is in large part because Americans are not well-educated on food-date labeling and don’t realize how much food they’re actually throwing away.
Follow the checklist below to avoid food waste in your home and help our country reach its goal of reducing food waste 50% by 2030.
o Make a meal planner each week. Plan your meals so that you know exactly what ingredients you’ll use. Make sure a “leftovers night” is included.
o Eat leftovers. Always eat what you have at home before buying more of something.
o Know your stock. What foods have been in the cabinet for months? What do you throw away the most? What items are about to expire? Organize your meals around your knowledge of your pantry and fridge.
o Store food correctly. Keep fruits and vegetables in separate drawers. Don’t put quick-to-spoil foods, like milk and eggs, on the refrigerator door. Keep bananas and apples away from all other fruits.
o Be creative. Look at the three or four ingredients you need to use, and then search for recipes online that use what you already have at home. Or try to come up with something yourself!
o Use everything. Keep the skin on fruits, like apples and pears, and vegetables, like cucumbers and potatoes. Use broccoli stems in soup. Roast the pumpkin seeds. Turn stale bread into croutons or French toast.
o Freeze what you don’t eat. Put items that might spoil before you can eat them in the freezer. Almost any meal or ingredient can be frozen until you’re ready to use it—just pack items tightly. This is especially helpful if you’re only cooking for one or two people.
o Canning is your friend. Too many fresh fruits or vegetables? Preserve them by canning. You can also turn those tomatoes into marinara sauce or salsa or extra strawberries into jam.
o Learn about sell-by and expiration dates. They don’t mean “throw out by this day.” Check out the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Food Product Dating” article.
o Eat out the smart way. Split a dish at a restaurant, or take home your leftovers with a specific plan for when you’ll eat them. At buffet lines, don’t take too much or large helpings of a food you don’t know whether you’ll like. Take smaller portions and go back for more if you are still hungry.
o Compost. If you’ve missed a bunch of fresh thyme or just can’t bear to puree those bananas, make a compost pile to turn them into nutrient-rich soil.
For more, check out last week’s post, Have a Waste Free Kitchen!
Photo credit: © iStock.com | LDProd