Written By Julie Paiva, CHHC
How may times have you done your weekly grocery shopping with the intention to make a bunch of healthy meals; then, life gets the best of you, and a week later you find yourself throwing a wilted veggies down the garbage disposal. According to this recent article by the NRDC, 40% of the food in the United States does not get eaten. See this link for more information, www.nrdc.org/resources/food-matters.
Use these helpful tips to make a conscious effort to reduce food waste. At the same time, you will be stretching the dollars you spent on food, shielding the planet from greenhouse gasses emitted from food that rots in landfills, and reducing the labor, water, and energy that goes into food production.
First In, First Out
Just like stores stock their shelves use the first come first serve rule. When planning your meals check your fridge and pantry to see what you bought first. Consider organizing your fridge so that the top shelf contains the foods that you need to use up right away. Anything you buy afterward can be stored in lower shelves or drawers. You can apply this concept to your pantry as well or label a shelf with a “use me first” tag.
Veggies that are close to seeing their burial can be made appealing again by using them in a stir-frying, adding them into a casserole, or blending them into a hearty soup.
Be Careful with Deals
It is tempting to purchase a bushel of apples when they are on sale but be mindful of what you might actually use. When you throw away uneaten food you are essentially throwing away your money. If the deal is too good to pass up, make sure it is on items that can be stored for a period or frozen and used later. If you preserve some foods by freezing them, follow the first in first out rule in your freezer too.
You’re Eyes Are Bigger Than Your Stomach
If you have ever eaten at a buffet, you have probably witnessed this first hand. You pack your plate till it’s bursting and once you start eating you find halfway through that your stomach can’t fit another bite. This same thing can also be applied when grocery shopping especially if you go when you are hungry. When you shop try to underestimate the amount of food that you think you need.
Some people love leftovers and some people hate them. Leftovers don’t have to be boring and bland. Turn leftovers into new meals to make them more interesting. If you had chicken and veggies last night, use the leftovers along with some almond flour tortillas and goat cheese to make quesadillas for lunch or dinner. As nice as it is to consume a fresh meal each day, it’s not always realistic with hectic schedules. You can also dedicate one night a week to be leftover fiesta night. Building a leftover day into your week will save time in the kitchen while ensuring that you make full use of all that you cooked. Challenge your family to come up with creative ways to transform the weeks previous meals.
Becoming conscious about what you purchase and how much of it will help you to create less waste and put money back into your wallet. Try to reduce a little food waste each week until you can become a 100% waste free household. With a little practice, planning and creativity you can accomplish it.