While some might argue that food waste isn’t the most exciting topic, I’m here to say that it’s an important one. According to the National Resource Defense Council, 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten – that’s wasted time, money, and resources that pollute our environment. Luckily for us, there are a few quick and easy ways you can help reduce the food waste epidemic.
Make a List, Check it Twice
To curb overshopping, try writing a list of EXACTLY what you need before heading to the store. When shopping, only buy what you need – for example, if you only need 6 slices of cheese that week, just order six slices from the deli instead of buying a pack of 24. Resist “buy one, get one free” sales if you don’t actually need two of the same food items. By shopping for less, you end up wasting less.
Eat Leftovers (like your mom told you!)
Most of us have had this happen before; we open the fridge and there’s TONS of Tupperware containers harboring food that’s gone bad and a few items that have graduated to ‘science project’ status. If you forget about your leftovers, buy a whiteboard for your fridge and write down a reminder. If your first instinct is to pitch all leftovers in the trash, try ‘bubble and squeak’—a creative way to make a brand new meal from leftovers. Use a site like Forkly to find tips on meals to make from leftovers.
Freeze Your Goods
If you buy a loaf of bread, but see the expiration date is nearing… don’t throw it away! A great alternative is to freeze it then thaw when you’re ready to eat. Freezing helps food maintain its freshness, so you can preserve items instead of wasting them. If you’re nervous about food safety, The Huffington Post has a really easy chart to see how long you can freeze items and which ones not to freeze at all. Check it out here.
Help Your Friends Out
If you’re feeding a big family and you end making too much, take the leftovers to a friend. Some friends are too busy (or lazy) to cook would love a surprise meal! Let’s be honest – people love a free meal and it’s a great way to show your love. Just be sure to deliver it in a reusable Tupperware!
Home Compost Bin
This might sound complicated, but it’s pretty easy. All you need to start is a bin to put your compost in. This could be a wooden one you created yourself or a plastic storage container from the store. Next, add some leaves or newspaper at the bottom. Then add LOTS of dirt to fill up the bin half way. Finally, you’re ready compost any leftover food. Add food scraps from your kitchen and leftover meals. Make sure to stir the contents and sprinkle some lukewarm water on them every once in awhile. After a few months, you can sprinkle it over your lawn for amazing fertilizer. Find tutorials on how to make your own compost bins here.
Store it Properly
I hate cling wrap. It sticks to itself and I don’t like the idea of throwing it away when I’m done. plastic containers work, but I can never seem to find a matching container and lid. I recently discovered reusable silicone food storage bags and these puppies are the new me! They have replaced my Tupperware, Ziploc bags and cling wrap. They take up no space in the drawer and I can use them to store just about anything. They don’t leak, I can pop them in the microwave and dishwasher and they’re cute too. I can use them in the kitchen and take them camping. They’re great for kid’s lunches as they are BPA free.
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