It hurts a little bit inside every time I throw food out. Well, actually a lot. I paid good money for it, I carried it home from the shop – and then for some some silly reason it does not get eaten in time and ends up in the trash. People starve in big parts of the world, energy was used to grow and transport the food, energy is again used to take it to the landfill where the rotting food creates methane gasses. I doubt most people over analyze throwing food out like I do, but I really have a guilt trip every time food goes to waste.
$2,275 in the trash
So much food is wasted every day in North America. It is estimated that about 25% of all the food we drag home form the supermarket ends up in the garbage. This means that each person throws 1.5 lb of food away every single day. That is the same as throwing $2,275 away a year. Now, let’s look at some ways to prevent all that waste.
The first tip is pretty obvious: Buy less. Sometimes we get a little carried away when we go grocery shopping and buy 2 for 1 and haul the monster size-pack of cheese with us home that no normal family will ever be able to eat their way through. So just buy what you need for the next few days and don’t shop as if you are a prepper or filling up a panic room.
Make sure you don’t shop on an empty stomach. When I go shopping just before dinner, I always end up buying a lot more food than I need. So make sure to at least have a little snack before going grocery shopping to prevent throwing food out that you never eat later on.
Bring a grocery list
Bring a list when you go grocery shopping. I have a list in the kitchen that I add on to as I run low or run out of certain items. Some people prefer to have a list on their smartphone, which is great because you are less likely to forget your phone than your grocery list at home. With a list in hand at the store you are prepared and can spend the time in the store much more efficiently.
Besides shopping at the grocery store once a week or so, I shop at the fruit and vegetable market every few days. Yes, it does make for more shopping trips, but this way nothing gets wasted. We are lucky that we live just a few minutes away from the veggie market and the grocery store, so it is easy for me to drop by a couple of times a week.
Some tips to avoid throwing food out:
Use clear storage containers to store your leftovers, so you can easily see what is inside your fridge. I use glass containers instead of plastic, so I don’t have to worry about putting hot leftovers in them or if I want to reheat the food in the container.
I label everything that I put in the freezer. This way I avoid a mystery dinner or eventually throwing frozen food out because it has been left in a corner of the freezer because I had no idea what is was.
Don’t get rid of bananas with brown spots – just throw them in the freezer and use them in smoothies later on.
Make tasty stirfries with that chicken breast from last night. Just chop it up and add it to the pan with some chopped vegetables and soy sauce. Quick, easy and so good.
Freeze the fresh ginger and chilies. Fresh ginger and chilies dry pretty fast on a counter top and the ginger will turn into a hard piece of wood. Instead of letting them dry out, just freeze them and shred or chop what you need.
If celery stalks start to go soft, just trim the end and put them in water – it may look like an interesting bouquet of celery to some people, but they really do crisp up, so you can use them instead of throwing them out. I soak carrots that are starting to look a bit dull in water for a few hours as well and the result is amazing.
Use a juicer to juice your old produce and make a healthy drink full of vitamins. If you are not into juices, make some delicious soups out of not-so-fresh vegetables and freeze them. They will make a great lunch when you don’t feel like cooking.
Don’t throw out your herbs. Either dry them or make a nice pesto and freeze it. Just bash the herbs with a pestle and mortar, add some olive oil, shredded parmasan, walnuts, pine nuts or almonds, salt to taste and then pour it in an ice cube tray and put it in the freeze.
Freeze your leftovers. When my husband is away with work, I am not very motivated to do much cooking and that’s when a piece of leftover lasagna from the freezer is perfect. If you decide to go out for dinner instead of having leftovers, make sure to put it in the freezer, so it does not end up in the garbage bin the next day.
Reduce food waste by composting
We can’t completely avoid food waste, but we can reduce the amount of food we send to the landfills. If you live in place where you have the space to compost, you will be able to turn organic material from your kitchen into nutritious soil for your garden. A worm factory takes up hardly any spaces and is a great way to get rid of food scraps that would otherwise have ended in the garbage.
Over to you
I am sure you have some great tips to reduce food waste. Please share them in the comment section below for others to read and use themselves. It would be great to learn more ways to avoid wasting food.