Wasting Away - Tips for Avoiding Food Waste July 09 2015, 0 Comments
We’ve all experienced it – that feeling of guilt at the sight of a carton of overripe strawberries in the back of the fridge, or that freezer-burned chicken breast buried in the freezer. Or that disappointment when you realize that your eyes were way bigger than your stomach this time and you have to throw away half the food on your plate.
Food waste is a major problem worldwide, especially in the United States. According to a recent story published by the Wall Street Journal, approximately one third of the world’s food supply is wasted. Americans throw away about 40 million tons of food every year.
With nearly 800 million people suffering from hunger in the world, organizations across the globe are doing their best to cut down on this waste. Fine-dining chefs are making an effort to reduce the waste in their restaurants, using methods that make use of slightly imperfect vegetables or the parts of food that are normally discarded. Their goal is to recycle, reuse, and reinvent aspects of cuisine. It’s possible to use every scrap of food and still make delicious meals.
And there are simple ways that we can contribute in our own kitchens. Conserving food means saving time and money. It also means helping the world as a whole, which can make us feel better about our lifestyle decisions. Here are five ways to cut down on food waste that take less time than clearing out your fridge:
Make a meal plan
In an ideal world, we would all live right across the street from our local farmer’s market. We’d buy fresh food every day, in just the right quantity, and we would never waste food because we’d eat it the day it was purchased. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and sometimes the best we can do is get to the grocery store once every week (or even two weeks). How do you stock up on food without the risk of having half of it spoil?
The best thing to do is make a plan. Decide what meals you will make that week and exactly which ingredients you’ll need. Make a list when you go to the grocery store…and don’t buy anything that isn’t on that list.
Store it properly
This one seems pretty straightforward, but a large amount of food spoilage is due to improper storage. (This website offers some helpful tips on food storage). Keep track of when you purchased certain foods and keep the older items in the front of the fridge or pantry. Also keep track of what you regularly find yourself throwing out. Consider not purchasing those items, or only buying them in small quantities.
Don’t eat out (as much)
Of course going to your favorite restaurant every now and then is okay, but eating out frequently can actually contribute to your food waste. Instead of eating what you already have in the fridge, you order a large portion at a restaurant, which usually results in more leftovers. Not to mention that eating out is usually less healthy than dining in.
Use all of the ingredients
It may seem a little weird at first, but those slightly overripe berries and those celery stalk tips are actually quite edible. Use the berries in a smoothie and the celery in some broth. Or try one of these interesting options listed in a Wall Street Journal article and concocted by world class chefs (we're dying to know about that cauliflower pasta).
Sometimes, of course, there are food items that you just can’t (or don’t want to) eat. But there are still ways to keep them from going to waste completely. Donate non-perishable foods to food pantries. Donate table scraps to local farmers to feed their pigs and chickens (they’ll eat anything). Compost. There are plenty of ways to give back to the environment and society without pouring it all in a landfill.