Did you know that over 40% of all food grown or produced in the United States is wasted? That’s a lot of time and money going to waste! There are lots of ways we, as consumers, can help reduce food waste in the kitchen which ultimately helps our budgets and the environment too.
Here are a few ideas to reduce food waste in your home:
Meal planning makes the difference. Many times the groceries we buy are more than we need for any one recipe. When you meal plan, you’ll know what kind of recipes use similar ingredients so that you’re more likely to use them all up before they go bad. These 10 Beginner’s Tips to Meal Planning Like a Pro will help you get started.
Eat your leftovers or save them to repurpose. Vegetable scraps and leftover whole chickens can be used for a homemade soup stock. I always have a built-in “leftovers buffet” at the end of the week. This helps us clean out our refrigerator and gives me a break in the kitchen from making dinner every night.
Label it. To avoid something getting forgotten about, label what is in your freezer with the name of the foods and the date. Use an inventory sheet to log it all so when you are meal planning you’ll know what to use up first to avoid freezer burn. You can even label items in your refrigerator. Use a permanent marker to write the date the item was opened so you know how long something has been in your fridge. That will also help you determine if you should buy a smaller size next time.
Start a Compost. We have lots of leftover fruit and vegetable scraps every day such as banana peels, carrot peels, apple cores, coffee grounds and more. While I can’t always cook with these types of kitchen waste, they work great in our compost pile so that we can add those nutrients back into our garden or even lawn!
Use expiration and sell-by dates as a guideline and not a hard and fast rule. Since food labeling is not strictly regulated, it is up to the consumer to learn more about them. I like to suggest we use our five senses to decide if something is not safe to eat. Does it look, smell, taste, feel or sound not quite right? Then it’s probably safer to toss the item and use something fresher. Use your best judgment when deciding whether food that is slightly past its expiration date is safe to eat. Or, use the FoodKeeper app to see the shelf life of common foods.
Freeze extras for later. My freezer is one of my favorite large appliances! Sometimes when a recipe makes more than my family can eat, I will freeze the leftovers of a dish to pull out and reheat for an easy meal. I also have lots of fruits and vegetables on hand, many of which I’ve frozen from fresh. You can check out some tips on Ways to Freeze Fruits & Veggies or these 6 Tips for Freezer Meal Sucess for more inspiration.
Buy only what you need. This ties back into the meal planning but when you know what is on your menu plan, it’s easier to know what size package or quantity you need for the week. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re at the store and buy more than you need but with a menu plan and shopping list, you’ll be more likely to buy just what you need.
I hope these ideas will help you make the most of your food purchases which will ultimately help you save money too!