Have you ever bought more food than you need? Well, if you are like most Americans, the answer is a solid Yes. In fact, about 31% to 40% of food purchased by Americans is wasted. Not only is this a waste of money, but it’s also a strain on the environment. This raises the question, how can I reduce food waste?
Now, there are actually two terms you should be familiar with. The first is Food Loss, which is the food lost between harvesting and reaching retail. Where Food Waste is the food lost in retail and on the consumer level.
Both of these can be significantly reduced, but we are just focusing on food waste today. Here are eight ways you can reduce your food waste.
1. Stop Buying So Much
Perhaps the most obvious solution to the problem is to reduce the amount of food you actually buy. Supermarkets do a terrific job at advertising deals you can’t refuse, and instead of just buying one thing, you end up with a full shopping cart.
Instead, you need to have better restraint and only buy what you need. One of the best ways to do this is to create a shopping list.
Shopping lists are a great way to figure out exactly what your household needs and to stay on track when in a store. This can also just help reduce the amount of time you spend shopping in general as you will have a clear goal of what to look for.
2. Shop For A Week Instead of A Month
Similar to the last point, but equally important, is shopping for smaller periods of time. Some people think it’s better to do all the shopping at once to save time, but what really ends up happening is forgetting things you may need.
You also end up buying too much of a perishable good. The end result is you usually have to throw stuff away, which is a waste financially and on the environment.
Shopping for a smaller interval allows you to easily figure out what you will use in the week versus a larger period of time like a month. After all, you may end up going out to dinner more than you planned, which ends up wasting a lot of food.
3. Eat Ugly Fruit And Veggies
Let’s face it, most people won’t eat a fruit or vegetable if it looks ugly. However, this is a big misconception. Ugly fruit and vegetables offer the same level of nutrition that their better-looking counterparts offer.
One way to get over a bad appearance is to cut it up. A great example of this is bananas.
Bananas get brown spots if they are not eaten fast. Many people will simply throw them out, but just taking a moment to peel the skin off will reveal a banana you can eat. The outside is not always a great indicator.
This logic applies to most fruits and veggies, so chop them up and then judge.
4. Eat Your Leftovers
It’s important to make sure there’s enough food to go around, that’s why a lot of people tend to cook more than they need. While this might be part of the problem, there’s nothing wrong with it if all of that food is actually eaten.
And the best part of a big dinner you can’t finish is heating it up later as a snack or finishing it off for lunch the next day.
It’s also recommended to make sure you don’t overfill someone’s plate. Give them a small serving, and if they want more, they can always go for seconds. That way you’ll have more left over for another meal.
Remember, if you can’t eat the leftovers, perhaps a furry friend can.
5. Use Expiration Dates Correctly
Perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of food labels is the expiration dates. They actually come in a variety of ways like “Use by X date” or “Best before X Date” and even more variations. It’s important to understand this wording as it can be a bit misleading.
These actually mean very different things, and you may be wasting food by throwing them away.
The “Used by” dates mean you should consume it before the date on the package. Whereas the “Best before” date means the food will lose some quality past that date, but it will still be edible.
A great example of this might be bread, which will become a bit stale if you go past the date, but it can still be used for toast.
The bottom line is that a lot of these dates are more of guidelines than rules. Some things will survive well past their expiration dates. Testing them before tossing them in the trash can greatly impact how you reduce food waste.
6. Eat Different Types of Fish
When you have a favorite type of fish, you tend to always buy more of it. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, humans tend to like the same things a lot, and this is causing certain fish species to be overfished.
For example, did you know that Tuna, Salmon, and Cod are being overfished to meet demand? The end result is the decimation of these populations.
Thus, when you purchase these fish and waste them, it’s a pretty big blunder. You can help prevent this by changing up the types of fish you eat. Try to explore fish species that are overly abundant, you may even find a new favorite.
7. Store Food Properly
One of the biggest mistakes households make is not storing products properly. For instance, many products need to be refrigerated after opening. Now think for a second, have you ever made that mistake? The odds are yes, and you may have suffered for it.
For this reason, you need to carefully read the instructions on food labels and store them at the proper temperatures.
Speaking of proper temperatures, make sure your refrigerator is working properly. It’s easy to overstuff a freezer, and that can actually lower its effectiveness. This could cause products to begin defrosting and spoil while they are in the freezer.
Be vigilant of any odors in the kitchen.
8. Compost Your Food Scraps
Sometimes, there’s not enough food for leftovers or there are scraps that can’t be eaten. However, that doesn’t mean they are useless. You could instead choose to compost them and use the foods in your garden.
This might sound complicated, but truthfully, you just need to scrape those plates into a bin of some kind and close the lid.
Thus, it’s incredibly easy. There are actually a ton of home composting solutions you can choose from. One I can recommend is the Chef’n Eco Crock Compost Bin. It’s a great addition to any kitchen and even includes an odor guard.
It Doesn’t Take Much to Reduce Your Home’s Food Waste
As you can see from the above list, there’s not really all that much to reduce your home’s food waste. It’s actually pretty easy. Not only does it help out the environment, but it can really save you some money, especially with food prices so high.
All it takes is a little effort and some self-awareness to reduce food waste. That said, it could take a while to actually get it right, so don’t feel bad. Any reduction in your food waste is a good thing.
What steps do you take to reduce food waste? Are there any products you would recommend that helped?
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.