By: Lezanne Winshaw
The average four-person household in the US wastes 97 lbs of food per month. Equating to over $1800 per year. What if you can cut that right down? Wouldn’t that be one of the easiest ways to save money each month?
Why Do People Waste Food?
One of the biggest reasons why food goes to waste is leftovers not being eaten. Another big culprit of food waste is buying more fresh produce than can be eaten before it passes its prime. Leafy greens, berries, and soft fruit are the biggest culprits here. Sell-by dates and expiry dates also cause confusion and misconception about the safety of foods. Consumers will often throw away foods that are still perfectly safe to eat.
What Food is Thrown Away the Most?
On a household level, the foods discarded in the greatest quantities are:
- Milk and cheese.
- Bagged salads.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables.
How Can I Stop Wasting Food at Home?
As with most things in life, the solution to your problem starts at home. Here are some tips on ways to reduce food waste in your home.
1. Repurpose Leftover Meals
Spaghetti Bolognese on Monday night turns into Nachos on Wednesday night. Cook up your Bolognese sauce with some lentils and chili, and you have a meat sauce perfect for your nachos!
2. Use Your Freezer
What is the quickest way to get over a favorite meal? Eat it three or four days in a row. Instead of letting leftovers go to waste in the fridge because you just cannot face eating butter chicken for the third time, after having it for dinner on the first night, place leftover meals into dishes in portion quantities (2-people, 4-people) appropriate for the size of your household. Freeze and be grateful for a quick reheat meal in a week or two’s time.
I don’t like to go to the store more than once a week. But I cannot keep the amount of milk that my family goes through in seven days fresh in the refrigerator for that length of time. So, I buy enough milk for the week and then pop half of it into the freezer to take out a couple of days later.
3. There are Several Ways to Skin a Banana
My kids’ relationship with bananas is like a rollercoaster ride. So, I seldom buy more than six at a time. If they are on one of the banana rollercoaster highs and consume all six in two days, that’s great. If not, at the first sight of them becoming ‘over-ripe’, I pop them in the freezer. I use frozen bananas for making banana bread, banana muffins, and smoothies. So, they never go to waste!
If your tomatoes are about to turn, cook up a nice tomato sauce and freeze for your next pasta dish.
Bread is another food item that can easily enjoy a second lease on life. If your bread is going stale, cut it up into cubes to make croutons! Perfect for Panzanella salad and Winter soups.
4. Compost Food Waste
It is easy to throw food waste into your regular trash and not feel guilty about what becomes of the scraps once they leave your home. It is all biodegradable after all, right? Wrong. Well, it is biodegradable. But in a landfill, any item takes a whole lot longer to break down. And because it is a closed system (no sunlight, no air), decomposing trash tends to release a lot more methane. Composting your food waste is a two-fold win. Firstly, it is much gentler on the environment. Secondly, you have healthy compost to use in your garden or pot plants in a couple of months!
3 Ways to Reduce Food Waste When You Go Shopping
Do you want to stop wasting food? A little bit of planning can go a long way to saving money and limiting food waste.
1. Avoid Grocery Shopping When You are Hungry
It is a known fact that hungry shoppers buy too much food. Make sure that you aren’t running on empty when you are doing your weekly grocery shop!
2. Make a Weekly Meal Planner
I cannot count the number of times I read this advice on mom-blogs and self-help blogs before I took it to heart. Whether you are cooking for one, or four, meal planning is a game-changer. Make a weekly meal planner. Do it now. It does not take long. And it saves you heaps of time, stress, and money later in the week. You will waste less food, eat less take out and have less last-minute ‘what’s-for-supper’ stress in your life. Chances are, you will also have the time and inclination to become a little more adventurous in your cooking and cook recipes that you have been longing to try for the last two years.
3. Never Shop Without a Shopping List
Take five to ten minutes to sit down and make a shopping list before you head out. Whip out your weekly meal planner and take a quick look in the fridge and the cupboards before you write the list. That way, you will buy the ingredients you need for your meals and nothing extra. You will also save money by making fewer trips to the grocery store for items you forgot to buy two days ago.
Save Time, Energy, and Money While Not Wasting Food
Food security is a problem that we all should be concerned about. On a global scale, the amount of food discarded is sufficient to feed the 800 million starving people twice over. Making a couple of small lifestyle changes in the way that you think about, plan, and shop for your groceries can have a significant impact. Not only on your budget, time, and energy but on the environment and international food security. Less food waste is a win for all!
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