Food wastage contributes to more than 10% of the world’s greenhouse emissions. Americans lead the world when it comes to wasting food, with more than 30% of the country’s entire food supply being discarded every year.
Acting today to prevent food from being wasted can help you lower your climate change footprint, conserve natural resources, and save money. Adopt these savvy tips on avoiding food wastage and change your lifestyle at the earliest.
Plan Your Meals
Think about what you will cook for each meal every day of the coming week and list out the ingredients. In addition, check your refrigerator and the pantry before you head to the store. This way, while shopping for grocery, you will get only the items you need and are actually going to use. You could use meal-planning and recipe apps to help you with efficient planning. Most such apps offer fee versions that can more than meet your requirements.
When buying fresh fruits and vegetables, buy them in small quantities. These items can get spoiled even in the refrigerator if they are not quickly consumed. It is likely that your grocery store offers substantial discounts on bulk purchases. Be realistic and stick to the small containers to prevent wastage. Buying food in large quantities only makes sense if it is possible for you to use all of it before it gets spoiled.
Check the Labels
Avoid buying food items with unhealthy ingredients and preservatives. Things to watch out for include added sugar and salt. Before making your purchases, check the “use by” or “best before” date. Remember that most food is safe to consume for a couple of days after these dates when well-refrigerated.
When you get home from grocery shopping, make it a point to put away all the food and ingredients you bought immediately. See if the temperature setting on your refrigerator is at 40° F or more while that of the freezer should be at 0° F. Freezing is an ideal way of preserving most kinds of food, including vegetables, meat, and poultry.
Try to cook in quantities sufficient for one meal or one day, depending on your family’s needs and habits. If you come across ingredients close to their expiry date, try to use them in the day’s meal. Certain edible parts of ingredients that you may not use can be repurposed to prevent wastage. For instance, you can use vegetable scraps to make soup stock whereas old bread is perfect for making croutons.
Save Leftover Food
After every meal, pack up the leftovers in appropriate containers to be refrigerated. Leftovers are a great way of testing your creativity. You can freeze these and use them later with minor additions and modifications to serve a whole new dish! Stews, casseroles, and soups are just some of the items you can make with leftovers.
A lot of food gets wasted when you eat out and order a meal you cannot finish. While placing your order, find out if the restaurant offers smaller plates or allows sharing. If not, get the leftovers in a takeaway box and bring them home so you can use them for another meal.
There are many more ways of preventing food wastage apart from those listed here. While some food waste is unavoidable – such as vegetable or fruit peels and cores— even these can be composted to ensure your kitchen garden derives the maximum benefit. The next time you pull out that plate of food and head to the garbage bin, think how you could have avoided this.
On that note, check out our SEEMA Pioneer Komal Ahmad, fighting world hunger and reducing food waste!