We’re going down a different, more serious path for this blog post. Let’s talk about food waste!
1. Shopping Lists NOT determined by meals generate more food-related garbage
Shopping without a plan in mind could increase food waste. Most people bring a list when shopping, but that isn’t enough. Our lists must be determined by the meals we are going to make for that period. Without a plan to use the ingredients in meals & snacks, the items we buy at the grocery store are more likely to be thrown out. Consider creating a weekly meal plan. When shopping, buy things that are necessary to those meals. Having a plan about how and when to eat the food we buy significantly decreases food waste. Have a shopping list with meals in mind.
2. Shopping at warehouse stores (Costco, Sam’s Club) generate more food waste
These stores force consumers to buy larger quantities of food during their shopping trip. Customers believe they are often “deal.” For example, they may have to buy 24 bananas at once, but the price per banana is significantly lower than the medium to large supermarkets. While they do save money, consumers throw out significantly more food when shopping at warehouse stores because they are getting more than they need. Avoid buying too much food.
3. Almost half of all food waste comes from produce (fruit and vegetables)
Watch out for these big culprits! Only buy the fruit and vegetables that you plan to eat. According to the UN, large quantities of food are wasted because they “look ugly.” When we over-emphasize the appearance of fruits and vegetables, we miss out on large amounts of food that is perfectly healthy to eat. Choose ugly! Only buy what you plan to eat.
4. A lot of food is thrown out instead of composted
Without active City or State level projects to compost “green” waste like food, grass, and foliage, much of the rotten food we throw away ends up in the landfill. If you’re able to, consider building or getting a composting bin or container for your home. Composting has a number of wonderful features. It increases awareness of food waste and what happens to the food we throw out. It also makes wonderful fertilizer for our gardens. It keeps food waste out of the landfill and returns it to the earth where it belongs. Don’t put your food waste in the landfill.
5. Double-check before throwing out your food
Can those chicken bones be used for stock? Stale bread for breadcrumbs? Freeze those nearly black bananas for smoothies or banana bread. There are plenty of ways to use food that you might think is rotten or bad. Consider repurposing it before throwing it out. The EPA’s food recovery hierarchy is to a) reduce food waste, b) donate food, c) feed to animals d) compost (see #4), and finally e) landfill. Think twice before throwing it in the garbage.
6. Lack of meal planning
Simply put, organizing and planning meals for the week will reduce food waste. When we have a plan for what food goes where and when, it goes used. It also helps us see any food that isn’t in the plan. Many weight loss systems involve writing down what you eat. They do this because it makes you conscious of everything you’re eating. Having 20 Oreos is easier if you can just forget about it. It isn’t so easy if you have to write it down and look at it again and again. Meal Planning uses the same psychology. When we plan out our meals we are more likely to make conscious decisions about what we are eating and putting in our body. It also helps us take less shortcuts by eating out or snacking on unhealthy food. When we’re hungry we’re not thinking about making a meal, we’re thinking about something to eat quickly. Meal plan to reduce food waste.
7. Poor organization
Meal planning, shopping with a well-intentioned list, and only buying what you need is a great start to reducing food waste. The next step will be organization. There are lots of great ways to organize the food in your fridge and freezer like using MESS Dissolvable Labels. If you’ve already begun to save leftovers and meal prep, that’s great news. Next, let’s label them and make sure we know what’s what. When you’re done with the container, just rinse it off. Easy. More time spent with your family and less time cleaning up in the kitchen. Organize and label your food.
8. Keep a log of foods you throw out
See #6 for the psychology of this one. When we write stuff down, we notice it much more. Perhaps there’s a food you’re regularly throwing out or is going rotten in the fridge. Write it down. Review it weekly or monthly – You might be surprised and I’ll bet you will be less likely to buy as much next time. In our house, it’s lettuce. I don’t know what to tell you but it constantly goes bad – something I need to work on to reduce food waste. Write down the food you throw out.
9. Preserving is key
For people who have gardens or who buy extra produce, preserving the food you grow or buy can be a great way to make your food savings go farther. Prepping and cleaning tons of jars can be a huge hassle, though. Make sure to use MESS Dissolvable Canning labels. They rinse right off and make re-using canning jars a breeze. My favorite? Pickled carrots. Preserve excess or garden produce.
10. Save leftovers
Self-explanatory. If you save your leftovers and put them in the fridge or freezer, you’ll waste less food. I think everyone knows that. The main problem is the labeling. I don’t know about you, but my wife gets a bit “iffy” with food that’s been in the fridge more than a couple of days. In her mind, it’s always been in there longer than it should, and should probably be thrown out. If you slap a label on it or identify when it was made, it’s easier to see if it’s safe to consume or not. Save leftovers and label them.
There are hundreds of ways to reduce food waste. Are there any that stood out to you? Are there any that we missed? Let us know at email@example.com.
With all the food saved by following the steps above, you’ll undoubtedly have:
- More money (less $$ spent on wasted food)
- More food in the house, and less worries about what to eat
- A stronger desire to eat planned and eat healthy
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
If you made it to the end, good job! You’re well on your way to becoming a food-saving expert! Remember, words matter but action also matters. So don’t just read these and forget about it. Make sure to take actionable steps to complete some of the above.