We all know we should be reducing our food waste. An incredible 150,000 tons of unwanted food ends up in US landfills every single day – that’s around a pound of food per person. Not only does this cost us billions of dollars annually, but also has a devastating impact on the environment.
Why reduce food waste?
According to a report by the University of Vermont, this is equivalent to 30million acres of wasted land, 780m pounds of pesticide, and 170 trillion liters of water. Rotting food also produces methane gas, which is the second most common greenhouse gas and a contributor to climate change.
These figures are pretty scary, but luckily we are on hand with some simple tips to drastically reduce your food waste.
How to reduce food waste while you shop
Reducing food waste begins with small changes to the way we shop, cook, and store our food. This will look different for everybody, but for most of us a little bit of planning and clever cooking will make a big difference. Start by looking at your shopping habits. If you’re bulk buying new groceries every week then you might want to rethink your approach.
1. Plan your meals
Knowing exactly what you need before you shop is one of the best ways to reduce food waste. Most of us tend to buy more than we can use, because we have no idea what we will be cooking that week. Creating a meal plan is a simple way to make sure you’re only getting what you need, and will also help curb impulse buys. Going our for brunch on Saturday? Buy one less banana or loaf of bread. Cooking a curry on Tuesday which only needs half a red bell pepper? Plan to make red bell pepper pasta later in the week.
2. Check your fridge
It sounds obvious, but checking what you already have in the fridge will seriously reduce your food waste. The chances are you’ll have at least a few bits in your fridge leftover from your last shop. Write them down so you don’t forget what you already have when you get to the grocery store. This tip will be a whole lot easier if your fridge is free of clutter!
3. Don’t waste ugly food
Show that curvy carrot some love! Misshapen fruit and vegetables are way more likely to end up in landfills, despite being just as tasty as their beautiful cousins. Dents and bruises are easily removed with a sharp knife, and unusual shapes can add character to a salad or tray bake.
4. Buy individual portions
Purchasing multipacks might seem like a money saving move, but if you’re struggling to use the whole pack then it will soon add up. Instead, seek out individual portions according to your meal plan. If you can’t find singular fruit and vegetables at your local store then check out farmers markets – the produce tends to be sold seperately and you will be able to buy exact quantities. Likewise, hit up your local bulk food store with your jars and reusable bags to buy the portions you need.
How to reduce food waste at home
Getting organized is key to reducing food waste at home! Knowing what you have in the house and finding ways to use it will make a huge dent in the amount you throw out. A little creativity in the kitchen can also make a big difference!
5. Clear your fridge and cupboards
If you’re anything like us then you are probably guilty of losing food in your fridge. It’s understandable – broccoli and carrots can be easily hidden from view by big bags of leafy greens. Making sure you organize your fridge and cupboards regularly makes it easier to keep track of your stock, and in turn, less likely it will start growing mold before you get the chance to eat it.
6. Check your serving sizes
Do you clear your plate every time you sit down to eat? If the answer is no then it’s time to check your portion sizes. Your hand is a great way to measure how much food you’re serving up. As a rough guide you should be looking for one to two palms worth of protein, one to two fists of vegetables, one to two cupped-hand portion of grains, and a thumb-sized portion of fats. Using smaller plates is a great way to help shift your perspective on how much you should be serving.
7. Love your leftovers
There are so many ways to use leftover food. Pack it into a container for lunch the next day, chuck it into the freezer for a hassle free future dinner, or make something completely new. Stuff a squash with leftover quinoa, turn leftover brown rice into delicious vegan burgers, and chop past-their-best apples up for a batch of baked cinnamon oatmeal. You can even repurpose your leftover sweet potato into brownies!
8. Get creative with peel, seeds and stalks
You can make some seriously awesome things from the parts you normally throw away. Add fruit peel and wilted herbs to a jug of water to amp up the flavor and create a delicious infused water! Sauté and simmer vegetable stalks, skin, tops and off-cuts for cheap and healthy vegetable broth. Save pumpkin seeds when you make pie, and roast them with a little salt and pepper for a healthy snack.
How to reduce food waste you can’t eat
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s impossible to find yummy purposes for all your leftover food. Here’s some eco-friendly alternatives to dumping it in the trash can!
9. Home-made face masks
Did you know that lemon juice has the same skin refining qualities as Glycolic acid and cucumber slices are great for reducing puffy eyes? In fact, loads of food is great for your skin, and can be used as a cruelty-free and vegan beauty treatment! Try adding leftover oats to over-ripe avocado, for an all-in-one face mask and scrub. Dry pout? Mix granulated sugar with a little olive or coconut oil and massage it into your lips for a natural winter-lip buster.
10. Donate to food banks
Food that’s still good and unopened could make a meal for a family in need of a little boost. Check out the national directory of food pantries to find a center near you. Donating to food pantries is a great thing to do anytime of the year, and a great way to ensure food doesn’t go to waste while you’re away on vacation or work trips.
Home composting can reduce your food waste by a whopping 80%. If you have a yard then great! Start your own compost pile with a combination of brown and green organic matter and water- the EPA and PETA have some useful tips to get you started.
If you don’t have a large outdoor space then fear not- you can still compost! Store compostable food waste in a small compost bin, and then regularly drop the scrapes off at your local compost depository or have your food scrapes collected by a composting service in your local area.
We hope these 11 easy and eco-friendly tips will help you reduce food waste! What are your favorite ways to reduce food waste? Drop us a comment to let us know!
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