3 Ways to Cut Down on Food Waste
The United States leads the world in wasting food. In fact, about half of all food produced for human consumption in the United States ends up in the landfills, making it the single biggest landfill ingredient. The Atlantic says that in an American household of four, produce waste adds up to about $1,600 a year. That's a lot of money! And a lot of food in the garbage.
So what can you do to minimize the amount of food (and money) you're throwing in the trash? Here are three simple ideas to help you save.
1. Only buy what you need.
Do you do the big weekly shopping trip? You head out once a week to grab all the groceries you might need, and then some. How easy is it to overestimate how much food you actually need? Maybe you're hungry, maybe you're committed (at this moment, at least) to cooking every single meal that week. Before you know it, you end up with more fresh groceries than you need. A week goes by and you dump what you didn't cook.
Most of us live within a short walk or car ride of a grocery store, produce market or convenience store. If you end up throwing away produce at the end of the week, maybe come to peace with the idea of running out after work or on your lunch break to grab a few extra things instead of only shopping once a week. My go-to routine is to hit up the farmers market on Saturday to get whatever is in season, then supplement with short trips during the week. Or, if you absolutely want to stay to the one weekly trip, you could try to:
2. Plan your meals.
Meal planning is a great way to not only buy exactly what you need but also to ensure that you're not tempted to just say "Eh, I don't want to cook," and head out for a quick bite. Meal planning involves sitting down and coming up with a menu for the week, then a grocery list based on that menu. Then you use one day a week to prep, cutting down on cooking time during the actual week. Here's an idea for using Instagram to help you meal plan.
3. Use your nose.
Those leftovers are three days old. That tofu had an expiration date of yesterday. That onion has one soft spot on it. So what!? Seriously, we are all too squeamish about expiration dates and leftovers. Unless your leftovers smell bad, they are probably still good to eat. Try repurposing them into something else (here are some ideas). One bad spot on a vegetable? Cut it off and use the rest (unless it's growing straight mold, then be more stringent). A few soggy leaves in your lettuce? Pick them out and use the rest today. Cook based on what needs to be used, not what you're in the mood for.
That's it! Pretty easy, right? Those are three simple steps to help anyone who wants to cut down on wasting food. Do you have more? Tell us in the comments!