Around one third of the food produced around the world each year is lost or wasted. That’s over a billion tons of food — gone. With numbers that big, it might be easy to have the mindset that your own personal kitchen couldn’t possibly make a difference. But what if we all decided to work toward fixing this problem? We may not be able to control big companies and restaurant chains, but we absolutely can control our own habits. Each individual kitchen can make an impact in reducing food waste.
The most important way to start on the path to throwing away less food is to buy less food. We grossly overbuy at the grocery store. If we started to buy only what we know we will use, we would have less spoiled produce in the refrigerator and fewer expired items in the pantry to throw away.
Plan your meals in advance of shopping. If you know that two of your favorite dishes have overlapping ingredients, plan them for the same or consecutive weeks so you can use up all of that item. While you’re planning, make your grocery list. Check what items you already have on hand so you don’t buy duplicates. When it’s time to shop, don’t forget your list, and make an effort to stick with it! Avoid buying items in bulk unless you’re sure your family will use it all.
While having a meal plan helps you have a more focused shopping list, being flexible with that plan is also really helpful. If you find that you have some produce that’s only going to last another day, mix things up so that you can come up with a last minute meal to use up that item. Soups, pasta sauces, and casseroles are great ways to utilize really ripe produce. Good storage techniques can help you avoid quick spoilage.
Learning to strategically use the freezer is also helpful in producing less food waste. If you do buy some produce in bulk, freeze a portion for later use. Leftovers can also be frozen until you’re ready to use them or transform them into another dish. Keep a running inventory of freezer items so that they don’t get buried and lost forever.
If you aren’t already, start a compost system on your property so that the bits of produce that you truly aren’t able to use can at least can be turned into soil rather than thrown away.
Reducing food waste not only helps the environment, but it can save your family a significant amount of money and time as well. Start by using some of these strategies. You’ll likely find that they help your household in a variety of ways!