Have you ever taken the time to think what is actually in your garbage? I know it is “dirty” business to start digging around your bin but what most of us do not realise is how much food we throw away everyday.
Think for a while how many moldy vegetables did you throw away the last month, how many diner leftovers. The average household creates about 1.28 pounds of daily waste, equal to 14% of the family’s food purchases.
Most of the food we throw away ends up in landfills and as it starts breaking down it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
Preventing waste makes sense and money. Wouldn’t you rather save and spend that money on a summer holiday? I am sure you would and here is the way to do it:
Before you shop
- Plan your meals for a week. Plan three or four days to make recipes and two to eat leftovers. If you like eating out once in a while, reserve a “free” day too for dinner with friends.
- Check the food you already have in your fridge, freezer and cupboards before you go shopping, then write a shopping list for just the extras you need.
- Never go shopping on an empty stomach as you will end up buying more than you actually want.
- Buy loose fruits and vegetables, instead of pre-packed, so you can buy exactly the amount you need.
- Try substituting your major weekly shop with a couple of small trips to restock produce. If you do one big shopping trip per week, your fruits and veggies are most likely to go bad long before you have a chance to eat them.
While at the shop
- Beware of special deals. They might be great for toilet rolls and shampoo, but bad for fruits and vegetables. These are the things we buy because of a “good deal”, but often they do not get eaten.
- Get into the habit of giving the labels a read. Always check the “use-by-date” to avoid buying food that might be thrown out if not eaten immediately.
- Do not be afraid to ask for the exact amount you need. If you need only half a melon, piece of cheese or loaf of fresh bread, most stores are happy to provide just the half you need. All you have to do is ask.
- Always try to buy local produce rather than packaged products to limit emissions. The same goes for organic products too. They have a lesser environmental impact and are healthier for you and your family.
While at home
- Make sure your fridge is at top condition. Check that the seals are good as well as the fridge temperature. It is suggested perishable food to be stored at 2-3 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and longevity.
- Rotate items in your fridge and cupboards, so the oldest items are at the front. By putting the old stuff in sight, you run less risk of finding something moldy in the back
- Use food with the shortest date first.
- Freeze for later any foods you won’t get around to eating in time. For instance, if you only eat a small amount of bread, freeze the loaf when you get home from the store and take out a few slices a couple of hours before you need them.
- Any fruits that become soft or soggy can be made into a smoothie or used in a dessert, whereas vegetables can be made into soup or a bake.
- Use any leftovers as ingredients for a new dish tomorrow. Get as creative as possible; a bit of tuna can go into a pasta bake, grilled chicken, steak or veggies can be incorporated into sandwiches or salads.
- Some food waste is unavoidable, so how about setting up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings? In a few months you will end up with rich, valuable fertilizer for your plants.
Do you have any other tricks for minimizing food waste? We would love to hear from you.