It all started when I went to the grocery store to buy some spinach. I only needed one bag, but it was Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) so I figured, why not just get two. Deep down I knew I’d probably never get around to eating it all, but I got it anyway. That bag sat in my fridge for a week, unopened. Needless to say, it spoiled. And as I was throwing it away I realized I should have never gone for that BOGO, because I knew I was just going to waste food.
Did you know that our landfills are becoming over-burdened with wasted food and 14% of Americans are food insecure? That fact got me thinking that I should do better to conserve and preserve my food purchases, because not everyone is lucky enough to even make those purchases. So this year for Earth Day, I’m making a resolution to lessen my impact by reducing my personal food waste.
Here are 7 easy tips that will help you reduce food waste in your household.
1. Plan your meals: Planning your meals keeps shopping trips organized, which helps eliminate impulse buys that can lead to wasted food. Before you plan your meals check online to see what’s on sale or pick up a weekly circular from the market.
2. First In First Out (FIFO): Arrange your groceries so that newly bought items are behind items you already had. For example, if you buy 5 yogurts, make sure to place them behind the 2 yogurts already in the fridge. This easy concept will help you use food before it expires. It’s also a good way to decide what meal to make that night. If you planned to make King Ranch Casserole one night and Crustless Veggie Pie another, check which recipe has the most ingredients towards the front and make that one first!
3. Store your food better: Your food will last longer if stored properly. Make sure to set your refrigerator and freezer to the correct temperature range, which is 37-40 degrees F for the fridge and 0-2 degrees F for the freezer. Many of us make the mistake of setting them too high, which causes our food to spoil quicker. There are also specific storage tips for fruits and vegetables, like don’t store bananas, apples and tomatoes with other produce (they make things spoil). And if you’re always throwing away stale cereal and bread, invest in some airtight containers.
4. Eat your leftovers. After dinner store your leftovers in storage containers so you can easily take it to work the next day, pack it for a school lunch, or serve it again for dinner. You can even freeze larger quantities of leftovers, just be sure to mark the freeze date.
5. Preserve your produce by turning brown bananas into banana bread, soft fruit into smoothies, wilting vegetables into soup, etc… Always try to get the most out of your purchases, it’s cost-effective and helps reduce waste.
6. Donate what you don’t use. There are so many organizations that would love those cans you’ll never use. Remember, 14% of Americans are food insecure and any little bit helps. There are even local farmers and co-ops that will gladly take your food scraps for composting!
7. Don’t shop on an empty stomach and be realistic! We all know that when your stomach is small, your eyes are big, which leads to unnecessary purchases. And be realistic about how much you should buy. If you live alone you should be buying enough apples for one person, not for a family of five (unless you really like apples).
So this Earth Day I’m going to try being a smarter shopper by thinking about my purchases, being a more mindful eater by eating with my stomach (not my eyes), and making my food last. Will you join me?
What is your Earth Day resolution?