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Americans waste a staggering 1/3 of their food. That’s like purchasing six bags of groceries and leaving two in the parking lot to go to waste. Our throw away/convenience culture tells us that if it’s bad or unappealing to you then just toss it in the trash can. I don’t agree with this and if we all were a little more conscious of reducing food waste then the world would be a better place because we would be saving precious resources and lowering our carbon footprint. Here are my top 10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste.
Taking the time to plan your meals and follow through with that plan once you get home will save you from wasting tons of food. If meal planning is something that you struggle with then you will want to read How to Meal Plan on a Tight Budget or check out my Meal Planning Pinterest board for more information.
Only Purchase What You Need
It’s tempting to stock up on fresh produce when it’s on sale or buy bulk items at a discounted price, but you need to be realistic. Only purchase what you know you will eat in the amount that you need before it goes bad. Take inventory of the items that always seems to go bad in your fridge and consider not buying that item the next time you go to the store.
Eat or Freeze Leftovers
Making use of your leftovers will save you money and make your meal planning easier. We eat leftovers almost everyday for lunch. Also, if we have a lot of leftovers at the end of the week then we have a couple of “clean out the fridge” meals where we pull everything out and choose what we want. If you can’t eat your leftovers before they go bad then freeze them for a time when you need a quick and easy meal.
Keep Inventory of Expiring Food
Keeping a list (either mental or physical) of what is about to go bad and needs to be used in the next meal will help you to drastically reduce the amount of food that you waste. If you know you have a bag of potatoes that need to be used then plan on serving baked or mashed potatoes as a side for dinner. You always need to be a step ahead of what’s in your fridge and plan accordingly so that you aren’t always throwing food away simply because you didn’t get to it in time.
Give Extras Away
If you know you will be out-of-town later in the week or you know your family simply won’t eat something then find someone else to give it too. Take it to work and see if someone wants it or think of a family member or friend who might appreciate the extra food. Chances are if you give then you will probably receive later down the line.
Feed to Animals
If you have animals then keep a plate or bowl in the kitchen that you can add scraps to throughout the day to feed to them. I always give my dog extra ham, cheese or chicken (high protein scraps) and feed our chickens the produce or carb scraps.
If you can’t give it away or your animals won’t eat it then consider composting. You can compost almost anything except meat or dairy. If you don’t have a place for composting then see if your town or apartment building participates in a composting program. Also, if you live in a small space you may want to could consider vermiculture where you feed scraps to worms in a bin. Go here for a beginners guide to composting.
Donate Extra Garden Produce
If you’re a gardener then chances are you will end up with extra produce that you can’t use. If this happens then try to give it to a family or friend. You can also visit Ample Harvest and find a local food pantry that accepts fresh food donations. I just learned about this website and I’m excited to make use of it in the future.
Use Every Part of the Food
A lot of times we throw food away because we don’t know how to make the best use of it. Did you know that you can eat carrot or radish greens? Also, did you know that you can make chicken broth out of bones/veggie scraps or soup from a ham bone? Check out my list of 20 Creative Ways to Use Kitchen Scraps for more ideas.
Learn to Preserve Food
If you grow your own food or simply find a good deal on in season produce then you may want to learn how to preserve it for later use. You can preserve food by freezing, canning or dehydrating. Check out my Canning & Preserving board on Pinterest or the recipes below for more tips and ideas.
Just imagine how much money we would save and how little food we would waste if we all applied these 10 simple principles. What’s your favorite way to reduce food waste? I’d love to know!