It starts with good intentions; we load our grocery carts with healthy and fresh produce, only to watch it wilt when we realize we were a bit overzealous in our estimation of how much we can actually consume.
But if you find you’re throwing out a significant amount of food each week—or even just a bit here and there—you’re not only wasting money, you’re also negatively impacting the environment. In fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, worldwide, we waste nearly 2.9 trillion pounds of food a year. (And then remind yourself of the 800 million people who go hungry every day and you’ll see why this is such a problem.)
For starters, try following these 7 simple rules to waste less food:
1.) Much like the best way to avoid clutter is to not allow the clutter to enter your home in the first place, most of us tend to over-shop. Start by buying one-third less food this week and see if you can get through everything you consume. Also, try to create a weekly menu before you hit the store and write out every ingredient needed; you’ll see if there is overlap, and if there isn’t, maybe you can forgo that tablespoon of thyme.
2.) Buy the “ugly”. So much of our produce goes to waste because it seems “imperfect” to sell. Ask your retailer if they have mishappen food at a discount, or head to the Farmer’s Market where they are more apt to sell imperfect produce (and remember that it tastes just the same!)
3.) Use the “unused.” If you only use one tablespoon of cilantro in a recipe, chop up the rest and freeze it in ice cubes filled with olive oil. You’ll have instant “seasoners” for future recipes. Alternatively, you can add more than the recipe requires; this is especially useful with vegetables where you’ll only have a bit leftover.
4.) Feel free to swap. Swiss Chard can be swapped with spinach or kale; pine nuts can be swapped with sunflower seeds, almonds, etc. Try to make use of what you have. The best way to do this is to think about the grocery store being MUCH further away than it is. If it was 100 miles, would you really drive? Or is there something else that would work as a stand-in for your recipe?
5.) Kitchen sink meals. If you grocery shop on Sunday, let Sunday morning or Saturday evening be a kitchen sink meal. This is where you use up the extra bits. Make a smoothie with fruit that is going soft. Make an omelette and add all of those extra veggies, herbs, cheese, etc (or a quiche or frittata if you need to save it for later).
6.) When you eat out, try to eat with a little less reckless abandon. Instead of ordering a bunch of sides, try sharing them with your companions. Take leftovers home, and ask the waiter to hold anything you know you won’t eat.
7.) Ask your school to join the USDA Food Waste Challenge
With her love of health and writing, Melissa has written for such publications as Shape, Natural Solutions, Yoga Journal, Self and Pilates Style, and has created recipes and food-oriented stories for such publications as Delicious Living and Cooking Light.
Latest posts by Melissa, Editorial Director (see all)
- Saving Our Coral Reef One Tube of Sunscreen at a Time. - June 28, 2018
- Healing Tonics: 5 Ingredients You Need to Cure All That Ails You. - May 3, 2018
- Is it Addiction? 4 Surprising Culprits Behind Your Gnawing Sugar Cravings. - April 20, 2018