According to National Geographic contributors Samantha Cohen and Eric Estroff, Americans throw out an average of $165 billion of food every year. Not only is excess food waste a problem for people’s wallets, it also has a detrimental effect on the environment. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can reduce the amount of food that you throw out at the end of the week. Following these simple tips to reduce food waste will result in an eco-friendly and money-saving kitchen.
Plan your meals out
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that one of the most effective ways to prevent excess food waste is to plan your meals out ahead of time. That way, when you’re at the store, you’ll know precisely what you need to buy and what you can leave on the shelf. Avoiding a shopping cart full of excess food that you don’t need is a great way to start reducing your overall food waste. The less you buy, the less you could potentially waste.
Purchase and use “ugly” produce
According to the U.S. FDA, “ugly” produce are fruits and vegetables that have physical imperfections but are not spoiled or rotten. Many shoppers pass over this produce in favor of more attractive-looking fruits and veggies, but you can buy these so grocery stores don’t throw them out. There are ways for you to utilize fruits and veggies that might not be appealing to the eyes in your daily meal prep. Blending these products together into a smoothie will result in a nutritious and tasty drink, and it won’t matter what the fruit looked like beforehand.
Prepare a meal with excess food
Ugly fruits aren’t the only food products that you can reuse. Brittany Anas of Eat This, Not That! says that one of the best ways to use food that is about to go bad is by creating a stew. If you have any carrots or bananas lying around, you can create desserts like carrot cake and banana bread. Freeze these desserts to make them last even longer.
Store your food correctly
Another method to avoid wasting food is by correctly storing the food you buy in your fridge or pantry. The U.S. EPA states that different produce must be stored in different ways for them to remain ripe. For example, several fruit products, such as bananas and tomatoes, give off natural gases that will make other nearby produce spoil. For that reason, the EPA suggests storing these products by themselves.
One way that you can make your food last longer is by storing it in the freezer. The U.S. FDA states that freezing items like fruit, bread and meat can preserve them until you are ready to use them for your meal prep. Jillian Kubala of Healthline says that you can go a step further by placing prepared meals in the freezer. When you’re ready to indulge in your favorite culinary dish, simply take it out of the freezer and heat it up.
Avoid overstocking your fridge
Having a well-stocked fridge is always a benefit for meal prep. On the other hand, having an overstocked fridge can quickly lead to products going bad. The U.S. FDA suggests designating a section of your fridge for food products that you know are about to go bad. That way, you’ll be tempted to utilize those products first, and they won’t go to waste.
Kubala advises that you avoid buying in bulk for most food items. While it may be tempting to have a generous supply of your favorite snack on hand, if you don’t end up using all of that stock by the time it goes bad, that’s a lot of food that ends up wasted.
Make a meal out of leftovers
Kubala also states that reusing leftovers is another great way to reduce food waste. If you end up throwing out the leftovers from a dinner you had a few nights ago, that’s not only food wasted, but money as well. Consider finishing off a meal the night after you purchased or prepared the meal in the first place. If you don’t feel like having the same meal twice in a row, simply store your leftovers in the freezer to save them for later.
Donate excess food
If you can’t think of anything else to do with your excess food, consider donating to a local shelter of food pantry. Local communities are filled with families who do not have access to a steady supply of food. The food that you don’t plan on using could make a world of difference to them.
By engaging in these methods to reduce your excess food waste, you’ll not only be saving some green for your bank account, but helping to make the environment a bit greener as well.