Reduce Food Waste at Home

How often do you need to throw away the leftovers after lunch or dinner in your home? How often does it happen that you have to throw away some product because it has spoiled? If your answer is more than once a day, then it is time to change your habits. Although perhaps you are not aware, your actions have a big impact on the world’s food waste problems and environmental protection. You do not believe that it is possible that one man can have so much influence? You would be surprised.

The truth is that most people are simply not aware of how much food they throw away on the everyday basis, with all that uneaten leftovers and spoiled produce. Did you know that the amount of food waste we globally produce each year could be enough to feed around 1 billion of hungry people in the world? And as if that is not bad enough, that wasted food ends up in landfills and releases methane while rotting. That greenhouse gas is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

No, this doesn’t mean that you should keep eating even after you are full. Just that you need to find a way to change your shopping, cooking and eating routine in a way that will minimize food waste in your home.  Minimizing food waste isn’t that hard to do, and it will be even easier if you decide to implement these tips.

Before shopping

  1. Write a shopping list. During the days leading to shopping write items you know you’ll need to buy. This way you’ll avoid buying items you don’t need, and probably won’t use. Did you know that each week we waste the third of the food we buy? Put an end to it. Your shopping list should always be somewhere in the kitchen where you can reach it easily. By having a list near you at all times, you can add items as they run out or when you remember them. You can do this by putting a paper on your fridge or by downloading some useful app on your mobile.

If you usually buy in a particular supermarket, then try to organize your list according to the order in which you go through the store. This way you will avoid constantly reviewing the list and going back through aisles.

  1. Plan your meals for a week. Consider what your schedule for the next week looks like. There is no point in buying a lot of ingredients for some recipe you want to try, if you won’t have time to cook it this week. Food will only go to waste. Creating a weekly menu based on your schedule will make your life a lot easier and significantly reduce the food waste in your home.
  2. Do a quick inventory. Before going to the store take a look back on the items you already have and that you will need to use before buying anything else. This way you will keep your food from getting spoiled and also save your money.

At the Store

  1. Shop smart. By buying stuff you don’t need, or even won’t use, you are wasting food before you even leave the store. Stick to your shopping lists and it would be easier to avoid impulse buys. Only buy items you are sure you’ll use, and don’t buy any new perishables before you have used up the ones you already have.  Remember not to go if you are hungry, because you’ll definitely buy more than you actually need.
  2. Be realistic. You need to consider everything before you decide to buy something. There is a difference between buying for one person and for a family. The truth is that you don’t need as much as zucchini for one person as you would need for some big family, unless you are really fond of zucchini. Also consider how often do you have time to cook. Even though there is a great deal on mushrooms or carrots don’t stock up on them if you know you won’t have time to cook and eat them all.  Be careful when it comes to the special deals. They are great when buying products that last long, but not so great for perishables.

At Home

  1. Use FIFO system. This means “First In, First Out”. When unpacking groceries, you need to move older products to the front and put new ones in the back. By doing that, you will make sure you use the older products before they expire. This also applies for loose products. When you top up cereals, sugar or coffee remember to put new on the bottom and older at the top.
  2. Monitor what you throw away. Write down everything you throw out during few weeks, including leftovers and spoiled products. By being aware of what you throw on the regular basis, you will see what you need to change. If you are tossing half portion of some meal every time you make it, maybe you should make less next time or find a way to reuse it.
  3. Keep inventory. Write down the upcoming expiration dates on items you have so you could plan your meals around it. You should create a list of the contents of your freezer, writing down when everything was frozen.
  4. Have a leftover day. Each week designate one day as a leftover day. On this day, you will look around your cupboards and fridge to see what leftovers or perishables you need to use and create a meal around it. You will be surprised how creative you can be when push comes to shove.
  5. Be creative. You don’t have to throw away fruits and vegetables that have started to go bad. You would be surprised how many uses they still have. Turn them into smoothies or juices, or use vegetables for soups. Make vegetable broth, pour it into the ice cube tray and freeze. This will become a great base for soups, stews and sautés.
  6. Compost. There is no need to throw away food scraps. If you didn’t have a chance to use up all the wilted produce, there is still a solution. Start a compost pile and turn your food waste into a great resource. Even if you don’t plan to use it, you can always donate it to friends and neighbors.

By being conscious of the food you eat, and even more conscious of the food you throw away, you can make a difference to the mountain of food left in landfill each week.

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