Are you concerned about learning how to reduce food waste? The trash from our kitchens can add to the amount of trash going to the landfill. In 2017, Canadians were throwing away 63% that could have been eaten.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. While many restaurants and stores are getting on board with reducing food waste, there’s plenty you can do as an individual, too.
Use the following tips to cut down on the amount of food you’re tossing in the trash. You’ll help the environment and save on your food budget at the same time.
1. Plan Your Shopping and Meal Preparation
One of the smartest things you can do to cut down on food waste is to make a weekly (or monthly) plan for grocery shopping and meal ideas.
Buying food in a disorganized way and deciding meals on the fly is going to result in some food getting wasted. Have you already had the experience of having to toss fresh fruit and vegetables that you just didn’t get around to using up?
You can take steps to prevent that from happening. If you take a few minutes to plan out a menu and shop accordingly, it cuts down on what gets overlooked in the fridge and freezer.
To make this more automatic, use a whiteboard in the kitchen or a notebook on the counter for your planning. It will become a habit that gets easier over time.
2. Develop Smart Shopping Habits
There are actually shopping habits you can develop that will cut down on the food wasted and help it to stay fresh longer:
- Check the best-before dates to make sure you get the freshest items.
- Bring a cooler to store perishables until you get home.
- Unpack and deal with perishables right away to preserve them longer.
- Store foods appropriately for the longest shelf life.
- Make sure cool air can circulate around your perishables to keep them fresh.
- Don’t buy canned or boxed foods that have dents or broken seals.
Post a list of these ideas in the kitchen so you see them often. After a time, they’ll become second nature and you’ll do them automatically.
3. Make Good Use of Your Freezer
If you have a large enough freezer, make good use of it by cooking in bulk and saving meals in reusable containers for the week or month. Make sure to label them with a date so you’ll know how long to leave them in the freezer.
Some families get together on weekends or holidays and turn this event into a social activity for the day. They create all of their meals for the coming month and free up the other weekends to do other things.
If you don’t have a large enough freezer for this kind of bulk meal preparation, you could still save smaller amounts of meal leftovers by freezing them to use later.
4. Use Preserves and Canning to Stock Up
Along the same lines as freezing batches of meals, you can also preserve or can foods to use later. People do this with soups and stews to create a meal-in-a-bottle.
If it’s not something you’ve done before, ask a friend or relative to help you the first time and learn their tips and tricks. It’s a great way to pass along knowledge and spend time together.
This is not a new thing. Preserving and curing foods is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years and still works as well today to increase the life of your food.
5. Compost Food Scraps to Avoid Waste
The food scraps from vegetables and fruit, plus other items like coffee grounds and clean egg shells, can help grow new items and create richer soil for future produce.
You can use them in an outdoor composting bin if you have your own garden, or you can do some indoor composting if you have room for it. Living in an apartment or condo doesn’t mean you can’t compost.
However, if you can’t compost yourself, you may have a neighbor or friend who does and will take your leftovers. Or there may be a community composting program in your local area.
6. Keep Storage Clean and Organized
It pays to take time each month to clean and organize storage areas like the pantry, cupboards, and fridge. When you do this, you’ll know what you have in terms of food supplies.
Cluttered and disorganized storage areas hamper your ability to know what you have on hand and what you need to buy for the week’s meals, which can lead to wastage.
7. Embrace the Leftovers
Like cooking meals in batches, using leftovers from large meals will help reduce food waste, and it will save on your food budget. You can store them in the fridge or freeze them for later use.
Leftovers also make an easy to pack lunch for work or school. And, if you store them in a clear container, you’re more likely to remember to use them up.
8. Keep the Pantry Stocked
If you have enough space for a pantry or large storage cupboard, keep it stocked with food items that don’t perish easily. Think dried beans and peas, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, flours, and canned sauces.
If you buy these types of items on sale, you’ll save money, and you’ll have them available to create meals and avoid wasting food by not having what you need on hand.
9. Don’t Be Quick to Trash Food
Too often, we assume the food is bad because it has a few bruises or blemishes. Don’t be too quick to toss these in the trash or compost. There may be plenty of good left in them.
Often, you can just cut away the bruised parts and have perfectly good food left. You can also use things like overripe bananas to bake if you don’t want to eat them as they are.
Use these tips and ideas to reduce your food waste. Talk with friends and family to find out what they do to cut down on throwing food in the trash. Every little bit helps the environment. And, with today’s cost of living, it can help you with your budget, too.