As many of you may already know, April 22 is Earth Day and we’re here to talk to you about reducing your food waste at home. As registered dietitians, we proudly support sustainable lifestyles and habits that help our planet. Nutrition and the Earth may not appear to be correlated at a glance, but when looking at it further it is clear that they are completely intertwined! We need the Earth to grow the foods that adequately nourish our bods.
In the US, we are consuming more food, and wasting more food. There are many reasons for this, some of which include overproduction, perfectionism in how we want our food to look (shoutout to the imperfect carrots and bruised apples!), and improper storage. As the population continues to grow, one of the major questions facing our world is how we are going to feed all of these people? Rather than looking to new methods and resources for food production, it’s important that we do our due diligence to reduce food waste. One of the best ways to make an impact starts in the home!
So how do we make this happen? There are a number of steps we can take in our personal lives that will make an impact on food waste throughout our country and, in turn, throughout our world.
- Meal Planning: Create a meal plan for the week and a grocery list that coincides with the plan. When you go to the grocery store, stick to the list. This prevents you from over-purchasing foods that you do not need and will not use. When you meal plan, you utilize the food you buy, therefore reducing foods wasted. Make sure to check your inventory to see what you already have and build meals based on ingredients that are already there.
- Properly Store Foods: Properly storing foods preserves the shelf life on them so you aren’t ditching foods that go bad. Invest in airtight containers to keep foods. Store packaged foods according to the package directions. Make sure your refrigerator is 40F or below. For specific fruit and vegetable storage, check out this great guide here.
- Freeze Foods: Freeze foods that you know you won’t use all of before it goes bad. You can freeze almost anything. Make leftovers to freeze, freeze chopped fruits or select vegetables, packaged breads, cheese, and even milk!
- Smaller Portions: Serve smaller portions so that you only eat what you need. You can always go back for seconds rather than throwing out when you took too much. Pack the leftovers and enjoy them the next day!
- Check Expiration Dates: Many of us often forget to check the expiration dates on food items, but regularly checking the date can save us an immense amount of food. Be sure to check cans, labels, and packages for dates and those with that expire sooner should be moved to a more visible area so you remember to use those products first.
- Repurpose Food Scraps: Don’t put those food scraps to waste! Use leftover veggies for vegetable stocks, almond meal for baking, or over ripened fruit for desserts and smoothies. One of our favorite things to do is use up leftover carrot tops, onion skins, kale stems, and other vegetable scraps for making soup stock.
- Declutter the Fridge: In a cluttered refrigerator, many items get shoved to the back and you find them much later in a not-so-pleasant state. Be sure to organize the fridge so that you can see what you actually have. Commit to cleaning out the fridge twice a month.
- FoodKeeper App: This app can also help you use food when it is at its peak quality, thus reducing waste. Check out the free app here.
For more information on other aspects for sustainable eating, listen to our podcast episode here. What ways do you try to reduce food waste? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below! xoxo