Food waste is a real problem all over the world. In fact, did you know that more than a third of all food produced around the globe is wasted? Here in America, we throw away up to 40 percent of our food, which then sits in landfills across the country producing methane gases that contribute to climate change. Despite all this excess, nearly 50 million Americans went without a nutritious, safe food source in 2013.
Experts say the problem is excess – too much food in relation to the population. With all the excess, people just don’t place a lot of value on it. Throwing food away is second nature, despite the fact that food prices have risen significantly over the last decade.
The good news is, however, you can do your part to reduce food waste and save money in the process. All it takes is a conscientious mind and a desire to make a positive change. Here are six ways to reduce food waste in your household.
1. Have a plan and shop smart.
Before ever heading out to the grocery store, plan your meals and make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Be realistic about the amount of food you’ll need, and be mindful of not buying too much when you get to the store.
This may mean making more shopping trips and buying less each time, but you’ll begin to see that you waste less food. Try to take advantage of local farmers’ markets when you can, too. When you know where your food comes from, you’re more apt to use it rather than waste it.
2. Don’t serve too much at meals.
Large portions and overeating has become the norm in the United States. This is partly due to restaurant culture where more is always better. Avoid this pitfall of American dining by using smaller plates and serving less food at the dinner table.
3. Change your attitude about leftovers.
If you do end up with leftovers after a meal, or you don’t eat your entire entrée at a restaurant, save the leftovers. Label them clearly so you know how long they’ve been in the refrigerator or freezer, and incorporate them into your next week’s menu where you can.
4. Store foods correctly for longevity.
You might be surprised to learn that some fruits prefer to be at room temperature rather than in the fridge. Storing foods correctly can extend their shelf lives significantly, so make it a point to find out where to put your foods so they last the longest.
5. Organize your refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
For many people, out of sight means out of mind. This is especially true when it comes to storing food. It’s easy to forget about something pushed to the back of the fridge until it goes bad and begins to smell.
Rather than wait for that to happen, adopt the tactic grocery stores use: rotate your food. When putting new groceries away, bring old foods to the front and place the new items behind so you consume the older foods first.
6. Keep a waste log.
One of the best ways to realize how much food you’re actually wasting is to keep a log of what you throw out. When you can see exactly what’s being wasted, you tend to change the way you shop, cook and serve.
The concept may sound silly, and you might think you contribute very little to the food waste problem. Just try documenting everything you throw away for a week for an eye-opening experience.
Food wasting is a major problem, but with just a few small changes, you can do your part to contribute less to the issue. Try one or all of the tips above to begin wasting less food in your own household, and ultimately, save more money.