Americans waste $165 billion in food each year – which means that about 40% of all food in the United States goes uneaten. The National Resources Defense Council found that the average family of four wastes $2,275 annually – or 650 pounds of food! What a waste! Not only because of the huge impact on the environment, but the fact that one in five Americans struggle to put food on the table everyday.
Is your family part of this problem? Do you find that you throw a lot of food away each month? Are you looking for ways to save money? If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on to learn the 5 simple ways that my family reduces our food waste and get started in your own home.
#1: Do Not Over Buy
Just because avocados are on sale, doesn’t mean that you have to buy a cart full. This goes for food items that you aren’t going to eat by the expiration date. It doesn’t make sense to buy a lot of food, even if it is on sale, if you aren’t going to eat before it goes to waste! If you only utilize this one tip, your family will never throw food away and you will save a lot of money on your monthly grocery bill!
#2: Get Organized
The key is making sure that the food in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry isn’t going to waste is to keep everything organized. Keep all of the fruits, vegetables, dairy, beverages, condiments, homemade prepared foods, etc; together. Designate a special section of your refrigerator (up front and center) that houses all of the items that are getting close to expiration – that way when you reach for a snack or lunch, you know that those items need to be eaten first! Also, remember to keep your freezer organized so you don’t lose foods to freezer burn.
#3: Make a Meal Plan and Stick to It
A meal plan is essential if you are going to use all of the perishable foods in your kitchen in time. My husband is continuously aware of the food items that we currently have in our kitchen and what items needs to be used first. He will plan our weekly menu around these items and when he does go marketing, he only buys the foods that we will be consuming that week. Since we joined a CSA, he has been planning all of our meals around the contents of that box. Last week, we received Seminole pumpkins, tons of mixed greens, and a variety of vegetables – our meal plan for that week included; Seminole pumpkin raviolis, vegetable soup and a mixed green vegetable salad with every dinner.
#4: You Have to Cook
Number 3 and 4 go hand in hand – in order to make a meal plan and most importantly stick with it, you have to cook! Even though our lives are busier than ever, now it is even more important to cook at home with your family. With the rising rates of obesity, childhood diabetes and other food-related health problems, cooking whole foods at home with your family is imperative. If you literally do not have time during the week to prepare a home cooked meal – get up early on the weekend and make the week’s meals for your family ahead of time.
#5: Get Creative
At the end of week, my husband will look through our refrigerator, freezer and pantry and use whatever items are on their way out. For example; last week, he found a bunch of celery and carrots that were going limp – instead of tossing them out, he made homemade organic chicken noodle soup. Also, we had a bowl full of avocados that a friend had given us that were going mushy, we cut those up, placed them in an airtight container in the freezer. Now, I have yummy avocado for my morning smoothies. The idea is, just because those strawberries are turning mushy or that celery is limp, if you react quickly you can either use them immediately or freeze them to use in another meal later on.
What ways is your family utilizing to reduce the amount of food that is wasted in your home? I would love to hear your tips!