Food waste has become a hot topic lately when talking about the sustainability of our food supply and the effect our carbon footprints have on the planet.
It seems that every week we have extra food in the refrigerator that it seems our only option is to throw away to make room for fresher foods. We may have wilted produce, browning fruits or too old leftovers. Perhaps we have foods that we put in the freezer a long time ago that are now too freezer burned to be palatable or safe to eat.
There are several things we can do to reduce the amount of food waste we create:
- Plan your weekly menus according to the amount of foods your family will eat. Make a shopping list so you don’t buy things you don’t need that week. We often make too much for a meal but not enough for another whole meal so the leftovers tend to get tossed.
- Re-purpose any leftovers into new meals so that the family won’t balk at eating the same thing again.
- Wash and cut up produce when you bring it home from the market and place into single serving baggies or containers. They will be easier for family members to choose for snacks or add to bag lunches so that the produce won’t wilt before you get to it.
- Save things like bread ends or extra burger rolls for use as croutons or breadcrumbs.
- Label and date all food placed in the freezer. Keep a running list on the outside with dates of expiration so that you can see at a glance what is stored and when it needs to be used before you are forced to throw it away.
- Buying in bulk is only a value if you can eat it before it goes bad. If you think you may not eat extra portions, freeze them in containers that will hold the amount needed for another serving.
- Start a compost pile with your food scraps that you can use to grow new vegetables or nourish other yard plants and flowers.
- If you have a garden or want to take advantage of great in season produce, try other options such as dehydrating, canning or pickling to safely keep foods longer.
It takes a little thought and creativity to reuse and re-purpose some of the foods we have in our pantry, freezer and refrigerator. Reducing the amount of food waste we send to the landfill helps the planet and your budget!