Do you feel like you throw away a lot more food than you should? You aren’t alone. The Food and Agriculture Organization conducted a study in 2011 which found that 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted around the world each year. That’s a third of the food on the market for human consumption, and it’s enough to feed those starving kids on the other side of the world your mother always told you about. So what do you do?
Take Inventory: Before you go shopping, look through your fridge and pantry. Take note of what you already have and what you need to go with it to make a meal. This will help ensure you use what you have already bought, and that you don’t buy too much of one thing.
Leftover Lottery: Not interested in eating the same thing you had last night? While it can seem very time efficient to cook large meals and heat up the remainder later, it doesn’t help if you don’t actually eat the leftovers. Try using your surplus food in new recipes. Turn those extra chicken breasts into chicken salad sandwiches, or use last night’s chili to make chili dogs.
Only Buy What You’ll Use: Need a couple of carrots to make that beef stew? Don’t buy a whole bag unless you know you’ll use them in other recipes or for snacks. Buying just the necessities means you don’t have to figure out what to do with the remainder.
First In, First Out: Have you ever found a box or can at the back of the pantry that had already been expired for months? This problem is easily solved by stocking your shelves the same way grocery stores do. Add your new food supplies to the back of the shelf and bring your current stock forward. This helps ensure that you consume the food before its expiration date.
Store It Properly: It’s a shame to throw out half a box of cereal because it’s gone stale. Invest a little bit of cash in airtight containers for cookies, crackers, cereals, and baking goods. Also, pay attention to the best way to store your produce. The wrong temperature or packaging can have you pitching it well before you’ve had the chance to eat it.
Compost It: Even if you are using up every part of your fruits and veggies that you can, you may still end up with rinds or peels that aren’t edible. Start a compost pile in your backyard to create rich soil for your garden or flowerbeds.
Donate It: Did you find a great sale on canned beans and stock up, only to find that your family doesn’t like that particular brand? Donate items you won’t use to a local food pantry.
The food that is wasted each year also wastes billions of dollars, not to mention the water and energy used to create the food in the first place. Fortunately, it isn’t that hard to make a few lifestyle changes that will greatly reduce what goes in the trash can and what comes out of your wallet.