This week’s Sustainability Tip of the Week #STOTW tells us how to reduce food waste. According to National Geographic, 30% of the food we produce is never eaten and the average American family wastes more than 1,160 pounds of food a year. When you are throwing a piece of food out, you are not only wasting the food, but also all the resources used to produce that food. This includes the land, water, and energy required to grow and distribute that food. So what can you do to prevent food waste in your own home or dorm?
- Plan your meals out and shop smart. If you go to the grocery store with a plan for what you are going to buy and what you are going to use it for, you are less likely to waste food than if you grab random items you think you might use during the week.
- Don’t overbuy food. Only buy the exact amount of food you need for the near future, and plan to purchase more if needed in future trips to the grocery store. Try buying individual food items, like apples or potatoes, rather than bulk bags. This might be a little more expensive, but if you can afford the extra dollar or two, it will reduce your waste.
- When unpacking your grocery bags at home, put the newest items in the back of your fridge or cupboard and move the older items to the front. This will remind you to use older items first before they go bad.
- Be smarter about how you store your food. To keep items fresher for longer, try storing cereal and other loose grains in airtight containers. Freeze your fruits and vegetables so they don’t go bad as fast. You can also freeze any meat you don’t plan on using right away. If your bread tends to go fast before you can eat it all, try storing it in your fridge.
- Don’t always stick to expiration dates. Have you ever had milk or eggs that are a day past the expiration date, that you weren’t sure if you should eat or not? Expiration dates can sometimes be misleading. In most cases, they only indicate when the food item is no longer at its freshest state. This means that some items that are passed their expiration date may in fact be safe to eat. Use your best judgment. If everything looks and smells normal, it’s probably okay to consume.
- Cook only what you need to and store leftovers for later. Before you start cooking, portion out your serving sizes so that you don’t end up with way more food than necessary. After eating, put any leftovers in containers and refrigerate them. Bring leftovers to work or eat them for lunch rather than making something new.
Photo source: U.S. Department of Agriculture – Fresh Food in Garbage Can to Illustrate Waste – When you prepare to welcome family and friends this holiday season, good planning can help avoid wasting food and save you money. #USDA
Written by Alyssa Lemire, Class of 2017