Food waste is a well-documented problem, especially considering that over 1 billion people worldwide go hungry. If we have enough food to feed everybody, why are we throwing it away? With some simple steps, this is a problem that everyone can help eradicate.
Here are 7 simple steps that if followed will reduce food waste.
The first step is to buy only what you need, so make a list before you go to the grocery store and stick to it. I think we can all relate to going to the grocery store and overbuying and then a few weeks later throwing away food that we should have never bought in the first place. Especially with the pandemic where we are being advised to buy food for a 2-week span, it is even easier to overbuy. Making a grocery list is important, but also making a meal schedule so you know exactly what meals you will be eating for those two weeks, so nothing you buy goes to waste. I usually put the meal schedule on the back of my grocery list, so I know exactly what I’m buying food for.
The second step is to buy “ugly” or irregularly shaped fruits and vegetables. There is this misconception that consumers have that if produce is not perfectly shaped there is something wrong with it. Obviously with some fruits and vegetables that is the case, however for most produce there is nothing wrong with it. Grocery stores throw out millions of pounds of produce annually, just because it isn’t “pretty” enough, so next time you see an “ugly” fruit or vegetable don’t hesitate to buy it.
The third step is making sure your fridge is at the correct temperature to ensure freshness (1-5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and shelf-life). Your food may not last as long without you even knowing it, so go check your fridge now to make sure it is in the desired range.
The fourth step is the first in, first out system. Pretty self-explanatory make sure that older items are at the front of your fridge or cupboard, while newer ones are at the back, reducing the chances of your food going bad.
The fifth step is understanding the dates on food labels. Another common misconception from consumers is that after the best before date food has already gone bad, but that is not always the case. Certain products have a use by date, where even if it is after the best before date the food is still safe to eat. The best before date just means that is the time when the food is at its peak quality. Before you throw something out because it’s after the best before date, make sure to check if there is a use by date or check online because you may be throwing out safe to eat food.
The sixth step is to leave nothing behind, so make sure you package leftovers for another day or use them in another dish. Another tip is to buy tupperware, so you are reusing your containers when packaging leftovers. Leftovers can be easy for a next day packed lunch or if you have seen the show Chopped you can use it to make another meal.
The last step is to donate surplus food to others. If you are unable to use the food, but don’t want to throw it away, look for local community fridges or programs where you are able to donate the food, so it does not go to waste. Before taking a vacation you may forget about the food you have that will go bad, so make sure you check before you leave for a trip and try to donate as much as you can.
With these 7 simple steps we can all work together to eradicate food waste in our own homes.
What do you think? Have you used any of these steps in your everyday life? What are some other steps you can take to help reduce food waste?