Often, the 2-for-1 specials at the grocery store are quite enticing. Who wouldn’t want two packages of chicken breast for the price of one? Unfortunately, these discounts are not always the best “deal” for our environment.
Food waste contributes to the world’s carbon footprint. According to an article on Politico’s site, “1.3 billion tons of food are wasted or lost worldwide. Saving just a quarter of this food would feed the 795 million people going hungry and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.3 giga-tons.” (Barilla. 12/8/16. “The Food Sustainability Index: Establishing a more sustainable food system.”) Click here for the full article.
Here are a few tips to help reduce food waste in your home:
1. Shop smarter. Avoid buying in bulk if you know you won’t be able to eat the food before it expires. Studies have shown that nearly 80% of people buy extra when the item is on sale and end up with more than they need. Try planning one or two meatless meals per week – they are cheaper to make and lower in greenhouse gas emissions. Consider Cuban beans and rice with a side salad or try a tofu or edamame stir-fry!
2. Plan your menu ahead of time. Take a few minutes to think about your week before going to the store. Will you be dining out with friends? Are you planning on cooking a large crockpot meal, which will give you leftovers for a few nights? Peek in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator before you venture out to the grocery store. Knowing what you already have will reduce food waste and cut down on your food bill. Get in the habit of making a grocery list (I use the notes app on my phone.)
3. Baby your bananas. Bananas can cause other nearby fruits to ripen quicker leading to spoilage, so keep your bananas separate. To prevent your bananas from ripening too quick, keep them all together and wrap the stems with plastic wrap to maintain freshness. Overripe bananas can be peeled and frozen for later use in smoothies, banana bread, or a quick dairy-free ice cream blend. Click here for the recipe!
4. Be besties with your freezer. Did you buy two loaves of bread? Freeze one! Depending on the item and type of freezer you are using, most items can last between 3 – 6 months and sometimes a year in the freezer. Going longer than recommended, however, puts your food at risk of freezer burn (FDA Freezer Chart). If the bread has gone stale, you can make homemade croutons or a delicious Panzanella salad. If you purchase bulk meats, take them out of the packaging and place each piece in individual freezer bags. That way, you can grab what you need and keep the extra for another day.
5. Take up pickling. If you bought a lot of produce, look for a simple canning recipe online to make pickled vegetables. Make sure you have ample storage containers. If you have kids, get them involved in breaking cauliflower apart, measuring out spices, or cleaning jars. Make it a family event!
6. Get in the habit of FIFO. This stands for First in, First out. Get in the habit of moving older produce to the front (or take it out of the produce drawer and place it in sight) while placing newer produce in the back of the refrigerator.
7. Donate. Think about donating to your local food bank or soup kitchen. If you have nonperishable items you know you will not be using anytime soon, send them off to a family in need.
And remember…think globally. Act locally.
Ask us about the Your Fuel nutrition counseling program by HealthEase – offering private sessions at your worksite – and, most health insurance plans cover the cost 100%!
For info, contact HealthEase at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog is by: Robyn Beechuk, MPH, RD, LDN, a Your Fuel Dietitian
For her recipes: https://www.robynswellness.com/recipes