With the welcoming of the new year, there is no better time to start changing your food waste habits at home. Whether it’s what you’re eating, how you’re preparing it, or how you’re avoiding throwing it away, being more conscious of how you view food is a great goal for 2021! Here are a few great tips and tricks to not only help you reduce the amount of food you are wasting, but to save some more money and give your fruits and veggies the life that they deserve.
1. Only buy what you will eat
One reason that so much food goes to waste at home is because people do not plan properly for how much they are going to eat. Before you go shopping at the store, try to plan out how much produce and other foods you will actually need over the course of the week or next few days. Not only will this help you to reduce the amount of food that you throw away, but it will also save you money. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), as of 2017, Americans waste around 40% of the food they purchase, which is equivalent to buying 5 bags of groceries and leaving two in the parking lot.
2. Keep your produce in plain sight
One of the biggest reasons for so much produce going bad is that it is not eaten in time. This can be the spinach at the bottom of the veggie drawer, the berries in the back of the fridge, or the apples in the fruit bowl that no one can see. All of this produce fails to get the life they deserve and as a result, end up in the trash. Simply putting your fruits in veggies in plain sight or somewhere you look often can increase the chances that you’ll eat it instead of throwing it away.
3. Plan out your meals and try to stick to it
Not only does planning out your meals help to reduce that last minute stress of figuring out what to eat tonight, but it also helps to reduce your food waste. Planning out your meals is another way to hold yourself accountable for food waste as well. If you plan out what you’re going to make ahead of time and shop accordingly, there is a level of responsibility that you are holding yourself to in order to make/use that food up.
4. Freeze the foods that you cannot eat in time
Among the best ways that you can prevent food from going bad is freezing it before its time passes. Many meats and fruits can be frozen for future use. Frozen fruits are also great for making smoothies. When freezing fruits, remember to prepare them a bit before putting them in the freezer. This means washing things like berries or peeling the bananas. This helps increase the chances that you will use them in the future as well and can help you avoid having 15 bananas in the freezer that you’re definitely going to make banana bread with at some point.
5. Store your produce properly
Poor storing practices contributes greatly to the increasing food waste that we see in the United States and across the world. Many fruits and veggies are sensitive to ethylene, a gas produced by some fruits and veggies that encourages ripening. This is why sometimes your bananas seem to ripen way faster than other times, or your avocados go mushy and brown before you can eat them. Simply being aware of what produce can be stores by other produce can not only increase their longevity, but also your likeliness to consume them. For information about what to produce to store together, visit our page on produce loss.
6. Save certain veggie or meat scraps to make a broth
A food waste recipe that people don’t tend to know is that you can make your own broth at home from things that you would otherwise throw away. Saving the outer layers and ends of the onion as well as the peel and ends of carrots are a great way to make a delicious base for a veggie broth that you can use in other meals. If making a soup, celery ends are another great addition that can really bring the broth together. If you want a meat-based broth, simply boil the bones from steaks, chicken drumsticks, or other meats with the veggie scraps. These scraps usually take a while to accumulate so it’s helpful to freeze them in a bag or Tupperware until you have enough to make your broth