Food waste has recently received a lot of media attention since a report published by the Natural Resource Defense Council found that 40% of the food we produce in the United States goes uneaten. That's $1,600 and 960 pounds of food wasted in every household across the country every year, and 90% of that food is wasted because of confusion over expiration dates.
"We've lost some of our food knowledge, and we're not sure when something is good or not." - Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)
Restaurants serve portions 4 times the size of meals that were served in the 1950s, and 17% of those meals are not eaten, which means we eat more and waste more. We throw out more food than plastic, metal, or glass. At the same time, 50 million Americans do not know where their next meal is going to come from.
Thankfully, there are many efforts already underway to divert food waste across Arizona, and we all have a role to play.
So what can we do to reduce our own food waste?
These 15 simple tips will make a huge impact:
- Share plates with friends and family or order smaller portions and half plate options.
- Take leftovers home, and actually eat them!
- Take inventory of your refrigerator and pantry and keep a list of all the fresh, frozen, and dried goods you have on hand.
- Plan your meals for the week so you know what you are cooking and when.
- Make your grocery list based off your meal plan and stick to it when you're at the store to avoid impulse purchases.
- Even if the larger container is cheaper, think about how much you will actually use and only buy what you need.
- Keep your bread, butter, and eggs in the refrigerator to extend their freshness by several weeks.
- Store onions and potatoes separately in a cool dry place to extend the life of both. The same goes for apples and bananas.
- Freeze overripe fruit and use up greens in smoothies.
- Store fresh herbs and greens wrapped loosely with a damp paper towel in a plastic bag and have a plan to to use them as they spoil quickly.
- Freeze meat, poultry, and seafood and place them back in the refrigerator the night before you plan to prepare them.
- Keep in mind the number of servings in recipes, and halve recipes if necessary or freeze leftovers.
- Try less expensive cuts of meat such as flank steak, ham hocks, and chicken thighs to support a more 'nose to tail' approach to meat consumption.
- Save washed vegetable scraps in the freezer such as onion peels and ends, carrot and celery greens, stems from herbs and greens, potato peels, and ends of cut vegetables like squash to make homemade vegetable stock. Save chicken or beef bones to also add.
- Compost all your other vegetable leftovers.