It is estimated that in this country we throw away anywhere from 20% – 40% of our food supply. Food is one of the largest components of solid waste in our landfills. The good news is that with a few simple changes to the way we do things and think about food, we can significantly reduce the amount of food waste in our own homes.
- First In, First Out – Make sure that when you bring your groceries home and put them away that you are rotating your stock. Put the new items in the back. If you put your newest items at the front of the pantry, you run the risk of the food in the back expiring before you can use it.
- Eat leftovers – If you’re going to make it, you’re going to eat it. If you don’t like leftovers then adjust your recipes so that you are making just enough for the meals. However, learn which leftovers you do like and then make enough for a second meal or to bring for lunch the next day. Not only is this a money saver, but it’s also a time saver.
- Take Inventory – Before you go to the store, make sure you know what you’ve got. I’ve been guilty of picking up a gallon of milk because I couldn’t remember how much I had left. We don’t use a whole lot of milk in my house so if I already have a gallon one of them will surely go to waste.
- Store Properly – My grocery store does some amazing meat markdowns when they are getting close to the sell by date. I get my meats for next to nothing by shopping the “manager specials”. The key to it being a great deal though is proper storage. Once I get home, I portion the meat out into meals and use a Food Saver to ensure that my food is properly sealed and portioned. Probably one of the biggest areas for waste is freezer burned food.
- Use it All – You can eat the skin on foods like potatoes and cucumbers. They are delicious and nutrient rich.
- Find New Uses – Maybe your bananas got a little brown. That would make an awesome banana bread. Maybe your fruit is a little soft. That would make a great smoothie. Think outside the box before you toss something out.
- Start Canning – Did you go the Simply Frugal route and have a garden this year? Did you end up with more fruit and vegetables than you can possible eat or share? Can those goodies and have a taste of the garden all winter long.
- Donate – Periodically go through your pantry and find the items that you won’t use or are nearing their expiration date. Food Pantries are almost always looking for donations, especially this time of year. People always think to donate to the Food Pantry around the holidays but people are hungry all year round.
- Know when an Expiration Date Isn’t Really an Expiration Date – Most foods have a sell by date. That is rarely the date that the food is no longer safe to eat. Foods like dry pasta and canned goods are actually good for a couple years after the sell by date when stored properly.
- Be Conscious of What You Throw Out – Before you throw something out, write it down. At the end of the month add up what you’ve thrown out and figure out why it went to waste. Knowledge is power. When you figure out why you threw something out you can avoid that situation in the future.
These are some very simple ways that you can reduce the food waste in your own home. I’m sure you can come up with more if you take a few minutes and think about it.
Now that you’ve made an effort to reduce the food waste in your home, you are one step closer to Being Simply Frugal!