Food waste has been growing over the years with millions of dollars spent on food that ends up never being consumed.
We tend to easily complain about the rise in grocery prices but seldom look at our own consumption habits and cut back on the food waste we generate. It is very easy to forget about consuming food before the expiry dates and throw them away or food that has gone bad at the back of the refrigerator. During our trips to restaurants we may order food more than we require and trash the rest away.
Cutting back on the food we throw away is one of the simplest ways to save money and reduce our environmental impact. The production and processing of food is energy intensive and food waste in the landfills produce methane gas which contributes to the greenhouse effect. Here are 10 effective ways to reduce the food waste that you generate and save money in the process -
1. Plan your meals.
Prepping and planning your meals in advance will help you cut back on food waste significantly. Opt for meals to be prepared around the ingredients that you have and prioritize those ingredients that are soon to go bad. Apart from generating little food waste, meal planning saves you a lot of time as well and is a great way to form healthy eating habits.
2. Create a shopping list.
A shopping list prepared beforehand helps you avoid buying unnecessary things at the grocery store. Avoid shopping for groceries when hungry so as to not overspend and buy things that you do not need. When it comes to perishable goods, only buy quantities that you need. Make a note of all the things that you need, if writing down is not your thing you can use apps on your smartphone. Evernote is a great app to create shopping lists.
3. Store food properly.
Food can last for a longer duration when stored correctly. Avoid clutter in the refrigerator and set the right temperature. Use labels if needed to help you organize your pantry. Use air-tight containers for items such as biscuits and cereals. The freezer is perfect for items such as bread and fresh fruits. Frozen fruits are great when it comes to smoothies.
4. Use leftovers and takeaway.
Using leftovers for breakfast or lunch will save you money if you regularly buy your meals when at work or university. Create sandwiches, lasagna or any other recipe using leftovers. Alternatively, you can freeze them for later in the week. When dining in restaurants, ask for takeaways if you've ordered more than what you've eaten. It is much better to consume the food later than let it go to waste.
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5. Know the difference between best before and expiry dates.
You should not consume food after its expiration date. Best before dates are only an indicator of the quality, taste and nutrient content of the food. It is alright to consume a food past its best before date. Use your food safety skills and know if the food is still fit for consumption. If in doubt, throw it out.
6. Fresh produce can still be used beyond its prime.
Fresh fruits and vegetables can still be used beyond their prime. Use fruits for smoothies, cakes, pies and other desserts while vegetables can be used for stews and soups. You still need to use your food safety skills and know if it is still fit for consumption.
7. Track what you throw away, use them as feed for livestock.
Keep a log of all the items that you throw away. This will allow you to make a better choice when it comes to food consumption and avoid buying those food items that you have thrown away more often. Some amount of food waste is unavoidable, if you have chickens around you can feed them kitchen scrap. You can also use food scraps as a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden.
8. Donate food.
If you have food lying around that you know you won't consume, donate it. There are charity and other volunteering organizations around that can definitely put it to good use. Search for them on Google or through your local Facebook community and attend food donation drives.
9. Use food waste for energy and compost.
Food scraps such as coffee grounds, stale bread and tea bags are a very common occurrence among households. Composting is a natural process of decomposition and recycling organic material into a humus rich soil. Choose a method of composting which is more suitable for you. Alternatively use a compost bin, they are quite easily available as well and require less maintenance.
10. Try canning or pickling.
Canning or pickling your produce will keep your food for up to 5 years. Canning is a method of preserving food by processing and sealing fresh foods in an airtight container while pickling preserves food using a brine to anaerobically ferment the preserved food, then storing it in vinegar.
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