From the farm down to retailers, in restaurants, and in our homes, Americans generate approximately 60 million tons of wasted food each year. In fact, some estimates indicate 25–40% of the food grown, processed, and transported in the U.S. is wasted, and an amazing 60% of that wasted food ends up in landfills.
Not only are these statistics reflective of an alarming food security issue in the United States, they also reveal a costly and damaging reality to both our wallets and our environment. You can do your part to reduce food waste, save your family money, and help the earth by making some simple changes at home. Here are 11 ways to reduce food waste in your home today.
Looking for more ways you can make a positive impact by reducing food waste? Check out 12 more ways to reduce food waste in your home!
Source: Tatertots & Jello
Whether it’s forgotten or expired, most food gets wasted because it’s purchased and never consumed. Reduce the amount of food you toss out by planning your weekly meals and proactively sticking to the plan.
Schedule meals that use fresh produce and meats early in the week, and save freezer meals for when fresh items are used up. Plan appropriately for guests, vacations, and special occasions so you keep the right amount of food on hand on a regular basis.
Don’t have time to plan? Check out our one-week, no waste meal plan or use KitchMe, a website that recommends recipes for you, compiles them into a weekly meal plan, and even pairs them up with coupons!
Source: Design Eat Repeat
With your meals planned out, compile a grocery list and stick to it. Avoid purchasing impulse items, purchase the right amount of fresh and non-freezable foods for your family, and pay close attention to the quality of the foods and listed expiration dates on items as you place them in your cart. Be sure to cross-check your shopping list with what you already have to avoid buying duplicates.
Prefer to create your list online? Check out Grocery iQ, a site and app that helps you create your online grocery list by allowing you to search through their database and scan barcodes. You can even organize items by aisle — no more running back and forth across the whole store!
3. Keep inventory
Source: Everyday Enchanting
To help plan your meals and grocery list, keep a written inventory of the items in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Take note of the items, expiration dates, and quantities to help you plan out meals to use up foods as well as avoid buying extras of items you don’t need.
Once home from the grocery store, take the time to prepare and properly store food so it stays fresh as long as possible — giving you the chance to consume it! Whether it’s freezing extra meat or rinsing and separating out fruits and vegetables, good preparation can extend the shelf life of your shopping trip.
Source: The Social Home
Transferring dry goods (cereal, chips, cookies, etc) to clear, airtight containers keeps these foods fresher longer by reducing exposure to air and moisture. Clear containers also help you identify on-hand quantities so you don’t buy more when you’ve got a full stock.
Keeping your pantry organized is an art form. Get the jump on disorganization with our tips for organizing your fridge and pantry.
6. Freeze food properly
Source: Design Mom
Buying foods when they’re in season helps keep costs down, improves flavor, and is better for the environment. Learn what items can be successfully frozen and how to do it properly so you can stock up on perishable foods when they’re at their peak. This tutorial shows you everything you need to know about freezing a whole winter’s worth of a summer harvest!
Vacuum sealers can help preserve your frozen food for even longer. Discover 8 tips for freezing your food with a vacuum sealer so you can enjoy leftovers, pre-made meals, and more frozen goodies for longer!
7. Learn how to can
Source: America’s Test Kitchen
Reduce waste by shopping for and preparing freezable, bulk recipes. Learn proper techniques for canning to preserve summer fruits and vegetables and stock up on large quantities of soups and sauces.
8. Freeze your herbs
Source: The Kitchn
Fresh herbs work wonders for enhancing a meal but certainly spoil fast. To reduce waste and reduce your produce budget, use this smart technique for freezing your herbs, keeping them fresh and available all year long!
9. Label your food
Source: Design Mom
Whether it’s in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer, don’t forget to label foods properly. In clear handwriting, mark the contents, the serving size, when it was packaged, and when it should be used by on each and every item. Keep freezer-friendly labeling supplies handy to make this process easy and efficient.
Source: Squawk Fox
Once freezer items are prepared and labeled, also take note of where and how to store them inside the freezer. Group like items together. Use bins and baskets to make items accessible (so they don’t get lost or forgotten in the back), and try to organize items by expiration date. If your freezer becomes quite full, make and maintain a key to help you quickly and easily locate deeply buried items.
Source: Pretty Handy Girl
Even with proper planning, savvy shopping, and using your freezer to the max, you’ll likely end up with some uneaten or inedible food. To reduce your food waste imprint even further, learn how to compost your fruits, vegetables, and coffee grinds to make nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Get more great composting tips here!
Reducing your own personal food waste doesn’t require a ton of effort. By implementing a few savvy food shopping and storage practices you can reduce the amount of food your family wastes, ultimately saving you money and helping the environment. Like most environmental causes, if each household does a little bit it can add up to significant food and cost savings over time!