When food goes to waste, it costs you more than just the money you spent on the purchase—it plays a part in a global issue that we must all work together to fix. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, approximately one-third of all food produced in the world goes to waste. That’s enough to feed nearly 2 billion people every year!
Luckily, small changes can go a long way when it comes to reducing food waste in your own home. To help you get started, here are some things you can do right now.
Always make a shopping list!
Creating a shopping list may seem trivial, but doing so is extremely important if you’re serious about reducing your food waste at home. This is because, when you make a grocery list, it gives you an idea of what you need versus what we want. By knowing the difference between your wants and needs, you’re already saving—money, time, and the planet!
“Start by shopping or taking inventory of what’s already in the house,” says registered dietitian, Leah Van Dolder. “Look through your fridge, freezer, and pantry and write down what’s in stock. Review your list and plan out the meals you can make for the upcoming week using those ingredients. For the ingredients that aren’t in the house, make a grocery list of the items you need and stick to the list when grocery shopping.”
Don’t forget to meal prep.
Once you’ve taken the time to plan your grocery list, you can begin prepping your meals for the week. Some like to meal-prep for multiple days ahead, while others like to prepare their meals day by day. Either way, the key to doing it right is by watching your portion sizes.
“When we plan our meals ahead of time, it takes the uncertainty out of what we’re going to eat,” Van Dolder adds. “We put more thought into our food and the meals we plan are usually more nutritious and balanced. This is a great way to reduce food waste, save money, and improve our eating!”
Give your leftovers a second life.
Not all leftovers need to be disposed of. Sometimes, the food that you used to prepare your meals can be repurposed into a brand-new meal. For example, stale bread can be used to make things like breadcrumbs, croutons, and even french toast.
“Another game changer to help you eat better and reduce food waste is taking a sweep through the fridge once a week and using the butt-ends of vegetables left in the crisper,” Van Dolder says. “Use up these vegetables by adding them to a soup, stir-fry, or pasta sauce instead of throwing them into the compost bin.”
Give to the less fortunate whenever possible.
Many charities and food banks will accept non-perishable foods as donations to feed those who are suffering from food insecurity. Sometimes, this includes leftovers from home-cooked meals. In a world where so much food goes to waste (that could have fed a hungry belly), this is a viable option. The rules may vary depending on your specific state or area, so you should check with your local food bank before bringing over a donation.
Food is what unites us all as human beings. It brings us together and provides us life. With such pressing global food insecurity issues, reducing waste is of the utmost importance. Next time you’re thinking about what to cook for dinner, try these tips to help reduce food waste.
Feature image: Unsplash