In many third world countries, wasting food is not even considered an option, especially when there is usually not enough food to go around. Majority of Americans, however, have a huge problem with food waste. A large portion of food is thrown out by grocery stores and restaurants. The average household throws out up to 25% of their food, which costs over $2000 a year. Not only is food waste expensive, but it is a poor use of the resources that we have been blessed with.
Here are three easy ways that any family or individual can do to avoid food waste. Everyone could use an extra $2K in their pocket at the end of the year, after all.
1. Freeze More: The freezer is my favorite food saver. You can freeze so many things. I like to do freezer meal cooking once a month, which not only helps my budget but also cuts down on food waste and last minute trips to the grocery store. I also try to strategically place food items I do not eat fast enough in the freezer to avoid rot. Ezekiel bread is just one thing I keep in the freezer, and I don’t have to worry about the natural bread rotting too quickly. I also have minced a batch of garlic to keep in the fridge, as well as diced onions. Garlic and onion are a pain to cut up and are one of my top wasted foods, so having them at hand in the freezer has been much smarter for my household.
2. Purpose Your Recipes Around Expiring Food: I know I am not alone when I say that sometimes I look in the produce drawer and the cucumber or tomato I had just bought is beyond usable. It can be easy to forget produce in the fridge for a few weeks without realizing that it is rotting away. My challenge to myself and you is to look in your fridge twice a week and take inventory on what needs to be used up quickly. Most bad spots or moldy spots on produce, cheese, or bread can just be cut off. Here are some suggestions on how to use up some less than desirable foods:
- Soft apples and pears can be cooked into apple sauce or in an apple pie
- Milk that is close to its expiration (or past it) can be used in baked goods and bread
- Wilted or soft vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots, and asparagus can still taste delicious roasted with oil or added to soups.
- Wilted or soft vegetables and herbs can still be used to make vegetable stock. Just put all your vegetable waste in a crock pot with water and cook on low for several hours.
3. Don’t Mind the Expiration Date: As long as your food smells, looks, and tastes good, then it is good to eat. So many times we can throw away food items that are passed their expiration date without even looking at them. If your spinach still looks vibrant and doesn’t have a funky smell a few days after the expiration date, then there is no reason not to enjoy it. My husband also will drink milk past its date as long as it smells good.
It may seem harmless to throw away a few dollars worth of food each week, but it adds up quickly. Is food waste a problem in your household, and if so, how do you want to tackle it?