Most of us are looking to reduce food waste in our everyday lives but it can sometimes seem like an insurmountable task. These everyday tips and tricks will have you on your way to becoming a more environmentally minded person without impacting your day-to-day life much at all.
There are many of us that have it good and can eat what we want when we want. However, with this comes a high level of food waste. Sometimes, our eyes are bigger than our bellies so, we fill up our plate and end up having to throw some (or a lot) away.
Did you know that the average human wastes about 250 pounds of food every year?
Think about that for a second. If you have a family of four, your family alone wastes about a THOUSAND pounds of food a year. Can you imagine if you combined the waste from everyone in just one country like the United States? That is a lot of food wasted.
Here Are A Few Ways You Can Reduce Food Waste In Your Home
Use Leftovers for Composting
If you have a garden, save your leftovers as compost in order to further add nutrients to the soil for its growth. Composting is a great way to use up food scraps while saving you money on fertilizer or plant food. Composting is one of the most useful ways to ensure your garden is not only good for the current season but the seasons that are to come.
Keep a bowl on the countertop throughout the day for your everyday veggie scraps. Think garlic skins, onion skins, carrot tops, vegetable peelings, fruit skin, etc.
Empty it into a larger compost bin outside at the end of every day. You will be amazed at how quickly you can fill that thing up, and how much you will be keeping out of the landfill.
You can pick up a compost bin from your local hardware store or even on Amazon. Sometimes your local council will run classes and offer incentives (such as coupons for cheap or even free compost bins).
So be sure to do your research first.
Don't think you have the time to commit to composting?
If you don't have the time to commit to the whole nine yards when it comes to composting then just do the basics. Save your:
- banana skins,
- coffee grounds,
- and egg shells.
When you have enough then pop them into a blender with some water to make a 'smoothie' for the garden. Your plants will thank you, and you will be removing that little bit extra from the garbage to reduce food waste.
Only Buy What You Need
Sit down on a Sunday night, or whenever works for you, and write a concise shopping list of what you will be eating for the week ahead and what shopping you will need to do. If you have a head of lettuce wilting away in the fridge then incorporate that into a meal for Monday night. Some chicken that's coming up on its used by date: Tuesday's dinner.
Don't do another shop until you have made every meal on that list.
Store Food Properly
When we stick stuff in the freezer or fridge, especially leftovers, it can be carelessly tossed in or placed at the back of the fridge where we forget all about it until it is too late.
However, if you’re careful to store food in the correct manner, it ensures it lasts longer, tastes better, and doesn’t go bad. Look for containers that are air-tight, I prefer a glass with a silicone seal on the lid to ensure that it seals properly.
Keep things that need to be eaten sooner rather than later at the front of the fridge and make sure anything placed in the freezer has a label on it telling you what it is and when it should be used.
When you come home from the store take an extra 5 minutes to prep and store your food smart. If it needs to go into the fridge then put it in there straight away, don't let it wilt away on the bench overnight, and then put it away in sub-optimal condition.
Have a Leftovers Night
Once it nears the end of the week, dedicate one entire night to pulling out all the leftovers and making that dinner, for me that's a Sunday because I know I will be doing the shopping on Monday.
This not only helps remind you of what’s in the fridge that could go bad soon but, it also makes for an easy dinner night idea while helping ensure you are doing your bit to reduce food waste.
My favorite add-whatever-I-have-in-the-fridge-meals include:
- Soups, like this Tortellini Soup for the Soul;
- Salads. In fact, one of my favorite salads ever has come from a clear-out the fridge night. It is this Nectarine and Heirloom Tomato Salad, and it is divine.;
- Wraps: we regularly have a random concoction wrap for Sunday lunch.
Too many leftovers?
If you have too many leftovers, and they can be frozen then freeze them. My favorite things for freezing include homemade bread, meatballs, soups, pasta sauces made from scratch, granola bars, granola.
If you have fruit or veggies about to turn then freeze those too. My top tips for freezing produce include:
- Bananas: peel and freeze bananas on a baking tray, once frozen transfer to a Ziploc bag,
- Broccoli: This freezes better if you break it into florets and slightly blanch them first,
- Tomatoes: freeze well whole if you don't need them to hold up when you defrost them. I do prefer to make a sauce first and then freeze that though,
- Fruits: like apples, peaches, apricots, etc will turn a funny color if frozen without placing them in a bath of water and lemon juice first,
- Corn: freezes well if you chop off the kernels and freeze them spread out on a baking sheet before transferring to a Ziploc bag,
- Random veggie clippings: save them all in a Ziploc bag in the freezer until you have enough to make your own Homemade Vegetable Broth. (Be sure to check out the post to see what is good for freezing and what is not)
- Herbs: make them into a quick pesto or blitz them in the blender with some olive oil, pop into an ice cube tray, freeze, and then transfer to a Ziploc bag in the freezer until needed.
Keep Your Fridge and Pantry Organized
This ties right in with storing your food properly.
It can be easy to miss things sitting in our fridge when it’s a mess. By keeping your fridge organized, it makes it easier to know what you have so things don’t hide and spoil on you, becoming a big surprise later on.
It is easier starting from scratch, so at the end of every month I go through every shelf in the fridge and the pantry (tedious I know) and pull all the things to the front that need to be used up sooner rather than later.
Doing this might mean that you can hold off on shopping for a day or even a week. See how long you can last, and use up every last scrap in your fridge or freezer before doing another shop. Not only will you reduce food waste but you might also reduce your food bill!!
Reducing your and your family’s amount of food waste per year is much easier than it seems. It doesn’t require any major changes, just small adjustments that make us all a little more aware.
If you have anything to add please leave a comment and I will be sure to update the post and share your wisdom.
I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions! And if you implement anything here then please tag me on Instagram with @wholefoodbellies so I can share it.
You can find a full index of my recipes here if you need some inspiration for using up what you have in the fridge to reduce food waste in your home. If you are nailing this less food-waste thing then why not try to use less single-use plastics in your life?
Find some inspiration here: Tips For Living With Less Single Use Plastic.
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Thanks for sharing your tips Donna. I was especially pleased to see that you mentioned composting, as this is a method I feel strongly about. If everyone could compost even some of their food scraps, it would make a big impact on waste. Food scraps that go to landfill unfortunately can’t decompose properly, so hey just sit there.
I have a friend who gives me their left over coffee grounds from their coffee machine, so it really helps my pile 🙂
I completely agree Kevin! We have been composting for a few years now, after I learned about the fact that it can't decompose properly (which I was shocked to learn!). Coffee grounds, egg shells and banana peels always make up the bulk of my pile, and the kids love saving all the scraps throughout the day and taking it in turn to add the bowl to the pile 🙂