According to the Wasted Food site, Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. The food waste comes in many forms. Unattractive vegetables get discarded at the farm because they don’t look as perfect as consumers demand. Tons of uneaten restaurant food gets trashed because portions are ridiculously large. Grocery stores throw good food in dumpsters. And, food from our own refrigerators gets thrown away because it goes bad before we can eat it.
It’s not just the food that gets wasted when these things happen. It’s also all of the resources it took to grow and produce the food and all of the fuel it took to ship the food from farm to processing plant to grocery store.
Here are ten tips that you can use to help reduce some of this waste.
1. At your grocery store, find out where they place the food that’s marked down because it needs to be sold quickly or it will get thrown away. Often the bakery department will have a bin with half price day old bread that would be great for making French toast or Panzanella. The meat department will deeply discount meat that has a quickly approaching expiration date. You can take this meat home to eat that day or put it in the freezer to use in a few weeks. Many produce departments also mark down bruised or very ripe products.
2. At the farmers market, check to see if any of the vendors have reduced price damaged produce. Tomatoes that are bruised or not pretty make just as good tomato sauce as perfect tomatoes. Bruised peaches deserve to be made into a beautiful peach pie.
3. Keep small amounts of leftover cooked vegetables from your dinner on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. On Thursday nights, reheat the small amounts and let everyone chose which one they want for dinner.
4. When bananas go brown, throw them in the freezer. Find a good banana bread recipe and when you have enough for that recipe, thaw the bananas and make a yummy treat.
5. Don’t throw away the ends of bread. At the very least, feed them to the birds. Better yet, keep them in a bag in your freezer and pull them out to make fresh breadcrumbs for meatloaf, meatballs, or other dishes.
6. Eat leftovers for breakfast. There is no law that says breakfast has to be cereal or eggs.
8. Have leftover night. Don’t cook anything new. Create a buffet of foods from all of the containers of leftovers in your refrigerator and freezer.
9. Share. If you make a big pot of soup or chili or a huge lasagna, take a nice-sized portion to an older neighbor. They’ll appreciate it, and you won’t have that one serving of lasagna to throw out next time you clean out the fridge.
10. Compost. No matter how hard you try to not waste food, some will be leftover. There will always be carrot or potato peels or a mushy pepper that got lost at the bottom of the vegetable crisper. Start a compost pile and turn that wasted food into nutritious soil for your indoor and outdoor plants.