By Guest Blogger Laura Oxner
How many times a week do you pull questionable items out of the refrigerator and toss them in the trash? If your family is like most, throwing away excess food is a daily occurrence. In fact, the USDA estimates that up to 40% of our food is wasted. That’s like buying five bags of groceries, then leaving two in the parking lot and driving away. The food is never eaten and ends up in the garbage.
Six Tips to Waste Less Food
Wednesday, April 26, is Stop Food Waste Day. Though food waste costs the average household about $1,800 per year, some of that money could end up back in your pocket. Try these tips for wasting less food.
SavetheFood.com offers an interactive storage guide to help you properly store the food you purchase, giving you more time to use it and decreasing the odds that it goes in the trash.
Give food a second chance.
Learn the tricks for reviving wilted lettuce, stale bread, and burned entrees. It’s easier than you think!
Make a plan for what you have.
Scrambling to decide what to make for dinner? Go to your app store and download the free My Fridge Food app. Simply check off what’s in your fridge and pantry, then tap to get recipes using the items you have. No need to run to the store!
Learn about labels.
Date labels on foods often cause confusion, leading you to discard food that’s still perfectly good. According to Save the Food, most food expiration dates aren’t related to food safety, they’re related to food quality. Phrases such as “best before,” “use by,” “best by,” “best if used by,” and “enjoy by” all mean the food will be at peak quality until that date, but in most cases it’s good after that. “Sell by” is a date for stores to follow, to ensure that they sell items in time to allow plenty of opportunity for you to use the items at home. That said, if food has been left in a hot car or on the counter it can go bad well before the date on the package. Trust your eyes and nose to determine what’s past its prime. Safety first!
The freezer is your friend when it comes to preserving food. Bought too much? Ordering takeout instead of cooking? Heading out of town? Scan your refrigerator for items that may soon be past their prime and put them in the freezer. Place them in freezer-safe containers and label them so you can find them easily. The Natural Resources Defense Council offers lots of ideas for freezing food instead of throwing it away.
Love your leftovers.
Just over half of Americans take home leftovers from restaurant meals. That’s food that’s already paid for going to waste! Plan ahead to incorporate those leftovers into your next meal.
Own a Restaurant or Food-Related Business – Stop Food Waste There Too!
Food waste doesn’t just happen at home. If you work in food service, own a restaurant or a business involving food, or are otherwise affiliated with the food industry, these tips can help you save money and waste less at work, too. The local nonprofit A Simple Gesture has a food recovery program called RePurpose. Available in Guilford County, this free service picks up excess perishable food from businesses and delivers it to vetted nonprofit organizations serving meals to the community or to clients.
For example, if you cater and know you‘ll have extra food after an event, contact RePurpose to schedule a pickup. That excess food will be put to good use! Dozens of area businesses already participate—Food Lion, Sprouts, Aldi, Sheetz, Whole Foods, Lowe’s Foods, Little Caesar’s, Boho Berries, Bruegger’s Bagels, Plain & Fancy Catering, and City Barbeque, to name a few. To learn more or to find out how your business can participate, click here to contact RePurpose.
RePurpose food recovery is handled by trained volunteers who pick up excess food seven days a week. If you and your family want to get more involved in food recovery, click here to find out how you can volunteer.
Why We Need to Stop Food Waste
Some other great reasons to stop food waste:
- 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions result from food waste.
- Households account for 39% of the food waste in the United States–more than restaurants, grocery stores, or farms.
- If we recovered just one-fourth of the food wasted globally, we could feed all of the world’s undernourished people.
Let’s make Stop Food Waste Day the day to start a new habit. With a few simple changes we can all waste less food, save more money, and feed more people. Visit stopfoodwasteday.com and RePurpose food recovery to learn more.
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