We’re all guilty of food going bad. Sometimes it’s because of overbuying; other times because perfectly good food is overlooked in favor of eating out. The cost of food is increasing with close to 140 million Americans living in poverty, yet almost 40% of food in America is wasted. The good news is there are many ways to reduce food waste. All it takes is a little planning, organization, and community spirit.
The best way to ensure you use everything you buy is to meal plan. Before doing your weekly grocery shopping, make a list of the meals you plan to have over the next seven days. Check your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards and try and integrate perishable items you already have. Make a list of the ingredients you need for your meals for the week and (this is the key) stick to it when you go to the store. If you are buying items with a short shelf life, check the packaging for use by or best-before dates to ensure they align with your meal plan.
It’s also worth remembering that many items that have been bought fresh can be frozen. If you have an overflow of items that can’t be stored this way, such as salad items, consider using them to prepare a meal for a friend or neighbor. New parents, seniors, and shift workers are often especially grateful for a food parcel or meal.
Check Out Community Food Projects
Sadly, food banks are widespread and always in need of non-perishable items. If you have unopened items in your cupboard that you won’t use, consider donating them to a charity project like a food bank (but do them the courtesy of NOT giving them old, expired products).
Some neighborhoods have taken it upon themselves to work together to combat the amount of food being binned. Often run via social media, people can find a new home for their surplus food by offering it to anyone who can make use of it. If you have a WhatsApp or Facebook group for your street or town, this is often a good way of finding someone who can make use of food that would otherwise be thrown away.
Initiatives to Reduce Food Waste
Companies are increasingly aware of the amount of useable produce they dispose of and are finding ways to reduce this, like price reductions for items that need to be eaten within 24 hours. Some stores are creating bundles of fresh produce containing irregularly shaped fruit and vegetables that are still perfectly useable (bruised bananas are great for banana bread!).
Apps such as Too Good to Go are another way corporations are taking responsibility for the redistribution of food. Popular chains and independent stores can use the app to advertise surplus stock at discount prices. There’s an element of surprise involved as the goodie bags contain whatever is left at closing time, meaning it’s best suited to those without specific dietary requirements. However, the savings make this an attractive offer and ideal for nights when you’re too tired to cook.
There’s a great joy in knowing you’re reducing waste, helping others and the planet. These are ideal ways to make the best use of local resources. Add in the financial benefits and it’s easy to see why more people are finding creative ways to reduce food waste.