One of the questions I get asked most often is “where do I start?” When it comes to living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle there are so many different avenues that you could travel and so many different ways to go about it. So often we see the idyllic photos of a zero waste fridge on Instagram (guilty as charged) or the sustainable fashion blogger rocking an organic cotton dress that cost more than a month’s rent and think, “there’s no way I can do that.” So we get discouraged and shy away from making *any* changes. But my answer to “where do I start” is “right where you are.” That right where you are today is taking a peek in your fridge and seeing how you can reduce food waste in your home.
In the United States food waste is estimated to be between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. That number not only absolutely blows my mind, but it is harming our planet. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
– The 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change:United States Department of Agriculture
– Wholesome food that could have helped feed families in need is sent to landfills.
– The land, water, labor, energy and other inputs used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food are pulled away from uses that may have been more beneficial to society – and generate impacts on the environment that may endanger the long-run health of the planet.
-Food waste, which is the single largest component going into municipal landfills quickly generates methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States.
So we know what is happening to our food, but how do we change it? Well, here are ten tips to reduce food waste in our own homes- all of which are super easy to do and wont cost you money (it will actually save you plenty!)
10 Tips to Reduce Food Waste
Take Stock of What you have
Before you head to the grocery store, take a good look in your pantry and refrigerator. So often we buy what we think we need, but then find wilted carrots or moldy cheese in the back of the fridge because we re-bought items that we didn’t need!
Buy ‘Ugly’ Produce
Ugly produce needs love too! When you’re shopping at your local grocery store, pay attention to if you see any ‘atypical’ produce hiding on the produce shelves. Because of consumer’s shopping habits, many grocery stores will toss produce that isn’t considered pretty or typical for the variety because they don’t believe it will see. If we change the way we consume and pick up the silly looking tomato we can work with the retail sector to change the way we purchase food. Funny looking produce tastes the same and can give your countertop some quirky appeal.
Store Product Correctly
So we’ve gone shopping and have come home with lots of fun stuff that we didn’t re-buy. Now what? Store it! Take a look at your fridge, do you have produce drawers? Use them! Make sure the temperature of your fridge isn’t too low or too high, and keep produce on the counters out of the direct sunlight or heat. Take a bit of time to research what you regularly have in your house so you can store your food correctly to keep it fresh longer. The longer you can keep an item fresh, the more time you have to consume it!
Regrow Food Scraps
Regrowing your food scraps is not only a fun ‘experiment’ for your (or even better, your kiddos if you have any!) but you can stretch your dollar incredibly far when you have greens growing on your windowsill that are growing from what would have been thrown away! If you’re curious about regrowing your scraps I have a while How to Regrow Food Scraps on my YouTube channel!
Grow Herbs at Home
So now that you’re growing your scraps, make a little extra room on that windowsill and pop a few easy herb plants in the sun! When it comes to buying herbs for me, it is super hard to buy the correct amount I’ll need, either I wont have enough or I’ll have WAY too much of something and it will slowly wither into black in the back of the fridge. But, having a plant on hand that allows you to choose how much you need will not only reduce food waste, but reduce your plastic packaging consumption.
Preserve What is in Season
Preservation is key when it comes to a mission to reduce food waste! I love buying foods in bulk when they are in season; it is cheaper, the product doesn’t have to travel as long, and it will taste best when it is growing when it should! So try learning how to preserve- whether this be canning, dehydrating (I have a series on dehydrating foods right here on this site!), or popping things into the freezer, you’ll get way more use out of your food when you keep it fresh! This even works for meat- homemade jerky is amazing and if frozen properly meat can store for quite a long time as well.
Save Scraps for Stock
Oftentimes we toss out bits of produce that we aren’t going to consume. The ends, the skins, the stalks of your food can be popped into freezer bags (I happen to LOVE Stasher Bags for freezing! They are durable and reusable silicone and you can grab them from Target!) and made into a delicious stock later. These scraps have phenomenal taste and can be strained out later!
There are so many different ways to compost like using a countertop bin (I love this little pail) or a compost bin in your backyard if you own a home. And if you don’t have the ability to compost at home, check out composting services in your neighborhood! Try typing ‘composting services near me’ into your favorite search engine and see what pops up. I know Denver is very forward thinking when it comes to composting, but there were at least a dozen different composting services that showed up!
Use the Entire Item
You already know that you can regrow food scraps, save them for stock, or compost them, but if you’re looking to have a little more fun try creating recipes that use bits of the produce that you’d not normally think of! Two of my favorites are candying citrus rind and making almond milk pulp crackers!
10 Have Food Options
Last but not least, give yourself options when planning your meals. So often we think we will buy -insert your go-to dish here- ingredients in bulk and eat the same meal every night. I know for me, that isn’t something that works out well! I end up getting bored and wanting to order in food, meaning that the food that I’ve prepped doesn’t get eaten. If you give yourself a variety you’ll be more likely to consume what you’ve purchased. Happy belly, happy planet!
These are ten fun ways that you can start exactly where you are and lesson the environmental impact you have on this planet and reduce your food waste! No need to buy fancy accoutrements or do everything all at once, just a little bit helps. To paraphrase Anne Marie Bonneau, “we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it perfectly.” What is your favorite way to reduce food waste? Take a photo and tag me on Instagram! I’d love to share your tips!
Want to meal prep with me as we reduce food waste? Watch my latest YouTube video below!
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