If you have not done so, please check on the internet about how much food we do waste (example links here and here). The numbers are way too big.
It is so appalling that we do that…
Considering how many people would benefit from these food that are dumped into the garbage and then to the landfill..
Considering how much we would have saved by not purchasing them or by consuming them later.
Considering how much food would become affordable if we have not inflated the purchase chain unnecessarily.
I must admit I too wasted food; not in big amounts but I did. I bought green produce and then before I could cook, they have gone bad; That mostly happened to me with parsley and other herbs.
For some time now, I am taking control of my food waste. Here are some tips; hopefully they will be useful to you. If you have other strategies to limit waste, please drop a line in the comments area so that we all can benefit from them 🙂
1. Do not buy what you do not need: This is probably the best strategy to limit the food waste. if you are a fan of meal planning, then go ahead and continue with it; my understanding is that meal planners only purchase what they will use in their meals for the week. Not everyone is benefiting from this, like myself. In my case, grocery shopping as needed is the most effective way to limit food waste (my advantage is that the store is 5 min from my home – I understand that this may not be possible for many of you.)
2. Eat what you have: Prepare your meals around what you have in the fridge, prioritizing the products that are still fresh or about to go bad. Note that nutritionally, the fresh and minimally processed food is the best. Make sure you consume the food while still in great condition. If you do have produce that is about to lose its vitality or to pass its best before date, prioritize them for consumption.
3. Organize your fridge and pantry: Every time you shop, take a moment or two to place the previously purchased food at easier to see and reach shelves. Then place the new ones on a separate shelf or behind the previously purchased food. This way it is easier to consume the old produce first.
4. Freeze the extra food: Some people may have deep freezers that may be very useful, too. I do not have one, but I do use the freezer section of my fridge. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies for later use. This is particularly good if you had catched sales and ended up with a larger amount. Pickling, preserving, and drying up the veggies/fruits are other alternatives. One of my friends dries up her unused herbs. Some others freeze them in ice-cube containers to be used later in soups or meals. I heard brewed coffee being preserved this way (to be used later as ice coffee – what a brilliant idea!).
5. Share it with others: Why not to share those extra items with your family, friends, neighbours, or poor people? This is always a delightful activity. Go ahead and share them, especially if you think that these people are in need, whether because of financial hardship, or death or sickness that can hit any of us anytime.
6. Choose the dried or canned alternative: This I find is most useful for me in the case of herbs. Do net get me wrong; the fresh herbs are great and I think they are more nutritious. But those like dill that I do not use frequently, or mint that I can hardly find fresh here are my dried herb queens. i am not in favor of using canned food too much, but canned tomatoes and other veggies may be a handy alternative, too.
7. Store your bits and use in vegetable stocks: It is not uncommon that only a small piece of a veggie or fruit will remain lingering in the fridge. What to do with these? keep a container in the fridge just for this purpose; collect all the bits before they go bad, and prepare a vegetable stock to be used in other dishes (soup, meat meals, rice and pasta etc.).
8. Store your bits and use as puree or dip: My favorite is to puree these bits; yep. Boil in water and then put through a blender to have a nutritious and rich paste; this can be used in other dishes. Amazing how well this feels; I am preparing one with leek leaves, lettuce, and green cabbage tomorrow to use in an eggplant dish. Try also as dips; yum!
9. Invest in freezer containers and bags, blender/processor, and other kitchen gadgets: Let them help you in this journey – they are worth it.
10. Take inventory every once a while and consume the food: Do not forget to eat those dried up, frozen, canned, or otherwise stored food!! I see myself doing this time to time. I guess I love preserving food, but hey, I gotta remember eating them, too. Remember, even frozen or canned food can go bad.
11. Make a mental note of not wasting food and be an advocate: All behavior is shaped by our thinking. Please take a moment, reflect on the benefits of not wasting food, and feel great about all the steps that can be taken to reduce this unnecessary waste. Reward yourself time to time, if that is going to positively enforce your behavior. Be a teacher and advocate and inform others about the negative consequences of food waste and the ways to limit it.