According to this report, an estimated 40 percent of food, from the farm to our table, is wasted in the United States. That adds up to an incredulous $165 BILLION dollars per year being thrown away by Americans! This is especially horrendous when you consider the fact that an estimated 800 million people around the world don’t have enough food to eat. The food that Americans waste would feed each of those starving people twice-over!
Supermarkets and restaurants have been catching on to how much food is wasted and have begun donating almost-expired foods, “ugly” fresh fruits and vegetables, and un-touched left-over food to food banks, homeless shelters, churches and community centers. This is a really good start, but there are also things that YOU can do to stop wasting food. Here are a few easy ways to do it.
At the grocery store
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but allow me to repeat it….never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry! Your low blood sugar levels will have you craving all of the junk food at the grocery store and makes everything you see look delicious. Not only will you over-spend, you will wind up throwing away a good portion of what you buy. Instead do this:
- Plan out a weekly menu and only buy the ingredients to make the food on your menu. This saves LOTS of money and food waste!
- Buy frozen fruits and vegetables. They last longer and taste just as good as fresh and there is less waste from farm to shelf, too.
- If you must buy fresh fruits and veggies, shop at supermarkets where they offer those “ugly” fruits and veggies at a discount
- Shop at farmer’s markets. Not only will you be getting your fruits and veggies at the peak of freshness, you’ll be supporting local growers. Again, though, be sure to not buy more than you will eat before it goes bad. If strawberries are in season, go ahead and buy that flat of berries at a super low cost. But, be sure to set some time aside to prepare them for canning or freezing because you know you won’t eat all of them before they spoil. Or, ask a local food bank if they would like your excess berries. Whatever you do, DO NOT throw them away!
When eating at a restaurant
Eating at restaurants can be expensive and some restaurants will serve one person a portion large enough for two. If you’re not a “doggy bag” kind of person, that can mean a lot of wasted food. So, when you dine out always:
If you aren’t going to eat that complimentary bread and butter, ask the waiter not to bring you any Share side dishes and desserts to cut down on waste and not add inches to your waist! Take home left-overs. Lots of food you order at a restaurant will taste just as good re-heated. Take it to work to eat for lunch the following day. When dining at a buffet, don’t use a tray, especially if you are super hungry. Trays enable you to carry a lot of food at once; food that might just go to waste if you don’t eat it all. People who use trays waste 32 percent more food than people who carry their plates in their hands. Many all-you-can-eat buffets don’t allow you to take leftovers home. Be sure to double check before you load up on food. At home:
- Plan meals so that, if there are leftovers, they can either be transformed into another dish (for example: roast beef and veggies one day, beef stew the next) or eaten again and still taste good.
- Don’t make more than you will eat unless you are planning to freeze it or you know you will eat it another day.
- Try not to waste high carbon footprint foods like meat. That way you are helping the environment as well as not wasting food and money.
- Store your fresh fruits and veggies the correct way. This article is a good resource to help you if you don’t know how.
- Use over-ripe or bruised fruit in smoothies or sauces