Food waste in America remains a huge issue of concern. On average, the U.S. produces nearly twice as much food than is actually consumed-wasting a staggering 40% of food produced. This is especially sad when according to the USDA, last year nearly 17.2 million households struggled to put food on the table each day. Additionally, an estimated 16.5 million American children go hungry every day because they either don't have access to food, or their families can't afford to buy it.
In my home, the majority of our family's food waste ends up in our compost, but I know I can definitely do more. Preventing food waste in the first place, is really what I need to improve upon.
In the last few months I've started shopping more deliberately, armed with a weekly meal plan, based on sales, coupons, and most important, what's in season. While our family loves to shop at local farmer's markets, our weekend schedule often doesn't permit the time, so I'll opt for the next best available chooses at the grocery store- fruits and vegetables that are labeled as being grown right here in Alabama or in bordering states. That way, I know I'm supporting the local food industry, and serving my family what's being grown during the current season.
Love Food, Hate Waste, is a UK government funded campaign that aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste.
Here are a few tips to consider while making an effort to reduce food waste:
-Meal Plan: Weekly meal plans are key to reducing waste as their structure helps us minimize purchasing any unnecessary ingredients.
-Use what you already have: Each week, take inventory of your refrigerator and pantry, working these items into your upcoming meal plan. This should especially be the case with any refrigerated items that are due expire soon.
-Compost: Composting can be an easy solution to food waste, but first it's important to learn the basics. Check out the Denver Urban Garden Web site to learn more about the how to's of composting and to learn about the many resulting benefits!
-Reducing leftovers: My husband likes to cook (I know, thank God!), and so too, do I. So most of the time, we cook big meals, and have a lot of leftovers. Most families would love having a fridge filled with ready-to-go meals, tomorrow night's dinner-solved! But not so much the case in our house, my kids are picky, and my husband isn't a big fan of leftovers. So this usually leaves me to eat them all. I'm generally not picky, in fact, most of the time, I'm just grateful to be able to simply reheat something yummy for lunch. But after two or three of eating the same thing, even I get a little tired of it. One way we're working to reduce our leftovers is to by cutting our recipes in half. For a family of four, where the kiddos are little (and sadly, not eating much of dinner these days anyhow) this is working out nicely. It also helps to keep portion control on target, and gives us an excuse to make a bigger salad!
-Keep a food waste diary: The folks over at The Kitchn, suggest logging your daily food waste. Doing so helps you to see the overall food waste generated by you and your family. This type of habit can also help you to become more mindful as you shop, and as you try to decide what to ditch, or what to keep for tomorrow's lunch.
Some other great resources:
-The Kitchn: Tips and Tricks: How to Avoid Wasting Food
-Love Food Hate Waste: By and Best Before Dates Explained
-Meals Matter- The Daily Meal Planner
-The Daily Green: 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste
-Planet Green: 75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn't
I'd love for you to share any additional tips about how to reduce food waste!