As a mom, I am in charge of buying the groceries for my family to eat every week. I am also in-charge of the budget. I feel responsible for the nutritional quality and the quantity of the food I buy. For years, I struggled to run an efficient kitchen where food was always available and nothing went to waste.
I used to buy a lot of food every week and my fridge was always stuffed. When I go shopping to buy my veggies the beautiful colors, shapes and textures often distract me. I want to buy everything, but there is something I have learned the hard way: Buy only what you need, not everything what you want.
Every month I used to clean the fridge. I noticed I was wasting almost a third of the food in I have bought due to decay. It shocked me. There are a lot people starving around the globe and I was hording food to later throw it away uneaten. I started thinking about making this system more sustainable, save some money, cut down on food waste and be more respectful about the planet. After doing some research, I notice this was happening not only in my household but in many more around me. According to the United States food safety administration, the amount of food waste that goes uneaten goes from 30 to 40 percent or as much as 20 pounds of food per person per month, that amount is the equivalent to $165 billion in food each year, but the damage is not only for the economy. The planet also pays a toll since about 70 percent of our water and 50 percent of our land is used only for agriculture. Reducing on food waste helps people, the environment, and also the economy.
I started making small changes to my shopping, improved kitchen storage and cooking. A little effort has gone a long way and I have made a big difference. My best practices to reduce food waste are:
1.- Shop smart
Having a plan when you go shopping will help you stay focus. Make a shopping list based on the menu you have planned for the week and be realistic about buying what you will use.
- – Use don’t loose
After doing your shopping, re-arrange your fridge. Use always the food that you bought first. Use the model “first in, first out” (FIFO). Using leftovers is another way to save. There are a lot of dishes that you can create and are as appealing and delicious as the original dish. If you can’t use them as a second dish, all leftover fruits, vegetables and portions can be preserved by freezing them. I use frozen portions in case of emergency. When I am very busy and I can’t cook, I reuse some of these portions. Ziploc bags and reusable containers have become my best allies. Make sure you mark them, what food it is and the date you save it. Depending on the item is the amount of time it can stay in the freezer.
- – Check again
Before go shopping again, check your cooler. See what do you have that can be used for next week’s meal plan. Get a budget, and make sure you don’t go over it. Try to include your leftover’s in the next’s week plan.
- Process all your food in one day
Try to process all your food in one day. I assign a day of the week where I know I can chop everything, bag it and get it ready. It not only will save you money but also it will save you time.
- – Educate other your family and other people too.
When I say this I may sound like my mother: “Eat everything in your plate, there are a lot of kids dying of hunger around the world” But the problem is bigger with food waste. Yes, there are millions of people around the world without food. Wasting it, is not only matter of saving money or the planet, or other people, is saving yourself too. Little changes accumulate and together we can make a difference. There are a lot of initiatives on the Internet that can help educate and inspire people to keep food out of the trash. Most often people don’t know how big the problem is. Communities that have programs and Initiatives to donate and avoid waste inspire other people to save food. Talk about your stories of success with your friends and family. You will be surprise about the amount of people that are interested on the topic.
If you want to know more about the topic or to get more information:
This 2013 report looks at the impact of worldwide food waste on the environment.
- NRDC Report: Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill.
- FAO Report: Global Food Losses and Food Waste
Author & blogger Jonathan Bloom writes about “why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it.”
- . U.S. EPA Resource Conservation – Food Waste website offers tips and strategies (mainly to businesses, but a lot is applicable to others) for reducing food waste and finding ways to divert it from landfills.