Most people don’t realize what a big problem food waste is.
Nearly one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various different reasons which equals nearly 1.3 billion tons every year (1).
Industrialized countries like the United States waste more food than developing nations. In 2010, the average American generated about 219 pounds (99 kg) of food waste, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2).
I know what your thinking. You’re thinking food waste doesn’t affect you but it does.
Tossing edible food doesn’t just waste money. Discarded food is sent to landfills, where it rots and produces methane gas, which is the second most common greenhouse gas. In other words, throwing out your food contributes to climate change. (3)
It wastes a huge amount of water, too. According to the World Resources Institute, 24% of all the water used for agriculture is lost through food waste every year. That’s 45 trillion gallons (about 170 trillion liters). (4)
I know that this all may seem a little overwhelming, but you can help reduce this harmful cycle by following these easy tips. Every little thing you do helps.
1. Drink More Water
Many people don’t drink enough water.
They just don’t like the taste, flavor, or lack of flavor.
Luckily, you can make water tastier and reduce your food waste impact at the same time.
Making your water taste good will increase the amount of water you drink.
Use peels from citrus fruits, apples, and cucumbers to add some pep to your glass of water.
Wilted herbs and berry tops also make excellent additions to your water bottle.
After finishing your water, toss the leftover fruit or herbs into a smoothie for a zero-waste nutrition boost.
2. Keep Your Serving Sizes Under Control
Overeating is a problem for many people.
Keeping track of your portion size not only keeps your weight within a healthy range but it also reduces your food waste.
In addition, keep track of how hungry you truly are to help you practice portion control.
Also, don’t even think about scraping those leftovers into the garbage.
Remember that food waste has a major impact on the environment.
3. Get To Know Your Freezer
Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to preserve it, and the types of food that take well to freezing are endless.
Did you know that greens that are a bit too soft to be used in your salad can be put in freezer-safe bags or containers and used at a later date in smoothies and other recipes?
An excess of herbs can be combined with olive oil and chopped garlic, then frozen in ice cube trays for a handy and delicious addition to sautés and other dishes.
You can freeze leftovers from meals, excess produce, and bulk meals like casseroles, soups, and chilis. It’s a great way to ensure you always have a healthy, home-cooked meal available.
4. Compost if you’re able
Composting leftover food is a beneficial way to reuse food scraps, turning food waste into energy for plants. (5)
While not everyone has room for an outdoor composting system, there’s a wide range of countertop composting systems that make this practice easy and accessible for everyone, even those with limited space. (6)
An outdoor composter may work well for someone with a large garden, while a countertop composter is best for city dwellers with houseplants or small herb gardens. (7)
5. Pay Attention To Expiration Dates
“Sell by” and “expires on” are just two of the many confusing terms companies use on food labels to let consumers know when a product will most likely go bad.
The problem is, the US government doesn’t regulate these terms (8).
In fact, the task is often left to food producers to determine the date they think a product is most likely to spoil by. The truth is, most food that has just passed its expiration date is still safe to eat. (9)
“Sell by” is used to inform retailers when the product should be sold or removed from the shelves. “Best by” is a suggested date that consumers should use their products by.
Neither of these terms means that the product is unsafe to eat after the given date.
While many of these labels are unclear, “use by” is the best one to follow. This term means that the food may not be at its best quality past the listed date (10).
There are changes coming to the way food is labeled.
In the meantime, use your best judgment when deciding whether food that is slightly past its expiration date is safe to eat.
6. Making homemade stock is an easy way to use excess food.
Sauté vegetable scraps like the tops, stalks, peels and any other leftover bits with some olive oil or butter, then add water and let them simmer into a savoury vegetable broth.
Veggies aren’t the only scraps that can be transformed into stock.
Rather than letting the chicken carcass or meat bones leftover from your dinner go to waste, simmer them with veggies, herbs, and water to make a homemade stock that will put store-bought broth to shame.
7. Pack Your Lunch
Going out to lunch with coworkers or dining out at your favorite restaurant with your family may be enjoyable, it is also costly and can contribute to food waste.
A helpful way to save money while reducing your carbon footprint is to bring your lunch to work with you.
Leftovers from home-cooked meals are an excellent source for a satisfying and healthy lunch for your workday.
If your mornings are quite hectic, try freezing your leftovers in portion-sized containers. That way, you’ll have premade, hearty lunches ready to go each morning.
8. Don’t Toss The Coffee Grounds
If you’re a coffee drinker, chances are you generate a lot of coffee grounds.
Interestingly, this often-overlooked leftover has many uses.
Those with a green thumb may be delighted to know that coffee grounds make excellent fertilizer for plants. The grounds are high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are nutrients that plants crave. (11)
Coffee grounds also make a fantastic natural mosquito repellent.
In fact, research has shown that sprinkling spent coffee grounds in grassy areas deters female mosquitos from laying eggs, reducing the population of these pesky insects (12).
9. Eat the Skin
People often remove the skins of fruits, veggies, and chicken when preparing meals.
This is such a waste because so many nutrients are located in the outer layer of produce and in poultry skin. For example, apple skins contain a large amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Chicken skin is packed with nutrients as well, including vitamin A, B vitamins, protein and healthy fats (14).
These benefits are not limited to chicken and apple skin. The outer layers of potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, mangoes, kiwis, and eggplants are also edible and nutritious.
Not only is eating the skin delicious, but it’s also economical and reduces your food waste impact.
10. Eat the Yolk
Although most people are moving away from the once-popular low-fat dieting trend, many still avoid egg yolks, opting for egg-white omelets and scrambled egg whites instead.
Avoiding egg yolks mostly stems from the fear that they increase cholesterol levels. Many people assume that eating foods high in cholesterol, like eggs, have a major impact on cholesterol levels.
Your liver actually makes the majority of the cholesterol you need and your body closely regulates levels in the blood. When you eat foods that contain a high amount of cholesterol, your liver simply compensates by producing less. (18)
What’s more, egg yolks are packed with nutrients, including protein, vitamin A, iron, selenium, and B vitamins (20).
If you simply don’t like the taste or texture of egg yolks, you can add them to other recipes to mask the flavor. You can even use yolks as an ultra-moisturizing hair mask.
11. Indulge In Some You Time
If you want to save money while avoiding potentially harmful chemicals found in some skincare products, try preparing a scrub or mask at home.
Combine overripe avocado with a bit of honey for a luxurious combination that can be used on the face or hair.
Mixing used coffee grounds with a bit of sugar and olive oil makes for an invigorating body scrub.
You can also apply cool used tea bags or excess cucumber slices to your eyes to reduce puffiness.
12. Be Creative in the Kitchen
Cooking your own food in your own kitchen means you can make recipes to your liking, adding new flavors and ingredients.
Including parts of foods that aren’t usually used is an excellent way to repurpose scraps when you’re experimenting in the kitchen.
Stems and stalks make tasty additions to sautés and baked dishes, while garlic and onion ends can bring flavor to stocks and sauces.
Whipping up a fresh pesto made with broccoli stalks, soft tomatoes, wilted spinach or cilantro rather than the traditional basil is an inventive way to add a tasty twist to favorite dishes. (22)
13. Use Your Blender
Blending up a nutrient-packed smoothie can be a delicious way to reduce food waste.
While the stems, ends, and peels of produce may not be appetizing in their whole form, adding them to a smoothie is a way to reap their many benefits.
Other items that would otherwise be discarded can also be thrown into a nutritious blend, including fruit and vegetable peels, wilted herbs, overripe bananas, and chopped broccoli stalks.
14. Learn To Eat The Seeds
Out of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the United States every year, most end up getting thrown away.
While carving pumpkins can be fun for the whole family, there are ways to reduce the waste that comes along with this activity.
Aside from using the tasty flesh of your pumpkins in recipes and baking, a great way to cut waste is to save the seeds. In fact, pumpkin seeds are tasty and packed with nutrients.
To save pumpkin seeds, simply wash and dry the seeds, then toss them with a little olive oil and salt and toast them in the oven.
Acorn and butternut squash seeds can be prepared in the same way.
15. Store Your Food Correctly
Improper storage leads to a massive amount of food waste.
According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, about two-thirds of household waste in the United Kingdom is due to food spoilage (4).
Many people are unsure how to store fruits and vegetables, which can lead to premature ripening and, eventually, rotten produce.
For instance, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, and onions should never be refrigerated. These items should be kept at room temperature.
Separating foods that produce more ethylene gas from those that don’t is another great way to reduce food spoilage. Ethylene promotes ripening in foods and could lead to spoilage.
Foods that produce ethylene gas while ripening include:
- Green onions
Keep these foods away from ethylene-sensitive produce like potatoes, apples, leafy greens, berries and peppers to avoid premature spoilage.
By thinking more about the food your household wastes every day, you can help create positive change to conserve some of the earth’s most valuable resources.
And just think how much money you will save as well.
I want to send out a special thanks to the website healthline which is where I found these great ideas and all this information.
Remember, DREAM BIG… the possibilities are endless!
Dream BIG... the possibilities are endless!
Welcome. I’m Kelli and I’m really glad to meet you. I’m an adoring wife to my soulmate and mother to four precious kiddos. I’m on a journey teaching others what I’ve learned so far making money blogging and creating and selling digital products. In addition, I love blogging, brownies (the gooey kind :)), the Living Well Planner created by Elite Blog Academy’s Ruth Soukup (just love love love her too!), and oh so many more things and I’ve created this here little blog to share it all with you so grab a cup of whatever it is you’re drinking and sit back and enjoy the ride!
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