Have you ever forgotten about the hidden carton of berries in the back of your refrigerator until it’s too late? Opted for take-out instead of using those veggies? Realized one bite too late that the box of crackers you just opened expired in….2019? Yikes.
We’ve all been there, and the statistics prove it. In a recent study, the NRDC found 38% of all trash generated by households in the Asheville area is actually food waste. That’s almost half!
If only there was some way to save money, reduce your garbage each week and do your part to help the environment and your community… Well, actually, we’re here to tell you there is! With the help of the NRDC, we’ve compiled 7 simple ways to reduce food waste in your home.
1. Know Before You Go
Introducing mindfulness into your shopping routine is the first step to addressing food waste in your home. Before you make that grocery run, consider what meals you’ll be making for the week. Then, take a look at your fridge, freezer and pantry. After you take inventory of what you already have, make your grocery list and stick to it!
2. Get Creative About Cooking
With a little thought (and googling!), you can find a use for everything. That could mean making pesto out of carrot tops, making broth from onion ends and wilted celery, or making croutons or bread pudding out of stale bread. Whatever you have on hand, you’ll likely be able to find a use for it. Check out our recipes page along with Save the Food’s recipe pages for inspiration.
3. Store Food Like a Champ
What really is the best way to store celery? What about bananas? What produce needs to be moved to the fridge after ripening? Proper food storage can increase the lifetime of the food you buy as well as reduce the likelihood of it spoiling without you noticing (remember that sad berry container in the back of your fridge?). Save the Food’s storage guide offers tips and tricks to maximize food freshness and the longevity of your produce.
4. Your Freezer is Your Friend
Many of us are unaware of just how useful our freezers can be. Your freezer can essentially act as a “pause button” for foods that you know you won’t use in time. Produce, meat, dairy, even lightly beaten eggs can all be thrown in the freezer for later use. Use this guide to learn how to freeze items in the most efficient way for your lifestyle.
5. Bring Food Back to Life
You can often revive or creatively use food that is starting to spoil. We’ve all let bananas go brown, greens wilt, and milk go sour. However, these items don’t necessarily need to be thrown away. Check out this page on the different ways you can revive common food items that have past their prime.
6. Learn What Expiration Dates Really Mean
Did you know that most food expiration dates don’t actually relate to food safety? They are not federally regulated, and the various categories of date labels (“sell by”, “use by”, “best before”) can be difficult to decipher. In many cases, the expiration date is really referring to a product’s peak “quality” not when it becomes inedible. Use this guide as a tool to navigate expiration dates and feel more confident about using your own determination system–such as a sniff or taste– for food freshness.
7. Compost Remaining Scraps
Have you implemented all the above strategies and are still ending up with food waste? We understand! Some items, like eggshells, brown banana peels, or vegetable stock scraps are just… inedible. If you have a backyard, patio, or balcony, consider setting up a home composting bin. For those who do not have space, joining a community garden or checking with your local government or waste hauler about compost drop-off/collection may be good alternatives.
As you can see, there’s no one right way to reduce food waste in your household. After all, it’s your household, and each household has different routines, food preferences, eating schedules, etc. Maybe some of the above suggestions don’t fit in easily with your household’s routine, and that’s okay. But making small incremental changes to your shopping and cooking routines can lead to big reductions in the amount of food waste your household generates, saving you money and saving our planet’s resources.
Do you have a favorite food waste tip? Or are you trying one of these hacks out for the first time? Let us know in the comments below or follow along with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook at @wncfoodwaste for a chance to be featured!
Written by: Cassie Lohmeyer