Did you know we waste about 40% of our food each year? That’s around 150 billion pounds of food waste per year. If that doesn’t make you want to start changing the way we live, I don’t know what will. After seeing those statistics, I definitely want to do as much as I can to stop contributing to the amount wasted.
Now your brain is probably going crazy trying to figure out what you should be doing. It is important to keep it simple and not overwhelm yourself. 150 billion pounds of food waste is a large number but just know what you do each day really does matter.
The best way to begin is simply by purchasing food you know you will eat. Only buy the amount you will be able to use and won’t go to waste. Don’t buy a bunch of carrots when you know you’ll only eat 2. Also, don’t buy foods that you don’t enjoy eating. For example, don’t buy a radish if you can’t stand the taste but you read in a magazine that all the celebrities are eating them. You will more than likely end up letting it sit and rot in the fridge.
The next way to reduce your contribution to the annual food waste is to store your food correctly to prevent waste. The way you store your food really does matter. Just changing your storage method for strawberries can make them last twice as long. This allows you more time to enjoy the food and therefore creates zero waste. Let’s dive into the best food storage practives to reduce your waste at home!
When purchasing carrots don’t get the baby carrots in a bag instead get the full ones with the leaves and no plastic packaging. These carrots will have more nutrients and won’t be contributing to the annual food waste. Those baby carrots in the plastic bag are actually made out of full carrots but in the worst possible way. In a factory, the full carrots are cut down to the center and shaped into the perfect carrot sticks. The rest gets thrown in the trash. How wasteful!
When you get home with your whole carrots grab a large jar and fill it with clean water. Be sure to submerge the carrots so nothing is out of water. This helps keep them fresh and unwrinkled so they last longer. With this simple trick, you will be preventing food waste in many ways!
Greens in a Water Jar
You may have seen this trick on Instagram or Facebook where you stick greens such as herbs or broccoli in a jar of water. Many do this to have a pretty, organized fridge but it also reduces waste!
When you get home from the store, grab a small jar and fill it up halfway with water. Next, take out a bundle of greens and place the stems in the jar. Now you can place this in the fridge. Your greens will last twice to three times as long this way! Do this with each type of greens you have. Anything with stems can be stored this way.
Towel Wrap Leafy Greens
When you get home from the grocery store with any leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), don’t just throw them in the fridge. Instead, grab a towel and get it damp not soaking wet. Then place your bunch of greens inside. Do an individual towel for each type of green. The more spread out the greens are, the better. This helps keep them from wilting quickly and allows you to eat them up instead of throwing them in the trash after a few days.
Countertop Fruit Bowl
Simply putting any bowl on the counter to store your fruit will reduce waste. You’re probably wondering why and it’s because you will see it constantly and be more likely to eat everything. When you’re hungry, you can grab an apple that is already sitting out. Instead of rummaging through the fridge or pantry, this takes no effort.
Did you know nuts last longer if you store them in the freezer? That’s right, you can save waste by freezing nuts. Simply place them in a silicon reusable bag and store them in your freezer.
Half Cut Food on a Plate
When you cut a lemon in half but only need one side place it cut side down on a plate. This will keep the lemon from going bad and helps it last longer. You can do this with apples, onions, and more.
Root Veggie Basket
In your pantry, keep a small basket to store potatoes and onions. This keeps them fresh and lasting longer. Be sure to store the potatoes on one side of the basket and the onions on the other. Don’t mix them.
Freezer Food Scraps Bag
When you do have food scraps like potato peels, avocado seeds, etc. be sure to store them in a reusable bag in your freezer to keep them from molding. This will allow you to fill the bag up and take it to your local composting area just once instead of driving there more.
Leftovers In Glass or Stainless Steel Storage Containers
When you have leftovers from meals or leftover ingredients store them in glass or stainless steel containers. These containers will not only keep your leftovers fresh longer but will also keep your food away from plastic. If you store something acidic in a plastic container it can end up eating through the plastic which can get in your food. No one wants that!
You can do small things in your kitchen that add up and truly make a difference. Just think of how much food waste you would save if you did these simple storage practices each time you got groceries. Tackling food waste can seem difficult but you just have to break it down into small actionable steps.
Molly LaFontaine (Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Co-Owner of Tyler + Molly)