Food waste is a significant problem in the U.S., with nearly one-third of all food grown for human consumption winding up in the bin. With world hunger a raging crisis, throwing away food seem unethical and immoral. Therefore, instead of taking food for granted, it is best to organize your kitchen and reduce waste by maximizing use.
1. Create a Menu
The most effective way to save food and money is to create a menu for the week's meals. Too many people go to the grocery store without a plan for the upcoming week, resulting in stocking up on more than is necessary and often food that is less healthy. By managing your essentials and planning for future meals, you can significantly slash the weekly grocery bill and reduce your food waste.
2. Date Your Food
Most people pile food into their refrigerators and freezers with no rhyme or reason. Because of the randomness of putting things away, it is easy to lose track of older food items or those approaching their expiration date. To avoid this problem, you can start using a label system for your food, dating every item to ensure you use things before they go to waste.
3. Organize Your Food
Aside from labeling and dating your food, think about establishing an inventory system. While it might sound like overkill, inventory systems are used by businesses to ensure efficiency. One popular inventory method is FIFO or first in, first out; essentially, this means the oldest foods should be at the front of cupboards and shelves, ensuring they are used before anything else.
4. Re-Purpose Leftovers
Leftovers are an excellent idea, but too often, they get tossed at the end of the week. Instead of throwing away your leftovers, consider re-purposing them. For example, if you had ground beef one night, consider using the leftover beef to make tacos. Or, if you had grilled or fried chicken, consider pulling it apart and making a pulled-chicken BBQ sandwich.
5. Keep Fruit Out
While many people will put fruit in the fridge to let it ripen, take it out after that happens. When you tuck fruit into a refrigerator, it is less likely to be eaten. Fruit on a counter is visible and more likely to draw someone's attention, encouraging snacking.
6. Store Perishables Correctly
Did you know that fruits and vegetables produce off-gases as they ripen? These gases can accelerate the ripening process or other produce. If you want to prevent rapid ripening or spoiling, consider storing your produce in separate locations or containers. Additionally, you can freeze perishables to preserve them for longer. Finally, if the fruit is approaching the end of its life, you can make jam or preserves.
7. Plan a Leftover Night
While re-purposing leftovers is an excellent way to avoid food waste, you can also just eat the leftovers. Since many families will end up making more than they need every meal, you can have a leftover night once per week, allowing each family member to have whatever they want.
Food waste is a massive problem, but making several minor changes to kitchen behaviors can significantly reduce waste in an individual home. Do you have any other tips to avoid food waste?