The average American throws away around 25% of his purchased food and beverages. For a family of four, this percentage of waste can amount anywhere from $1,365-$2,275 every year. With food expenses ranking as the third biggest expense for American households, it is important to practice food conservation, especially when there are countries around the world struggling to feed their people. Below are five things that you can do to reduce the amount of food waste in your life.
1. Plan meals on a weekly basis
While it may not be the easiest thing to do every week, it is important to have some kind of organization for your weekly meals. This way when you go to the grocery store you know exactly what to buy and you end up wasting less throughout the week because you know what every food item is going to be used for.
2. Pick the produce that may not be the prettiest
In some places such as Kenya, strict guidelines are being enforced regarding the aesthetic appearance of produce. Because we are bombarded with images of the perfect apple, tomato, or other forms of produce we naturally seek lookalikes while shopping. The demand for “pretty” produce is causing vegetable exporters in Kenya to dispose of 40% of their produce. Buy the misshapen potato, it may not look like the rest, but it will taste just fine.
3. Rotate the items in your pantry
When you come home with a new load of groceries don’t just stick it in front of what’s already in the fridge or pantry. Rotate the old food to the front so you have a better chance of using it before it gets old.
4. Use small serving sizes
It is easy to look at a big meal and let our eyes decide how much to serve rather than our stomachs. Start with small servings, if people are still hungry they can always get seconds. Oftentimes we eat a lot less than we expect when we’re hungry. With smaller portions you can wrap up the leftovers and store them in the fridge for next time.
5. Let your senses do the deciding, not the label
Expiration dates on food are a huge reason why Americans throw away so much food. We abide by the date, assuming that the food or beverage instantly goes bad the minute it turns the date labeled on the box. In many cases, the food or beverage is still edible well after the expiration date, just use your senses to make sure. We could eliminate up to 20% of food waste if there was a clearer labeling system in place for expiration dates.
– Chante Owens