Tuesday, November 25, 2014

7 No-Brainer Ways to Stop Wasting Food

And stop wasting money at the supermarket, too.
A scary fact: Estimates show we throw away a third of the food we buy each week. A THIRD. Want to cut down on your waste? Adopt these easy steps. 
1. Write a list!
Plan your meals for a week. Check the ingredients in your fridge and cupboards, then write a shopping list for just the extras you need. While in the store, don't be tempted by offers and definitely don't shop when you're hungry — or you'll come back with more than you need or want. Buy loose fruits and vegetables instead of pre-packed, then you can buy exactly the amount you need. You can also buy meats and cheese from a deli to help you control your portions.
2. Maintain your fridge.
Check that the seals on your fridge are good and check the fridge temperature, too. Perishable food should be stored at 37 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum freshness and longevity (keep your freezer at 0 degrees or just a little lower).
3. Use up everything.
Make any fruit that is just going soft into smoothies or fruit pies rather than toss them. Vegetables that are starting to wilt are perfect for making soup. And instead of scrapping leftovers, use them as ingredients in a new dish tomorrow. A bit of tuna can go into a pasta bake. A tablespoon of cooked vegetables are a good base for a slow-cooker meal.
4. Rotate items on your shelves.
When you buy new food from the store, bring all the older items in your cupboards and fridge to the front. By putting the old stuff in sight, you run less risk of finding something moldy in the back.
5. Serve smaller portions at mealtime.
This is especially helpful for children, who rarely estimate how much they can eat at once. If anyone's still hungry, they can go for seconds. Then, just cool and store leftovers for another day (but again, don't hide them in the back of the fridge where you won't see them!).
6. Freeze food you're not using right away. 
If you only eat a small amount of bread, freeze the loaf when you get home from the store and take out a few slices a couple of hours before you need them. Likewise, prepare and freeze food the weekends, so that you have meals ready for those evenings when you are too tired to cook.
7. Compost your leftovers.
Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings? In a few months you will end up with rich, valuable fertilizer for your plants. For cooked food waste, try a kitchen composter (bokashi bin). Just feed it your scraps (you can even put in fish and meat), sprinkle over a layer of special microbes and leave to ferment. You can also use its resulting product on houseplants and in the garden.
Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty