We can all take small actions in our daily lives to help make a big impact on the Earth. Being environmentally friendly with your laundry and daily commute are amazing feats that you can accomplish. However, everyone can still improve in their food use, and it’s not for the reason you think.
Dairy farmers help reduce food waste by adding food scraps to their cows’ diets. These scraps are typically byproducts of other industries, finding a use for scraps that would otherwise find their way into landfills. Parts of food that people cannot digest like orange pulps may be added to feed for cows, but imagine how much unnecessary waste is still produced by the average consumer.
From unwanted leftovers to expired foods, food waste is a predominant problem amongst consumers, with nearly one-third of the country’s food thrown out. (According to the USDA, food waste in the U.S. is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply, or approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food.) While retailers perfect their storage and ordering practices, the consumer-end can improve their eating habits, too. Here are 3 easy ways you can lower your food waste for sustainable eating.
When a recipe has a high serving amount, it’s easy to say you’ll finish the leftovers in multiple meals, but that’s not always true. Casseroles are an easy way to fill out the week’s meals, but without variety, you’ll be regretting your choice. You get tired of eating the same thing and, hey, delivery fees are conveniently low. Suddenly, those leftovers have been sitting in the back of the fridge for two weeks. Oops.
Be realistic with how much you will eat and adjust the recipe accordingly. If it’s still too much, dedicate a day to leftovers. The hodgepodge meal will let you enjoy small amounts of your favorite meals before you burn out on the taste. Squash casserole and pepperoni pizza, anyone?
Plan your meals
A kitchen filled with whatever you may want is an unrealistic goal from childhood. Who doesn’t want to walk into the kitchen and find that midnight craving of cookies? Or make that pie you only want when a certain movie is on tv. While you may want a fully stocked kitchen to make whatever craving you have, it’s not the best method for keeping your food fresh. Think of how long food sits untouched before you hurry to eat it to prevent it from going bad. Or, even worse, discovering it is too far gone to be saved, resulting in more going out on trash day. It’s not that great of a convenience then. Instead, take inventory of what ingredients you already own and plan in advance what meals you will make in the following days. Once you head to the grocery store for the remaining items, stick to the list. (That’s easier when you take the list with you!)
Cook, don’t throw away
Be aware of your food. Sometimes plans change, but that doesn’t mean your wallet should suffer as unused food spoils. Freeze anything perishable that you won’t be eating soon. If something seems to be close to going bad, it’s time to use it, not throw it away. Cut and cook vegetables to add to your planned meal. Mix milk into drinks or add it to foods for a creamy texture. Make smoothies or store fruit in the freezer to extend its life longer. If it’s an ingredient you don’t often cook with, Google is always there to list possible meals, or we have plenty of tasty recipes to use for guidance. Instead of thinking of your older food as an inconvenience, let it spark your creativity. Your taste buds will thank you.
With dairy farmers working to do their part for the environment in their full-time job, remember to do what you can, too. It’s time to practice reducing your food waste and eating more sustainably (while also saving a little money). There are plenty of other methods. Change your storage, learn to can, swap out ingredients, whatever works for you! What is your trick to reducing food waste?