10 Simple Ways to Stop Food Waste Today
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 25, Nov 2013
A biblical principle says one should cast their bread upon the waters, for they shall find it after many days. And today’s society seems to be taking these words very literally, since 40 million tons of food are wasted annually only within the United States households!
On average, an American wastes 110 kg of food per year, an European wastes around 90 kg of food yearly, while a southwest Asian or a sub-Saharan African throws away under 20 kg of food per year. Why should I care about these numbers, you might ask? These numbers you see in statistics and infographs on food waste say more about us than our resumes, involvement in charity events and claimed interest in the needies.
Maybe it’s not your case, but at global level, 14% of all food bought annually is thrown away without even being unpacked. And as funny as it sounds, it’s pretty much the same with spending $100 on an exquisite meal and throwing another $14 at the garbage once you get out of the restaurant, just because there’s enough extra money in your pocket. You don’t see that happening too often, right?
Yet, UK residents waste $455 worth of food each year. Take a look at the picture below to get a better idea of what this waste actually means!
And this is not all. According to statistics, the food wasted by Europe and US could feed the world’s population three times. In the United States, 40% of all the food produced yearly goes uneaten and the percentage is quite similar within the UK, where 32% of all the produced food is thrown away untouched.
Globally, 1.3 billion tons of food get wasted every year and 14% of all food bought annually gets tossed. These numbers are not just impressive but worrying as well, as around the globe there are people who don’t have access to safe sources of food or suffer from malnutrition.
Theoretically, recycling the food thrown by food services and retailers would be enough to feed the hungry, but shipping the uneaten food to other countries doesn’t really sound like a viable solution. So if you really want to take action you need to find a smarter and less costly strategy for stopping the waste, one that’s suitable for your household. Given below are 10 easy to implement strategies that can help you support the food waste revolution.
10 ways to reuse what you’re not eating and stop food waste
Food waste is a global issue worth addressing, so if you didn’t really consider this to be a problem you can help solving, it’s time to reconsider. And here’s what you can do!
1. Prepare smaller portions
Controlling portion sizes is usually perceived as a weight management strategy, but it can also limit food waste as overfilling our plates is more likely to lead to food waste than limiting the portion size to the amount of food we actually need and can eat. If you’re eating out, order the smaller portion. If you’re cooking at home, only prepare the amount of food you’re likely to eat. By doing so you give your stomach the chance to digest food better and prevent eatable food from being thrown away.
2. Refrigerate for later
If you prepared too much food or ordered a too large portion, don’t throw it away right after your stomach feels full. Refrigerating food for later can save you money and time, and it can also contribute to stopping the food waste at least in your household. Get some nice containers and store the leftovers for later, they’ll be just as tasty reheated.
3. Recycle the leftovers
Whether we refer to veggies, meat, cheese, bread or fruits, the leftovers stored in the fridge can be reused for preparing dishes like brunch casseroles, quiches, omelets, pizza or salads. So the next time you’re tempted to throw the uneaten cheese to garbage, try to find a way to “recycle” it – there are so many leftover combinations that only take a few minutes to prepare and taste delicious!
4. Share with the needies
If you know someone who’s in need, don’t be ashamed to share the leftovers with them. Sharing is caring indeed, so why not invite someone over you if you prepared too much food?
5. Get creative in the kitchen
Getting creative in the kitchen is another way to limit the food waste, as you’re less likely to throw away the uneaten food if you discover new ways to prepare it. You may not like the over-ripe bananas, but they can make a tasty and healthy smoothie.
6. Doubt the labels
Statistics show lots of the bought foods are thrown away just because the labels say those products are expired. But according to specialists, a huge percent of these products are actually good and safe to consume for days after the expiring date.
$165 billion are wasted annually in the form of expired food and this happens mostly due to the lack of information in this direction. This is why it’s recommended to check the actual state of foods before filling the garbage bin with unopened products. And if you want to be sure you’re not putting your health at risk by eating expired products, here’s some general guidelines as given by WebMD:
- Milk can usually be consumed up to 1 week after the “sell by” date
- Eggs can be consumed for 3-5 weeks after the “sell by” date
- Poultry and seafood can be stored in the freezer if cooked within 1-2 days after being purchased
- Beef and pork can be stored in the freezer if cooked within 3-5 days after being bought
- Canned goods like tomato sauce can be consumed 18 weeks after the “sell by” date
- Low acidic canned goods like green beans can be safely consumed for up to 5 years after the “sell by” date, if stored in proper conditions
7. Eat at home
Eating at home can limit the amount of wasted food as one’s more likely to reuse the leftovers when cooking and having dinner at home than when eating out. Also, it’s easier to control the amount of ingredients that goes into a meal when you prepare the dish than when you order it.
8. Plan ahead
Planning ahead is another efficient strategy for limiting the food waste, as statistics show people who go shopping with a grocery list and plan their weekly meals before going shopping are less likely to buy foods they don’t actually need.
9. Feed a pet
If you’re not the type who shares the leftovers with others, try at least to find a more useful usage for the foods you usually throw away. Your or your neighbor’s pets would surely enjoy the leftovers.
10. Buy less
Last but not the least, think before you buy food and educate yourself to only purchase those products you’re likely to use. What’s the point in buying food for 4 when your family only has 2 members? So do the math and buy less food if you constantly find yourself throwing expired foods from your refrigerator.
These simple but useful strategies can save you enough money in the long run, so even if you won’t be able to prepare a hot meal for all the hungry in poor countries or to feed all the needies in your neighborhood, you can still help by redirecting the money you save to charity organizations. And this is a more efficient strategy for stopping the food waste and feeding the poor ones, than shipping half of your eaten burger to someone in need.
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