The importance of food wastage is serious sh*t. Did you know that, globally, 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted per year? A new report from the National Resources Defence Council shows that an alarming 40% of food in America - more than 20 pounds per person each month - is thrown away. So, it's consumers (yes, us!) who cause half of this food wastage disaster! The average household throws out 20% of their groceries. That's one shopping bag in every 5 (*shock horror*). To me, throwing out food is like tossing dollar bills into the toilet. Whenever I have to do it (which is slim to never cause I'm a bit of a food waste nazi), it literally pains me. Surely I'm not the only one?
So how can we reduce your food waste at home? Here are five ways:
Meal planning is crucial! If you know what you're going to make this week, you won't get distracted by the sale on bok choy if it's not on the list. Everything you buy should have a purpose.
If you can't eat it, freeze it
Most foods can be frozen. You can par-cook veggies and freeze them so they're ready to throw into, pretty much, anything. If we have extra veggies laying around, we chop them up and store them in vacuum sealed freezer bags. We can then pull them out of the freezer and saute them up for egg scrambles, tacos, stir fry, etc.
Cook, juice it or blend it
Stay on top of your inventory by using it creatively when it's on its last legs. Juice it, throw it into a smoothie, make a sauce with it, or cook up what I call a 'refrigerator soup.'
Make a stock
I save broccoli, cauliflower, and shiitake mushroom stems, as well as shrimp shells and chicken or beef bones to use in making delicious and flavorful stocks. Use the veggie off-cuts to make veggie stock, the shrimp shells for dashi or a delicious base for a seafood chowder, and the animal bones for superfood bone broth. Besides, food scraps are trendy....check it out: Dan Barber, the man behind the Michelin Star Restaurant Blue Hill in Manhattan, serves scraps in his pop-up restaurant“wastED” .
Read past expiration dates
Just because the date says "Best by November 1" doesn't mean you need to chuck it out on that day. Use-by dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates. According to the USDA, "Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly." That said, use common sense, as well as your eyes and nose, to determine if it's really ready to go into the bin. Obviously, if it stinks or has mold growing on it, pitch it.
I will leave you with this: