5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

On average, an American household wastes around 31.9% of the food it obtains.

This staggering number is only made worse when we consider that approximately 690 million people in the world are undernourished. And yet, this problem has remained unsolvable for years, and there’s still no answer in sight.

While no single person can end world hunger or put an end to food waste, we all can take small steps towards these goals.

For instance, we can start by reducing the amount of food we throw away in our own homes. If you’re unsure how to do that, we’re here to help with the following five tips.

1. Plan Your Shopping and Meals in Advance

Lack of planning when shopping and cooking is perhaps the main reason homes produce as much food waste as they do.

After all, when we don’t take the time to actually consider our needs, we’re more inclined to buy more than necessary. Then, a lot of that food ends up forgotten in the fridge, eventually spoiling, until we throw it away.

So, the solution is rather simple — plan your shopping and meals ahead. Before you go to the grocery store, take a look at your fridge and start making a shopping list.

Make sure to write down everything you need but not more than that. If you want to go a step further, consider what meals you’d like to prepare in the following week. That way, your shopping will be even more focused.

Once in the grocery store, stick to your shopping list. Purchasing items that aren’t on it defeats the purpose of making a list in the first place. 

And remember — you might struggle with this method at first. It takes time to get used to it, but once you do, you’ll notice how little food you waste compared to before!

2. Understand What ‘Best Before’ Means

Many people have trouble understanding exactly what the best before date refers to.

They frequently think that the food past this date is no longer edible and thus throw it away immediately. That’s not a good idea, though — they may be wasting perfectly good food.

So, what exactly does the best before date mean? Well, it depends on the kind of food we’re talking about.

Perishable foods such as dairy, meat, or ready-made meals are always safer to eat before this date. And generally speaking, it’s better to use up these items as soon as possible.

But when it comes to foods like pasta, chocolate, or beans, the best before date is a bit more flexible.

Those items may not be as tasty as before, and their quality may be lower, but they should still be edible. Trust your senses when checking — if something seems off, don’t eat it.

3. Don’t Throw Away Leftovers

Have you recently cooked a large meal that you couldn’t finish? Don’t throw away leftovers!

Store them in the fridge instead and eat them over the next few days. That way, you won’t have to figure out what to eat next and spend time preparing food.

And if you don’t have enough leftovers for a full meal, there’s still a solution.

Put together a few different meals or add some salad to the mix. Soon enough, you’ll have a delicious lunch that you didn’t even have to cook, thus saving both food and your time.

Don’t discard leftovers even if you don’t expect to eat them up in the few days after cooking the meal.

Keeping them in the fridge might lead to spoiling, but the freezer is a different matter altogether.

They can stay there for up to three months and still retain their freshness and taste. But make sure to check what food is safe to freeze and what isn’t before choosing this option.

4. Share Food With Others

If you have food that you don’t expect to eat and don’t want to freeze, sharing might be a good idea.

Invite your friends and relatives over for a nice meal — it’s a great bonding opportunity as well. Take some over to your neighbors who have just moved in recently. Possibilities are endless!

Also, ask around and find out if there’s any food bank in your vicinity. If it accepts donations, you could take your leftovers there.

That way, you’ll significantly cut down on food waste and help people in need at the same time. There’s hardly a better solution.

5. Store Your Food Properly

If you place your food in the fridge haphazardly, you’re unlikely to remember what’s fresh and what isn’t.

Because of that, you might completely forget about leftovers that you should’ve eaten first, leaving them to spoil. That’s why it’s crucial to develop a food storing method that you can stick to.

For example, you can dedicate one of the shelves to leftovers and food that needs to be consumed first.

If you have raw meat or anything else that might drip, put it on the lowest shelf to avoid juices mixing up with other foods.

And finally, fruit and vegetables should have a separate drawer, as they release gasses that speed up spoiling as they ripen.

In Conclusion

Reducing food waste in your home may take some planning and effort, but ultimately, it’s not too difficult.

All of the tips we’ve given you are simple enough that anyone can incorporate them into their day-to-day life.

And if you want to go a step further, it’s easy to find more information on saving food out there. You could even think of solutions on your own!

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