Did you know that Americans waste around 150,000 tons of food per year? It’s a sobering statistic! Learn how to reduce food waste in your kitchen with these tips.
When you throw away those last bits of salad or that banana that went from not ripe enough to too ripe, you don’t really think too much about food waste. The total impact of our food waste is huge. It averages out to one pound, per person, per day.
Not all food waste is happening in your kitchen. Food goes bad sitting on grocery store shelves. Produce gets dropped and bruised. Ice cream gets put in a cart, then put back on a room temperature shelf just before it gets to the checkout.
I once saw an apple display with a dozen or so apples that each had a single bite taken out of them. I’m certain the entire display was thrown out.
The common belief is that grocery stores donate much of the ugly, bruised, misshapen, damaged, and almost expired food that falls into the broad category of “unsellable.”
The truth of the matter is, in most states, there are no rules that govern how food can safely be donated by retail sellers. Many grocers don’t donate as much food as they could because they are worried about the liability.
If each of us decreased our own food waste footprint, then the overall food waste numbers would drop. I’ve put together some suggestions for reducing the food waste in your own kitchen.
Ways to Reduce Food Waste in your Kitchen
Plan Your Meals
If you use meal planning, then you’re far more likely to only buy foods that you’re going to use. How many times have you gone to the store and bought avocados because they sounded good or were on sale, only to find them on your countertop a week later, shriveled?
However, if you planned a delicious taco salad dinner, then you would have a definite time to use those avocados, and there would be less of a chance that they would do unused.
Do meal prep to reduce food waste
When you come home from a long Monday at the office, spending twenty minutes cutting up vegetables is not on the top of your list of stuff you want to do. I completely understand that. For fruits and veggies that aren’t going to lose freshness, do the chopping over the weekend, and then store them until you need them. A vacuum-seal container, such as this one from Amazon, will help you seal your veggies in airtight packages, reducing spoilage and making it easy for you to pre-measure your foods.
Start a Compost Pile
A compost pile is a great way to turn your kitchen scraps into treasure. All of your fruits, vegetables, eggshells, and coffee grounds can be turned into compost.
You can buy a small compost bin and add your new compost to your flower garden, or give it to a friend in exchange for some garden-fresh vegetables. This model is made from recycled plastic, so it further reduces your carbon footprint.
Have an Honest Discussion with Your Family
This is the hard part. My kids would always ask me to buy oranges, but I found myself throwing oranges away every week. It turns out that oranges only sounded good in that exact moment when we were at the grocery store.
When I had fourteen frozen loaves of banana bread in the freezer, it was time to stop buying bananas. And it wasn’t only the kids. I would buy lemons for my tea, and then forget that I bought lemons for my tea.
Today, I buy frozen fruits and vegetables, and fresh fruits on a very limited basis. We throw away much less, and the kids still have fruit for smoothies and I can still make quick breads or cobblers when we’re in the mood for them.
I have a bottle of lemon juice in my fridge. It isn’t quite as good as a fresh lemon in my tea, but there are no more moldy, half-collapsed lemons in my crisper drawers.
Reducing food waste takes a commitment, but it can be done. You need to plan ahead and commit to spend some time in order to make things easier on yourself when you’re busy.
More Tips for the Kitchen
- Meal Planning Tips to Simplify Your Life
- Organize Your Refrigerator with These 7 Tips
- 5 Practical Tips for Organizing Your Kitchen
Keisha K. Page is a freelance writer, mother of five, and a grandma. She’s trying to embrace the chaos of working full time, chasing a giant dog, living in the mountains of Colorado, and supporting her two youngest children through chronic illness.