According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), roughly 1.3 billion tons of food gets lost or wasted each year – that’s equivalent to one-third of the food produced worldwide for human consumption.
Every food wasted in households, etc. end up either in combustion facilities or landfills. Once thrown there, these food wastes break down and produce methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the worsening climate change.
With that, here are five practical tips you can follow to eliminate food wastes in your household:
Always plan your meals.
By planning your grocery shopping schedule and list, you can save a lot of time, money, and resources. With a meal plan, you can avoid buying things you don’t actually need. More than that, you’ll have an overview of which meals to serve for the whole week – less pressure and hassle!
Along with meals and dishes you wish to prepare for the whole week, include the quantities of the ingredients you need. After that, list down the total quantities of these food items. Through planning, you won’t ever have to come back to the grocery store because you forgot something.
Use perishable food items first.
Be reminded that not all food items have the same length of shelf life. So, when you cook your meals, make use of the perishable items first such as fruits, greens, vegetables, meat, dairy, and other raw food items, etc. If not, make sure to keep these perishable items frozen or refrigerated.
However, when food is cooked, they are already considered as perishable. If you can’t consume them immediately, these perishable food items must be kept frozen or refrigerated to extend their shelf life and keep them at good quality for a longer time. Use correct storage containers as well.
Store food the right way.
To make sure your food supply stays fresh for a longer time, find out how different vegetables, fruits, etc. stay fresh whether in or out of the refrigerator. See below information as your guide:
• Bananas – must only be refrigerated after they ripen.
• Apples – can be refrigerated up to 6 weeks.
• Avocado – must be stored on the kitchen counter until it ripens, then refrigerate.
• Citrus – can last up to 3 to 8 weeks when refrigerated, and only 4 to 5 days when placed on the counter.
• Grapes – should be refrigerated while inside a paper or any breathable bag.
• Some of the vegetables you can refrigerate include parsnips, artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, celery, greens, and cucumber. All these can also be stored in the freezer except for the cucumber and greens.
• On the contrary, vegetables that you shouldn’t and don’t need to refrigerate include garlic, shallots, eggplant, basil, onions, potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
But, don’t forget that the best way to store your food items depends on how quickly you plan to cook or consume them. Another tip: buy only what you need, and your food will always be fresh.
Look at food product dates.
Different food products have product dates, a series of letters or numbers, on their labels to show an estimated period of when they will be at their best quality. Food product dating also helps store owners to determine how long they should display their food products on their store shelves.
There are three most common product dates you’ll find in different food products; these include:
• “Best if Used Before” – is not a safety nor purchase date. It only indicates when a product is at its best quality.
• “Sell-By” – is not a safety date, but an indication that tells the shop how long the product must be displayed for easier inventory management.
• “Use-By” – is not a safety date either, but a recommended date for the use of the product while it’s at its best quality.
For a more comprehensive and detailed information about food product dating, check out United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)’s website here.
Take only what you can eat.
Wherever you are – whether you’re at home or dining out – take only what you can eat. When you’re at a restaurant, order only what you can consume. In the case of leftovers, don’t hesitate to take them home. You can eat the leftovers on your way home or re-heat it for your next meal.
If you have little kids around, teach them the virtue of a clean plate early on. Start teaching your kids to conserve food as early as you can. Make them see the effort and value of food preparation, and they’ll be less picky with their meals. For other tips on wasting less food with kids, click here.
Practice and teach your whole household the virtue of a clean plate. Don’t add up to the wasted food dumped in the landfills. Not only will your wallet thank you for that, but you’ll also put a smile on Mother Earth’s face as well!