Each year, nearly 40 percent of food produced in the U.S. is never consumed, and a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food. This wasted food causes severe damage to the world around us by wasting water, oil and land, as well as releasing methane gas in landfills, which harms the air and the biodiversity of living creatures.
Small changes in our daily routine can help reduce the amount of waste in the world and, consequentially, the harmfully effects it has on the environment. Here are five easy ways for you to reduce food waste in your home this season – and throughout the year.
1. Plan meals before you shop
Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Be sure to look in the fridge before leaving to note what you have and what you need, then make a list with quantities included. Prepare and cook perishable foods first, then freeze them to eat throughout the month. Additionally, learn the difference between the sell-by, best by, use-by and expiration dates.
2. Improve storage techniques
Freeze surplus fruits and veggies and store different produce in different places to prevent certain items from causing others to spoil faster. Also, freeze bread, sliced fruit or meat that you won’t be eating for a while. If you plan on having a holiday party, tell your guests to bring Tupperware with them so they are ready and able to take leftovers home.
3. Make meals out of leftovers
Turn produce that’s past its prime into soups, casseroles, sauces, baked goods, pancakes or smoothies. During the holidays, you can make healthy and delicious meals out of your leftover turkey, potatoes, greens beans and cranberry sauce. Look into making a warm turkey chili or a green bean salad. Mashed sweet potatoes can be used as a sweet spread on a savory sandwich, while cranberry sauce can be a pancake topper for breakfast.
4. Compost your food scraps.
Leftover veggies, fruits, bread, cookies, crackers, noodles, grains, coffee grounds, tea bags, old spices, eggshells and corncobs can all be composted. These scraps can be kept in a bucket in your backyard, lined with newspaper to keep flies and odors to a minimum. Be sure to check with your municipal waste management district to see if you are allowed to compost food; some cities do not allow it.
5. Donate to or volunteer with Second Helpings Atlanta.
By donating $10, SHA can rescue and deliver 78 healthy meals, and just 90 minutes of your time is all it takes to complete a food rescue and delivery route. Donating or giving some of your time to SHA helps prevent others from going hungry while using food that would have otherwise been wasted.
Learn more about fighting hunger and reducing food waste at https://www.secondhelpingsatlanta.org/.