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How You Can Reduce Food Waste at Home

We all love a good meal, right? But sometimes we buy more food than we can eat or forget about leftovers in the fridge. This often leads to food waste, which is a bigger problem than many people realize. In Canada, over half of all food produced and distributed never gets eaten, costing up to $49 billion each year. The good news is that food waste is avoidable.

Cutting down on food waste at home isn’t just about saving money; it’s also about being kinder to our planet. Any step you take to cut down on waste can make a big difference. So, let’s explore some easy and fun ways to reduce food waste in your home.

Plan Your Meals

One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to plan your meals. When you plan what you’re going to eat for the week, you can make a shopping list of just what you need. This way, you won’t buy too much food that might go bad before you get a chance to eat it.

Here’s how you can start planning your meals:

  1. Look in Your Pantry and Fridge: Check what you already have. Use these ingredients as the base for your meal plan.
  2. Create a Weekly Menu: Write down what you plan to cook for each meal. Don’t forget to plan for leftovers!
  3. Make a Shopping List: Write down the ingredients you need to buy. Stick to this list when you’re at the store.

eliminate food waste

Store Food Properly

Storing food the right way can make a huge difference in how long it lasts. Different foods need different types of storage to stay fresh.

Tips for storing food:

  • Fruits and Veggies: Some fruits and veggies need to be stored in the fridge, while others do better on the counter. For example, bananas, tomatoes, and avocados are best kept at room temperature, while berries and leafy greens should be in the fridge.
  • Bread: Keep bread at room temperature if you’ll eat it within a few days. Otherwise, freeze it to keep it fresh.
  • Leftovers: Store leftovers in clear, airtight containers so you can see what’s inside and it stays fresh longer.

Use Leftovers Creatively

Leftovers don’t have to be boring! Get creative and turn them into something new and delicious. This not only helps reduce food waste but also makes your meals more exciting.

Here are some fun ideas:

  • Soup: Toss leftover veggies, rice, or meat into a pot with some broth and spices for a quick and tasty soup.
  • Stir-fry: Use leftover meat and veggies in a stir-fry. Just add some sauce and serve over rice or noodles.
  • Smoothies: Blend up leftover fruits with some yogurt or milk for a healthy and refreshing smoothie.

Understand Expiration Dates

Expiration dates can be confusing. Many people throw away food just because it’s past the date on the package, but that doesn’t always mean it’s bad.

Here’s what those dates really mean:

  • “Best By” or “Best Before”: This date tells you when the food will be at its best quality. It’s not a safety date.
  • “Sell By”: This date is for the store. It tells them how long to display the product for sale. It’s not about safety.
  • “Use By”: This is the date when the food should be eaten for the best quality. It’s also not a safety date, except for baby formula.

Reduce food waste

Freeze for Later

Freezing is a great way to save food that you can’t eat right away. You can freeze fruits, vegetables, meats, and even some dairy products.

Tips for freezing food:

  • Blanch Veggies: Before freezing vegetables, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes. This helps preserve their color and flavor.
  • Label Everything: Write the date and what’s in the container on a label. This way, you know how long it’s been in the freezer.
  • Portion Control: Freeze food in portion-sized containers. This makes it easy to thaw just what you need.

Compost Food Scraps

Even with the best efforts, some food waste is inevitable. Composting is a great way to turn food scraps into something useful for your garden.

How to start composting:

  1. Get a Compost Bin: You can buy one or make your own.
  2. Collect Food Scraps: Collect fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and other compostable materials in a container.
  3. Add to the Bin: Add your food scraps to the compost bin, along with yard waste like leaves and grass clippings.
  4. Turn the Compost: Mix the compost regularly to help it break down faster.

Get Creative with Recipes

Sometimes, we don’t use ingredients because we’re not sure how to cook with them. Get creative and try new recipes to use up what you have.

Here are some ideas:

  • Fruit Salad: Mix different fruits together for a refreshing salad.
  • Vegetable Frittata: Use leftover veggies in a frittata. Just add eggs and cheese, and bake.
  • Bread Pudding: Use stale bread to make a delicious dessert. Just add milk, eggs, sugar, and spices, and bake.

Share with Others

If you have more food than you can use, consider sharing it with friends, family, or neighbors. They might appreciate the extra food, and it’s a great way to build community.

How to share food:

  • Host a Potluck: Invite friends over for a meal and ask everyone to bring a dish. Share your extras with them.
  • Donate to Food Banks: Many food banks accept fresh produce and other perishable items. Check with your local food bank to see what they need.
  • Swap with Neighbors: Organize a food swap with your neighbors. Trade your extra veggies for something you need.

Educate Your Family

Reducing food waste is a team effort. Teach your family about the importance of not wasting food and involve them in the process.

Ways to educate your family:

  • Get Kids Involved: Let kids help with meal planning, shopping, and cooking. Teach them about the value of food and how to reduce waste.
  • Lead by Example: Show your family how to store food properly, use leftovers creatively, and compost.
  • Talk About It: Have conversations about why it’s important to reduce food waste. Share facts and tips to keep everyone informed.

Reducing food waste at home doesn’t have to be hard. With a little planning, creativity, and mindfulness, you can make a big difference. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be helping the environment. So, start today! Plan your meals, store your food properly, get creative with leftovers, and educate your family. Every small step counts towards a less wasteful and more sustainable lifestyle.

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Or read these previous blog posts for your own inspiration:

9 Favorite Food Gives You Can Share With Co-Workers

Empower Students to Raise Awareness of Food Loss and Waste at Your School

Roan

Hi there! My name is Roan. I'm an avid learner and passionate about a variety of different activities, from quality engineering, to design, to technology, photography, and beyond. I always look for new ways to use my creativity and skills to make a positive impact on the world. When I'm not working or volunteering, I enjoy writing in my journal, creating designs, learning a new language, or doing DIY projects.

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