How to Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is a big issue right now and it should be on everyone’s mind. This summer I really started to take this seriously. I looked at what I was doing and researched how I could fix my food waste issues – and believe me, I had a lot. I did an informative speech on the topic during my final semester of school, and during my internship I was able to write about ways to make your food last longer and avoid spoilage. When I realized how much previous research I had in the subject, I decided it was time to spread it to the TMG community.
Store Your Produce Properly
This is one of my favourite topics. I did a deep dive in this topic in the summer while I was working at Chatelaine, a Canadian food and lifestyle magazine. I was writing an article about how to properly use your crisper drawers to elongate the lifespan of your produce. Since I’ve written a lot about that already, you can check out the full crisper article here.
For some bonus tips that don’t involve your crisper drawers we recommend wrapping your banana stems in cling film and wrapping your lettuce in a paper towel and storing in an air tight container.
First In, First Out
A fairly straight forward rule; if it entered your fridge first, it should be the first to be eaten.
This sounds simple enough, but it’s one of the most important tips to reduce food waste. Shopping smart is more difficult than you’d think, but once you do it it becomes easier and easier. To ensure you’re not overbuying, planning your meals and making a list is important. This could mean buying less food, but shopping more often – or simply being careful about what you buy.
If you find yourself still wasting food, try buying frozen produce. It’s frozen at peak freshness, tastes great, available at all times, and won’t got bad! A win-win-win-win scenario.
Support “Ugly” Produce
Why would you support ugly produce? How does that reduce food waste? Well a lot of food waste actually happens before your food even gets to to the grocery store. Yes, we waste a lot – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas we can improve. Produce is carefully inspected before it ever gets on a truck to go to a grocery store. They’re looking for bruising and any other blemishes that would deter a shopper from picking it out. I didn’t realize that I picked produce based on appearance until I learned about this, but watch next time you go shopping – you do too. How food tastes, has nothing to do with what it looks like, there I said it. So how can we help reduce this waste when were technically not the ones doing it?
If there is no demand, they won’t supply – it’s simple economics really. Tell your local grocery store that you want them to start supplying “ugly” produce, subscribe to an “ugly” produce delivery box, or go to farmer’s markets! If you live in Canada and have a No Frills near you, they actually sell their Perfectly Imperfect produce in store.
Keep Your Fridge Organized
Your fridge is big, like real big and things can easily get lost in there. Take it from someone who has definitely found mouldy food at the back that was there way longer than it should have been – it gets gross. Keeping a clean and organized fridge helps avoid this really disgusting situation. We suggest cleaning out your fridge every couple of months, and keeping close to expired items front and centre.
Make sure you keep all uneaten food after a meal at home or at a restaurant. It’s good practice to label your leftovers with a date so you know how old they are. If you don’t think you will have time to eat your leftovers, store them in the freezer for longer. Maybe you’re like me and don’t like eating the same food over and over again – this is your opportunity to be a little creative and make something new using your leftovers. We recommend taking inspiration from Lauren of Hot for Food and her Recipe!? series.
Grow Your Own
If you live in a climate where you are able to grow your own produce, this helps eliminate waste from the store. You just pick what you need and let the rest continue to ripen! We love growing cherry tomatoes, kale, lettuce, jalapenos, cucumbers, strawberries, and bok choy.
Food Scrap Stock
Now you can make something with the food scraps no one wants. Put all those carrot skins, celery ends, and mushrooms stems in a pot with some boiling water and seasoning and in a couple hours you will have yourself a delicious stock you can add to soups, gravy, and even our Savoury Taco Oatmeal.
Understand Expiration Dates
Expiration dates are tricky to understand, but here in Canada they often mean the date of which it’s freshness is at its peak. That means you more than likely have at least a couple extra days to consume it – which means you don’t have to throw it out just this second. However you should be using asap.