5 Simple Ways To Minimize Food Waste


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If you eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables, chances are you have had to throw away a bag of wilted spinach or a box of moldy strawberries at some point, and you are not alone. The average American throws away close to 200 pounds of food each year.

Food waste is a global issue that occurs at every step along the way of the food supply chain. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year. And when food is wasted, it isn’t just the food itself, but all of the energy used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, and storing this food is also wasted.

While businesses and governments must implement changes to combat waste such as agricultural sustainability, redistribution and public awareness initiatives, there are several effective ways for consumers to reduce waste at home as well.

Here are 5 simple ways to minimize food waste:

1. Plan Ahead

Before going to the grocery store, make a grocery list and check to see what you already have in the kitchen so that you avoid buying more than you need. We often load up our carts only to throw away a portion of it at the end of each week. Planning your meals throughout the week is another simple way to make sure that you buy only what you need and actually end up using it. If you know you will be going out to eat a few times during the week, plan accordingly and buy fewer groceries that week. And if you are able to, grocery shop every few days to avoid produce and meat sitting around and going bad.

2. Save Vegetable Scraps For Broth

Vegetable scraps make the perfect base for homemade, mineral-rich broth. Simply store scraps like onion skins, carrot peels and trimmed ends of celery in a bag or container in the freezer. Once it’s full, add it to a pot with water and spices and simmer for an hour or two. Strain out the scraps and use the broth as you would store-bought.

3. Get Creative In The Kitchen

While we tend to only eat a small part of most fruits and vegetables, typically almost the entire thing is edible and can be used in various ways. Carrot tops, for example, can be turned into pesto combined with other fresh herbs. Beet greens are incredibly nutritious and are delicious sauteed in olive oil with a bit of garlic. Citrus fruits can be zested to add more depth of flavor to sauces and baked goods. Have fun experimenting with new recipes, and if you are unsure of how to use something, do a quick internet search for inspiration.

4. Compost Food Scraps

Diverting food waste from landfills through composting allows organic waste to decompose naturally and create nutrient-rich soil. This not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also provides valuable resources for agriculture. In many large cities, food scraps can be added directly to the green bin for commercial compost. You may also be able to find a community garden that accepts food scraps to be added to their compost heaps. And if you have the space, consider starting your own compost that can then be used to create soil for growing your own food.

5. Freeze What You Don’t Use

If you plan ahead for the week, buy only what you need and meal prep but then end up ordering takeout, try freezing your leftover meals. Anything that you won’t eat in the next few days can be frozen in storage containers or bags then simply thawed and reheated as needed. Fruits and vegetables that are beginning to soften or wilt can also be frozen and used later in smoothies or soups and stews. Wilted greens, for example, can easily be frozen and added to your morning smoothie for extra nutrients and a thicker consistency.

By adopting these simple strategies, you can minimize your individual waste while also saving yourself money in the long run.

Fiona Riddle is a Certified Health Coach with a degree in Psychology from UCLA. She is passionate about a holistic approach to health when working with her private coaching clients. She is an avid cook, constantly creating and sharing new recipes on her Instagram (@feelgoodwithfi) to showcase simple clean home cooking.

This article was reviewed and approved by Emeran Mayer, MD