Did you know over 80 billion pounds of food are thrown away in the U.S. each year? Between leftovers that are lost in the back of the fridge and produce that spoils before you get the chance to eat it, people aren’t always aware of how much food they waste each day.
In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that 68 percent of generated food waste ended up in landfills or combustion facilities. It's vital to sustainably manage food and reduce waste to conserve resources for generations to come. Conserving food can help both businesses and consumers save money, and it goes a long way in helping to serve communities where healthy food and quality ingredients are in limited supply.
If you hope to do your part and save food today and every day, learn how to support Stop Food Waste Day with these preservation tips.
Why is Food Wasted?
Food can be thrown away for several reasons. Oftentimes, misshapen, mismarked, or oddly colored fruits and veggies won’t meet the requirements of the supplier and are tossed aside before they leave the farm. This is also the case for produce items that are an unusual size.
Food that is not eaten before the expiration date is typically thrown away, whether done by the grocery store or by the consumer at home. In developed countries like the United States, this accounts for the greatest proportion of food waste. And not far behind is disposing of fully cooked, uneaten food. This would be the leftover couscous that you forgot to finish after you went out to celebrate Taco Tuesday. We order takeout, we go out to dinner, and we forget to clean out our fridge, leading to far too much food waste.
Benefits of Reducing Food Waste
It should go without saying, reducing food waste saves you money and allows you to buy groceries less often. Beyond the monetary implications, food preservation reduces methane emissions from landfills and contributes to lessening your carbon footprint.
It's the easiest way to conserve energy and prevent pollution in every aspect of growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food. And instead of letting food expire and throwing it away, you could always support your local community and donate fresh, untouched food to those who do not have a consistent supply of food.
Ways to Prevent Food Waste
Preventing food waste can be broken down into four categories: planning, storage, food preparation, and thriftiness.
- Planning your meals for the week will help you save money and enjoy healthier options. If you don’t over-shop and only buy what you plan to use, you’re more likely to use all your food while it’s fresh.
- Keep specific ingredients in the house. If there are certain meals you know your household enjoys, this makes it much easier to shop and prepare meals around key ingredients.
- Plan your shopping list based on the meals you cook at home. If you eat out often, account for that in your grocery haul.
- Consider quantities in your shopping list and how many meals you can make with each item. This will prevent you from overbuying so you have enough time to eat all your grocery items before they expire. For example, how many meals can you prepare with a head of lettuce?
- Examine your refrigerator and cupboards to prevent buying an item you already have. If you’re going to the store, decide what needs to be used up first and plan meals around those items.
- Be wary of buying in bulk. This is only a cost-effective means if you’re able to eat all the food before it goes bad.
- It’s easy to buy an excess of fruits and vegetables and forget about them during the week, so store produce in your refrigerator's crisper drawer to preserve maximum freshness. If you can see them right up front, you’ll be reminded to use them before any spoilage occurs.
- If you did purchase a surplus of produce, consider freezing your fruits to use for smoothies or yogurt parfaits. This is especially valuable for seasonal produce if you like to stock up on fresh berries. And if you still can’t use it all, try canning your produce and prepare homemade jam, salsa, or relish.
- Fruit gives off natural ethylene gas as it ripens, which can cause other produce items to spoil faster. Store items such as bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves and store fruits and veggies in separate bins.
- Hold off on washing berries until you are ready to eat them. If you rinse berries and put them back in the fridge, the excess moisture can cause them to develop mold.
- If you prefer room temperature fruit but it needs to be refrigerated to preserve freshness, take out the amount you’ll eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning and leave the rest of it chilled.
Meal Prep Tips
- As soon as you get home from the store, wash, slice, and dice vegetables and place your fresh produce in storage containers for easy snacking and easy meal prep.
- Your freezer is your friend. For example, bread, fruit, and meat you buy ahead of time and won’t be able to eat can be frozen until you’re ready. Preparing and freezing meals in advance will also reduce your time spent in the kitchen each day.
- The freezer is great for long or short-term meal prep. You can freeze filet mignon for a special anniversary dinner, or you can bake and freeze chicken breasts to use for dinner later in the week.
- Shop your refrigerator and be mindful of the leftovers you currently have in the fridge. Cook what’s already at home and make new meals out of leftover food.
- If produce is slightly past its time, this is the perfect time to make soups, casseroles, sauces, stir-fries, cookies, loaves of bread, and pancakes.
- Use edible parts of food that you wouldn't normally eat for new meals. For example, stale bread makes delicious homemade croutons for soups and salads.
- Learn the difference between “sell-by” and “use-by” expiration dates and dedicate one or two nights per week to finishing leftovers before they go bad.
- If you like to eat out, ask about portion sizes and side dishes that are included with your entrée. Take home your leftovers and plan to eat them for your next meal. And when it comes to all-you-can-eat buffets, only take what you know you can finish.
In case you have trouble keeping all these tips top-of-mind, recall this paired down list to prevent food waste:
- Don’t over-buy. Keep track of what you’ve bought and examine your fridge before you grocery shop.
- Only buy what you can before it expires and be aware of use-by dates at the time of purchase.
- Plan ahead. Think about the meals you are going to prepare and how you plan to use up leftovers.
- Don’t be afraid to freeze. You can prepare a batch of meals and freeze them to use throughout the month.
Make an Impact
Do your part to celebrate Stop Food Waste Day and make an impact in the community and the environment.
If you hope to stay in to prepare more meals at home, it starts with the right selection of kitchen appliances. Refrigerators with high-end preservation features and ovens with a variety of cooking modes from steam to convection to air fry provide a diverse opportunity to prepare and preserve a multitude of meals.
If you have questions or would like more information, give us a call, browse our digital catalog online, or visit us in person to shop our collection of refrigeration and cooking appliances and accessories.