Did you know that about 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year across the world? That’s enough to feed 3 billion people. While that statistic is pretty depressing in its own right, the household costs of food waste is also startling. It’s estimated that Canadians waste 140 kilograms of food annually. The average cost of that is more than $1,100. I don’t know about you, but I can think of much better ways to spend that money!
In an effort to be more mindful - and even save some money - here are 5 easy tips to help you avoid food waste at home.
1. Only buy what you will use
Avoiding wasted food starts when you’re shopping. Many of us are guilty of buying groceries that we think we’ll use, but then we don’t. Maybe it’s a recipe we thought we would try, or a decision to try eating healthier that doesn’t last longer than the grocery store check-out line. Sometimes we even get caught up in sales and good pricing and end up buying more than we need. While these intentions may seem good at the time, they quickly lead to food waste and, subsequentially, wasted money.
So, how can you avoid this? Creating grocery lists and meal planning can both be helpful when it comes to grocery shopping and buying only what you actually need. Having a plan in place rather than impulse buying is more likely to mean you’ll use what you buy.
2. Store your food correctly
Improper food storage is one of the leading causes of food waste. Think about it: How often have you reached in the fridge to grab something only to find that it’s gone mouldy? Or maybe you’ve grabbed something in the cupboard that has gone stale. You might think to yourself “I just bought that!” but if you didn’t store it correctly, it can easily be ruined. After all, many food products can be quite sensitive and fragile.
The worst culprits tend to be fruit and vegetables, which are often stored incorrectly. For example, did you know that tomatoes should not be kept in the fridge? Tomatoes last best (and taste best!) when stored at room temperature. The same goes for preserving foods, especially freezing them. It’s easy to think you can just throw things in the freezer for another day, but if you don’t seal them properly, freezer burn can quickly become a problem.
Instead, do the research. Take the time to learn how foods should be stored and create habits around what you learn.
3. Get creative in the kitchen
There are so many things you can do with food - even the parts you didn’t think you wanted to eat. So before you throw things out, consider what you could use them for. As a few fun examples, mushy bananas may not taste good on their own, but they are perfect for baking banana bread. Soft tomatoes may not be what you want to use in a salad, but they work well in soups or pasta sauces. The peels from oranges, grapefruits, and lemons aren’t what you want to eat, but you can actually bake them and grind them into a powder to use as a refreshing fruity tea.
The internet is full of great recipes and ideas for leftover foods to help you reduce your food waste. So before you throw something out, do a quick online search for some ideas.
4. Save your leftovers
Cooking too much is a frequent occurrence in many households, but that can be a good thing - if you remember to use those extra portions. Most of us have positive intentions with our leftovers, such as planning on eating them the next day for lunch or freezing them for another time. But if you just throw it in the fridge or freezer in an opaque container, it’s easy to forget about and be missed when you are rummaging in your fridge. Try to use clear containers so you can easily see and identify what is stored in your fridge or freezer. Also, if you are someone who tends to overcook a lot, choose one night a week for leftovers so that they do actually get eaten and not just saved until they go bad.
5. Keep your fridge tidy
Our final step to help avoid food waste is to keep your fridge tidy. If your fridge is overflowing with items, then things are going to get misplaced, pushed back, and forgotten about. If you keep your fridge in good order, then the food items you buy will be easier to see, meaning they are going to be less likely to be forgotten about and spoil.
These 5 easy tips for avoiding food waste aren’t hard to follow, and they can quickly help you cut down on food waste - which also has the added benefit of saving you some extra money!
Hannah Logan is a Canadian travel writer who dreams of being just like Indiana Jones. You can follow her travels on her personal travel blog Eat Sleep Breathe Travel where she shares her travel tales and (mis)adventures around the world.
Hannah Logan is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.