While we all have a choice to eat what we want to, wasting food is something we can all collectively learn to avoid.
When food is wasted, we are not just throwing away food, but everything it took to produce that food is also wasted – the water, the pollinators & effort from the ecosystem, the fertilizer, the land, water and the hard work put those growing the food that we eat.
Approximately 40% of the food produced globally is lost while still on (or further up in the) supply chain.– Leigh Prezkop
What can we do to stop or reduce food waste?
1. Use a shopping list
Use a shopping list to purchase foods that you NEED and will use during the week. If you are a shopaholic, tag along someone who has a specific task to double check the items in the shopping cart against the shopping list. A quick check before you get to the counter helps reduce the unwanted list of items getting into your pantry and waiting endlessly beyond their expiry dates to hit the trash.
2. Make a food chart
Prepare a food chart or meal plan for the week. Include all the wishes of the family members across the week. Shop for only those items. While it might need a little bit of planning, it helps a great deal to stick to the budget, caters to everyone’s interests and reduces food waste significantly.
3. Keep the fresh fruits and veggies right where you can see them
Be they in the refrigerator or on the dining table, fresh fruits and veggies can be eaten by anyone as a quick snack. When they are shoved into the interiors of the refrigerator or hidden away into hanging baskets that are out of reach, no one gets to know that the food is getting spoiled and wasted. While we can buy in smaller quantities, ensuring it is accessible to everyone helps ensure it is getting consumed as well.
4. What we buy is not what we end up eating
While parents put in a LOT of thought process to balance all types of foods and nutrients in their kids meals, it is imperative to understand and realize that NOT ALL food that is bought at the store, actually ends up in our mouths. Maintain a food log (and inculcate that habit in children) so that the next time you go shopping, you know exactly what is being eaten and how, by whom, and how much. Adjust what you buy, or change what you make and how the food is expected to be consumed. It is worthwhile compared to just throwing out lunch box leftovers frequently.
Food waste contributes to nearly 10% of all greenhouse gas emission.– WWF Report on Driven to waste.
5. Refrigerate leftovers
Any cooked meal ends up with some leftovers, try to refrigerate them. Keeping aside some space in the refrigerator for leftover food is good. Ensure there is a process to eat it by the next day or the day after. Do not leave leftovers for weeks together and forget about them in the refrigerator. Again, that would add to food waste.
6. Freeze food when necessary
Some foods can be frozen and thawed to be eaten or baked later. Make sure you package the prepared food appropriately and keep them frozen. For traditional dishes, learning it from parents or family members helps. These tips & tricks to store & use food over longer durations help a great deal to reduce food waste and continue to consume healthy food.
7. Know your neighborhood non-profits
Get to know your local community soup kitchen, meal train volunteers groups, gardening surplus donations and food banks. Some accept excess produce, some accept cooked meals, some provide for cooked meals, some feed the hungry, some make meal trains for families in need, and some run thrift shops to help make low-cost food available for families in need. Know the organizations and non-profits that operate in your community and leverage them as needed when you have excess food or excess pantry supplies, or excess produce from your garden. Charity does begin at home.
8. Measure how much food you throw away every week
Keep note of what you throw away every week. When we are conscious about what we throw, inherently, we figure out a way to reduce the wastage and use the food more effectively. When you are starting off with a goal to reduce food wastage, take simple steps. Ensure you throw away less food than what you wasted yesterday or the week before. This simple goal helps us continue to move forward with our goals while not guilt-tripping ourselves with everything we purchase or end up not using.
There are some restaurants that serve buffet meals – a quote from one of them
Fill your plate as much as you can eat for the regular price, leftover food on your plate goes waste and will be charged extra.
This is a reminder for us when we consume food at home as well.