Food waste is a severe issue in the United States that everyone should avoid in terms of health and finances. According to the Department of Agriculture, America wastes 119 billion pounds of food, equivalent to 130 billion meals and $408 billion. Moreover, around 40% of all food goes into landfills, wasting the energy, time, and supplies used to grow it.
However, you can make a significant difference in your finances and your pantry by learning how to prevent food waste at home. Apply these tips to reduce waste, save cash, and enjoy fresh, healthy meals.
1. Buy Local Produce
Supermarket produce is certainly convenient, but it goes through a long supply chain to get from the grower to your table. In some cases, produce can come from overseas, so you’re never quite sure how old or fresh it is.
Fortunately, you can circumnavigate this issue by buying fresh produce from your local grocer. Grocers that source their inventory from local growers ensure the food is as fresh as possible, helping you prevent food waste at home every time you shop.
2. Take Inventory of Your Current Food
Before heading to the grocery store, go through the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to get an idea of what you already have and need. This will prevent overbuying and help you purchase only the food you need. It also enables you to create a grocery list, keeping you on track and helping you avoid buying unnecessary items.
3. Eat Before You Grocery Shop
Another smart move to prevent food waste at home is to eat before you go. When you’re hungry and perusing the grocery store, you’re more likely to overbuy, purchase unhealthy foods, and buy impulse items — all of which can lead to food waste.
4. Start Composting
If you start composting, no type of food has to go to waste at home. Vegetable and fruit peels, seeds, coffee grounds, eggshells, and recently spoiled produce can all go in the compost bin. After you fill your bin, you can even use it to feed your garden.
To start composting on the simplest level, put any leftover foodstuffs in a coffee tin or a plastic bucket. Once you fill it, spread it out over your lawn or garden. Most compost is ready for use within a month or two, depending on what you put in it.
5. Use Leftovers Wisely
Whether for fear of sickness, spoilage, or lackluster taste, many people throw their leftovers in the wastebasket. But that kind of misguidance and a lack of information contributes to widespread food waste at home.
Most leftovers are perfectly fine to leave in the fridge for up to five days — including meat and fish. Vegetables and fruits may even last a bit longer. If you don’t like eating leftovers, coming up with a few recipes — such as a stir fry or fried rice — can help you eat them without compromising on flavor. At the very least, throw them in the compost to avoid food waste.
Waste Not, Want Not
The overarching principle of food waste aversion lies in your hands. Keep track of how much you eat, don’t overbuy, and eat before you shop. If you adhere to these rules, you should curb food waste at home and put more money in your pocket each year.
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