How To Cut Down On Your Food Waste

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2013 over 35 million tons of food waste were disposed of in landfills or combustion facilities. This is upsetting not only because there are so many people – approximately one in nine – who don’t have enough food to eat, but the fumes from the food in landfills produces methane gas, which is contributing to climate change. There are plenty of ways that you can cut down on the food you waste to help the environment and save yourself money as well.

Utilize your freezer
If you’re going out of town for the week and have a lot of food in your refrigerator, stick it in your freezer instead of leaving it in the fridge. Otherwise, it will likely spoil and need to be thrown away when you get home. Look into the proper ways to pack different foods so they don’t get freezer burned or soggy.

Use airtight containers
Plastic containers can work wonders when it comes to keeping your food fresh. If you find that you have a hard time finishing your cereal or chips before they get stale, try storing them in airtight containers. Even if bags are thoroughly sealed, there always seems to be a way for air to leak in, causing you to throw away food you could have eaten.

Make a list when you go grocery shopping
According to Think Eat Save, over a third of shoppers don’t bring a list to the grocery store, leading them to buy things they don’t need. Check what you have at home before you go to the store and shop with specific meals in mind.

First in, first out
If you’ve ever worked a food service job, you’ve probably heard the term FIFO. Organize your refrigerator and pantry so that older products are in front of the newer ones. This will ensure that you don’t have to throw things away because you accidentally ate the items with the later expiration date first.

Learn what expiration dates mean
Many people throw food away judging by the date on the label rather than the state of the food itself. While this is understandable – because foodborne illness is miserable, it causes many people to throw away foods that are still perfectly good to eat.

  • “Use by” and “best by” don’t indicate that the product may be spoiled, just that the product has reached peak freshness. Eating something a couple of days past the “use by” date most likely will not get you sick.
  • “Sell by” is written on labels for the retailer. They’re used to ensure turnover, so a consumer still has a considerable amount of time to eat the food before it’s no longer fresh.

Use food that’s past its prime
Don’t throw food away that doesn’t run the risk of getting you sick. Stale bread can be made into croutons or bread crumbs, wilted greens taste great sauteed and mold can be cut off of blocks of cheese – that’s what stores that wrap their own cheese do. You may not want to use these items in the ways that you normally would, but there are many other options.

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