Last week I listened to a podcast (Deliciously Ella, Season 1, Episode 5) that literally stunned me. Through it, I learned the following mind-blowing facts:
“Over 1/3 of all food produced around the world goes to waste.”
“An area larger than China is used to grow food that is never eaten every day.”
“25% of the world’s freshwater supply is used to grow the food that is never eaten.”
“The annual value of food wasted globally is 1 trillion dollars.”
“If food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gasses after China and the U.S.”
The vast majority of food waste ends up in landfills. Aside from the waste of the many resources that were used to produce this food, when food waste decomposes without access to oxygen as in the landfills, it creates methane, which is 23 times more deadly than carbon dioxide.
For a second I thought restaurants and stores had to be mostly to blame, but it turns out that households are responsible for at least half of this waste.
I quickly realized that what at first seemed like really bad news is actually excellent news. If households are responsible for the majority of this waste, then we can do something about it! Here are my tips on what we can do to help this issue:
1. Become aware.
Now that you know these facts, won’t you approach your grocery shopping in a completely different way?
2. Do an assessment of what you actually do eat.
This requires some introspection that may make you cringe, but it’s worth doing for the sake of conservation. I fancy myself an apple eater, except, the truth is I often throw out the apples I buy because they just rot in my fruit bowl (yes, I feel terrible). My son thinks he likes sweets and talks about cookies, muffins and brownies all the time, but he takes one bite and is done with them. I am not complaining about this, but now that I know what happens to food waste, I am no longer buying the things he thinks he likes! I also waste a lot of fresh herbs since recipes call for less than what is sold in store. So, I will stick to dried herbs unless the recipe absolutely requires fresh, like cilantro in guacamole.
Same goes with food portions. Take a close look at how much food is leftover after your family eats. Is it something you’re likely to eat as leftovers? If not, make a note on the recipes so you know how to adjust the quantities the next time you make that dish.
3. Plan your meals.
The most effective way to approach grocery shopping is to plan your meals for the week and make a list of exactly what you need to cook those meals. Before you even leave your house, look at what’s in your fridge and pantry. I cannot tell you how often I scratch things off my grocery list after doing this very simple thing. Once you know the items you really need, go to the grocery store and buy only what’s on that list.
4. Once a week, have a “leftover” night.
If you have leftover cooked food in your fridge, grab that. If you have random fruits and veggies, make dinner with those. If you need to, Google recipes with those ingredients. There are two ways you can cook almost any veggie: soups and stews. See my super easy, quick recipe for any veggie soup below. As for fruit, you can always use it in smoothies. Have extra bread? Make bread pudding! You get the picture...look at what you have and try your best to use up what you have in your fridge. It can actually be fun to let your fridge guide you and inspire you.
If you don’t have enough to make dinner with, can you wash, cut and freeze those items for future use?
5. Keep an eye out for what’s getting old.
I constantly do this with bananas and avocados. The bananas that are beginning to go bad, I cut up into pieces and freeze to make nice cream. It is a delicious treat you will be happy to share with your kids or even serve at a dinner party. Trust me. Here is the recipe. You can also freeze bananas for smoothies.
As soon as my avocados start feeling ripe, I put them in the fridge to help them keep longer. Now I am also keeping an eye out for other foods that are stored in my fridge and pantry and making a point of using them when they are beginning to go.
6. Freeze your bread.
The foods that get tossed the most are bread, potatoes, bananas and milk. This is so avoidable! All we need to do is freeze our bread! I like to buy baguettes that are for home baking. I keep them in the freezer and pull them out and in the oven when I am ready to eat them. If I ever have leftovers (it is rare), I chop them up into pieces and freeze them to make bread pudding at a later date. As for sandwich bread, I usually like it untoasted. So, I am going to freeze half my bread and keep the other half in the fridge. I will use the frozen for when I was toast and the other for when I don’t want it toasted.
Bananas, as I already mentioned, are super easy to freeze and great for nice cream or smoothies.
Potatoes...well, I love them roasted! Here is a great recipe for no oil roasted potatoes.
I cannot remember the last time I had to throw out milk, but if I had milk left over, I would probably make a smoothie for breakfast the next day or hot chocolate!
7. Freeze your meat.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about meat since I am vegan and my kids vegetarian. But from what I understand, you can freeze your meat, then defrost it when you know you’re going to use it.
What other ideas do you have for reducing food waste? Please email me at Laura@LoveYourBodyBoutique.com to let me know!
Any Veggie (or Bean) Soup
¼- ½ an onion, sliced thinly
½ tablespoon of olive oil
Veggies (either one kind, like all carrots, or a mix, like carrots, peas and corn), chopped, or beans
Vegetable broth (or the broth of your choice)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Place the onion in a saucepan with the olive oil over medium heat. Allow the onion to become translucent and a bit browned around the edges.
Add the veggies. These can be frozen or fresh. Mix them with the onions and sprinkle some salt and pepper (I usually go with white pepper).
Add broth to cover the vegetables. Allow the mix to boil until the veggies are tender.
Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit, then place in blender (if the mixture is too hot, the steam can blow the lid off your blender and paint your kitchen the color of the soup!). Make sure you don’t add all the broth at once. I start with about ¼ of the broth first, then add more to achieve the consistency I like in my soups.
Once blended, place back in the saucepan and adjust seasonings.
If you are making this soup with beans, I prefer to have those be precooked. In this case, when you add the broth, you only need to heat the broth in the saucepan for a little bit before blending.
When I make this soup with corn, I like to add a bit of unsweetened plain almond milk when I place the blended soup back in the saucepan.
These soups don’t have to be eaten right away. You can freeze them to eat them at a later date!