Recently, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a national goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.
Every year, 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the U.S. That translates to 31% of the overall food supply ending up in a landfill.
Especially during the winter holidays, it can be tricky to prioritize avoiding food waste. With relatives to entertain, dietary preferences to consider, and a considerable pressure to provide an abundance of everything (from food to tender love and care to gifts!) we often times produce more than we consume. So, here are three easy-to-follow steps to help you avoid food waste:
STEP ONE: Eat Ugly Food!
A significant amount of food waste comes from a quest for perfect-looking food. But, this perfectionist approach to eating and cooking means that some fruits and vegetables are scrapped from the beginning. Whole Foods says that a root-to-stem approach to cooking is on the way! This means that every part of the plant, from the root to the stem, will be used in a recipe. There are also box services that specifically sell ugly foods so that they aren't tossed and contribute to food waste. Even if your food has a bruise or a dimple, it still has the same nutritious goodness and deserves to be eaten.
STEP TWO: Create a grocery list and stick to it!
Meal planning and preparation is not just a fad but a way to really understand what you eat. Grocery lists make you slow down and think through what you're going to consume that week. Do you need 5 apples, or will you really only eat 3? Are you making a full lasagna and eating those leftovers for a few days, or are you going to half the recipe? When you stick to your list week after week you will gain a better understanding of how much you need to purchase to have the quantities you want.
STEP THREE: Eat your leftovers!
Speaking of desired quantities, do not be afraid of leftovers. But, do be afraid of forgotten leftovers! Nobody likes discovering a mystery multicolored Tupperware in the back of the fridge. So, be sure you store your leftover foods appropriately and keep an eye on them. Don't leave hot foods out for more than two hours. When you're ready to put your leftovers into containers, it's recommended that you use individual portions so you are more likely to eat them in the future.
These three steps are not just for the holiday times; use them every week and every day to reduce your food waste. Once you have mastered them, you should look into additional resources provided by the EPA and FDA to continue making a difference in combating wasted food with each meal.