Going Food Waste-LESS
I hope you enjoyed kicking off the New Year with our resolution to take better care of our two homes- our earth and our bodies- by Going Meat-LESS. I ate some delicious Meat-LESS meals, read an amazing plant-based book (OMD for the Planet), learned some easy Meat-LESS recipes from My Green Friends Chrissy Roth, Curry Girls Kitchen and Pamela Salzman, and even saved some money because I bought less meat! Thank you for making our earth a little healthier and I hope you’re feeling healthier too!
For February, I want to continue our Everyday Eco-Habit journey in the kitchen by going Food Waste-LESS. Believe it or not, food waste is a major cause of global climate change, wastes precious natural resources, not to mention wasting your money!
It may not seem like a big deal to have a little food to throw away each week, but I want to share some research on food waste so you get the gist of why this is important. Did you know roughly 40% of all food in America is wasted? This averages out to throwing away around $165 billion a year! With a family of four, that would be equivalent to throwing away roughly $150 a month in food. Globally, about 1/3 of all food produced is wasted every year - food that could go to the roughly 800 million people who suffer from hunger worldwide.
Additionally, when we waste food, we also waste tons of precious resources including water, land, and energy. In fact, 25% of the world’s freshwater is used on food that is never eaten! On top of that, food waste is responsible for over 7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions- that’s more emissions than driving 37 million cars!
Over half of the food that is wasted takes place in the home - homes of everyday people like you and me. Just think about the last thing you threw in the trash from your fridge. Was it moldy strawberries or expired milk? Get this: most ‘sell by’ dates aren’t evenregulated! Can we do something about this often overlooked problem? You betcha. Since over half of food wasted is in ourhomes, the good news is wecan easily do something about it! There are plenty of simple actions you can take to begin your Everyday Eco-Habit of Going Food Waste-LESS.
Only buy food you will actually use:
Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list. Are you planning on eating out one day? Take that into consideration. Plan to buy only what you need. Here is a great guide to help you shop.
Need a “smart shopping” list? The EPA makes it super easy with this PDF.
Before you go to the store, look at what you have in your fridge and cupboards and use what you have. Plan your meals according to what’s already in your kitchen. I am excited to partner with My Green Friend Pamela Salzman as she shows us how to use the food in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry to start fresh for the New Year. Stay tuned for my interview of Pamela and follow along as she shows us simple and delicious recipes we can make from food we already have at home. To inspire us, she is giving away a signed copy of her fabulous cook book. Simply follow us both @kim_ecohabits and @pamelasalzman and tag a friend anytime this month to be eligible.
Make meals that taste good as leftovers. A few of my personal favorites include Pamela’s vegan lentil shepherd’s pie and good ol’-fashioned chicken soup.
Buy in bulk only if you plan to eat all of the food before it spoils.
Store Food Properly
Did you know food can last a lot longer than you realize? Every food is different and can be stored for a longer period of time if you store it the right way.
Check out this great list of foods and how to store them from savethefood.com.
Many fruits give off gases that make other food go bad more quickly. Learn how to properly store certain foods from the EPA here.
Learnthe difference and importance of ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ dates.
Freeze the food you don’t plan on eating right away.
Prep and cookwhat you might not eat and freeze it for a meal later on.
Get Creative with Left-Overs and Scraps
There are so many ways to use leftovers! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Use your leftovers to create new meals. Have a little bit of rice and veggies from previous dinners? Make a stir fry or grain bowl! Get creative with what you have.
Plan a leftovers night once a week. My Green Friend Lauren’s grandma called it “Must-Go’s” and put everything out on the table. Why? Because everything “must go”. Grandmas know the value of food.
Did you know you can save that wilted cilantro? Check out this awesome article on how to revive your food, like stale bread, soggy lettuce and even burned beans that you thought might have gone bad.
Have some fruits or veggies that just don’t look great? Banana Bread, anyone? Consider freezing the fruit for smoothies, and making soups or casseroles with the veggies.
What to do with those carrot rinds and orange peels? Compost! It’s fun and pretty easy once you get the hang of it. You can learn how from the nonprofit I co-founded, called Grades of Green, here. We will also be dedicating a whole month to this Everyday Eco-Habit in the future!
Get more Involved
Make an even bigger impact in your home and your community by taking it one step further:
Learn more about Food Waste-LESS organizations and how they are changing the way food is distributed to make the world a better, healthier place. I created this summary of some of these awesome organizations for you to check out.
Hop on the Ugly Produce Bandwagon. Many companies are now selling “ugly” produce that would otherwise be thrown away at a discounted price. Some, like Imperfect Produce and Misfits Market, even deliver ugly produce right to your door! By joining, you’ll help support local farmers, reduce food waste, and save money! Even Walmart is involved! Want to learn more? Check out this interesting articlef rom National Geographic.
And check out organizations like Second Harvest that redistribute food that would otherwise be thrown away for cosmetic reasons to shelters and local families in need.
By adopting the Everyday Eco-Habit of Going Food-Waste-LESS, you’ll not only help save the environment by reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, and protecting natural resources like water, you will also save money by buying only what you need and will use (you’ve got to love that!). Plus, as you now know from the tips above and even more coming from My Green Friend Pamela, it’s simple! I’m excited to hear about how you Go Food-Waste-LESS this month. Be sure to share your adventures with me by following me @kim_ecohabits and on Facebook at Kim Lewand Martin.