More Taste, Less Waste: 5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Updated: Sep 30, 2020
I’ll be the first to admit that up until a few years ago, I had somewhat of a devil-may-care attitude towards food waste. I would go to the grocery store with an adventurous spirit, dreaming of all the dishes I was going to whip up. Then the following days would pass, with social events and busy days (and, let’s be honest, a little laziness). Alas the produce would sit neglected in the fridge.
When I learned about the impact of household food waste, I was shook; what was I contributing to?
Did you know that 1/3 of all food produced in the world gets wasted? The average Canadian household wastes about 140kg of food every year. In Toronto specifically, half of the food waste is avoidable; this is simply unacceptable!
You might be wondering, why should you care about food waste? First of all, it might be costing you a lot of money.
Believe it or not, the average Canadian home wastes about $1100 of food annually!
Second of all, the avoidable food waste in Canada is equivalent to over 2 million cars on the road. There is so much carbon dioxide and energy involved in growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food, and it is nothing short of a tragedy that a significant portion of it is all for naught.
Okay, okay, enough of the guilt-trip! Let’s move on to why we’re here.
Here are 5 things you can do today to reduce your household food waste:
(1) Plan, plan, plan
If you don’t already plan out meal and snack ideas for the week (or at least the next few days), it can seem overwhelming at first. I’ve been there! But it honestly just takes time and practice. It also helps knowing that if you mess up, IT IS OKAY. If you have a fear of cooking, check out my previous post here.
To plan out the next few days, think about some breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas that you would like to eat soon. Consider how much time you have to prepare the food when designing your menu. If you already have recipes locked and loaded, great! If not, the internet is literally overloaded with food ideas for all skill levels. I highly suggest picking a recipe that has lots of good reviews because that will help set you up for success.
Then, draft your grocery list and head to the store. Pro tip: go to the grocery store fully fed. Personally, if I go there hungry, I will end up grabbing anything and everything (but still somehow forget things that I actually needed). Anyone else?
Another handy dandy trick to reduce trips to the grocery store is to plan to use your fresh produce earlier in the week and your pantry products later in the week. For instance, you could use the fresh veggies and chicken in a stir-fry first and then dive into the canned tuna and frozen broccoli later in the week.
(2) Shop in your refrigerator first
Before going to the store with your grocery list, check what’s already in your pantry and refrigerator. Chances are that there are odds and ends in your home already that you can utilize in your meals; plan to only purchase anything extra that you need.
(3) Be flexible with recipes
This is a biggie! Do you ever see a recipe that calls for half a carrot and one and a half bell peppers? And then a week later, you find that remaining half carrot and half bell pepper and are forced to throw them out?
For many recipes, especially non-baking and non-dessert type recipes, you can get away with making modifications. For example, can you scrap the carrot and just use two bell peppers? Or maybe the half carrot and half bell pepper can be eaten as a snack during the week. Maybe that won’t be possible with every recipe, but take a few minutes to consider how you can make simple changes to use up what you have without compromising the dish.
(4) Store food properly
Keep food fresh longer by storing it in the correct place. Maintain your fridge temperature at 4C. For veggies that wilt, use a produce drawer. Separate ethylene-producing items from ethylene-sensitive ones, because ethylene is a gas that promotes the ripening of other produce. Here's a little cheat sheet:
(5) Take advantage of leftovers
I am one of those people that do not like to cook every day. I always prepare food with the intention of it lasting at least two days. With the magic of microwaves, why not right?! It helps save so much time, will lighten your daily to-do list, and may even keep you from reaching that hangry state!
I hope these tips help and feel free to share in the comments if you have any ideas of your own!
Stay nourished my friends,