Reducing plastics waste is front-and-center news. However, the average consumer can also take steps to greatly minimize food waste.
Statistics shared by the Environmental Protection Agency include: “About 94 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities.”
The EPA provides a host of ideas to help consumers lessen the volume of discarded food filling their trash receptacles:
1. Plan a week’s worth of meals and make a detailed list before grocery shopping. Various grocery apps can help keep purchases and needs organized. Plus, recipe/shopping apps include exact food amounts needed for each meal.
2. Assess food stock in refrigerator, freezer and pantry before shopping. Clever recipe apps evaluate what already exists in a home and suggests meals.
3. Purchase only what is needed. “Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils,” reminded the EPA.
4. Freeze, preserve or can surplus fruits and vegetables, especially abundant seasonal produce. For example, instead of discarding an overripe banana, freeze it, whole and with peel on, so that it can be included in a smoothie or a banana bread or muffin recipe.
5. Wash berries only before eating; moisture left on berries tends to speed the mold cycle.
6. Use past-their-prime vegetables and fruits in cooked, blended or mashed recipes. For instance, turnips, potatoes or carrots that are somewhat soft instead of crisp are still tasty and nutritious in a soup. Mushy apples are ideal for making applesauce.
7. Plan weekly an “eat all the leftovers” night. Or, plan to eat leftovers for lunch several days during the week.
8. Compost peelings, stems, seeds, cores, pits and more. A small rotating composter breaks down fruit and vegetable scraps and turns them into fertilizer for flower and vegetable gardens, potted plants and more.