20 easy ways to reduce food waste

Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize.

In fact, almost a third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for several reasons. That's equivalent to almost 1.3 billion tons every year (1).

Not surprisingly, industrialized countries like the United States waste more food than developing nations. In 2010, the average American generated approximately 219 pounds (99 kg) of food waste, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2).

Even if you do not think that food waste affects you, think again.

Throwing edible foods does not just waste money. Discarded foods are sent to landfills, where they rot and produce methane gas, which is the second most common greenhouse gas. In other words, throwing away food contributes to climate change.

It also wastes a lot of water. According to the World Resources Institute, 24% of all water used for agriculture is lost through food waste each year. That's 45 trillion gallons (about 170 trillion liters).

Although these numbers may seem overwhelming, you can help reduce this harmful practice by following the simple tips in this article. Every little bit helps.

1. Smart store

Young woman buying carrots

Most people tend to buy more food than they need.

Although buying in bulk may be convenient, research has shown that this purchase method leads to more food waste (3).

To avoid buying more food than you need, make frequent trips to the supermarket every few days instead of a bulk shopping trip once a week.

Be sure to use all the foods you bought during the last trip to the market before buying more groceries.

Also, try to make a list of the items you need to buy and stick to that list. This will help you reduce impulse buying and also reduce food waste.

2. Store the food correctly

Improper storage leads to a large amount of food waste.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately two thirds of household waste in the United Kingdom is due to food spoilage (4).

Many people are not sure how to store fruits and vegetables, which can lead to premature maturation and, eventually, to rotten products.

For example, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and onions should never be refrigerated. These items should be kept at room temperature.

Separating foods that produce more ethylene gas from those that do not is another excellent way to reduce spoilage. Ethylene promotes the maturation of food and can cause deterioration.

Foods that produce ethylene gas during ripening include:

  • Bananas

  • Avocados

  • The tomatoes

  • Melons

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Green onions

Keep these foods away from ethylene-sensitive products such as potatoes, apples, leafy green vegetables, berries and peppers to prevent premature spoilage.

3. Learn to conserve

While you may think that fermentation and pickling are new fashions, food preservation techniques like these have been used for thousands of years.

Pickling, a type of preservation method that uses brine or vinegar, may have been used since 2400 BC (5).

Pickling, drying, canning, fermentation, freezing and curing are all methods you can use to make food last longer, thus reducing waste.

These methods will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but also save you money. In addition, most conservation techniques are simple and can be fun.

For example, packing an excess of ripe apples and turning them into applesauce, or picking fresh carrots from the market will provide a delicious and lasting treatment that even children will enjoy.

4. Do not be a perfectionist

Did you know that rummaging in an apple container until you find the one that best looks contributes to the waste of food?

Although identical in taste and nutrition, so-called "ugly" fruits and vegetables are passed through products that are more pleasing to the eye.

The demand of consumers for perfect fruits and vegetables has led the main supermarket chains to buy high quality products from farmers. This leads to tons of perfectly good food that is wasted.

It's such a big problem that major supermarket chains like Walmart and Whole Foods have started offering "ugly" fruits and vegetables at a discount in an attempt to reduce waste.

Do your part by choosing slightly imperfect products in the grocery store, or better yet, directly from the farmer.

5. Keep your fridge free of clutter

You have probably heard the saying "out of sight, out of mind". This sounds especially true when it comes to food.

While having a well-stocked fridge can be a good thing, too full a refrigerator can be bad when it comes to food waste.

Help prevent food spoilage by keeping your refrigerator organized so you can clearly see the food and know when you bought it.

A good way to supply your refrigerator is through the FIFO method, which means "first in, first out".

For example, when you buy a new carton of berries, place the newest package behind the old one. This helps ensure that older foods are used, not wasted.

6. SaveLeftovers

Leftovers are not just for vacations.

Although many people save excess food from hearty meals, they are often forgotten in the refrigerator and then thrown away when they spoil.

Storing leftovers in a clear glass container, rather than in an opaque container, helps ensure that food is not forgotten.

If you cook a lot and have leftovers regularly, designate a day to use any that has accumulated in the refrigerator. It is an excellent way to avoid throwing away food.

In addition, it saves you time and money.

7. eat the skin

People often remove skins of fruits, vegetables and chicken when preparing meals.

This is a shame, because many nutrients are found in the outer layer of the product and in the skin of the birds. For example, apple skins contain a large amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

In fact, researchers have identified a group of compounds present in apple peels called triterpenoids. They act as potent antioxidants in the body and may have abilities to fight cancer (6, 7).

Chicken skin is also full of nutrients, including vitamins A, B vitamins, proteins and healthy fats (8).

In addition, chicken skin is a surprising source of selenium antioxidant, which helps fight inflammation in the body (9).

These benefits are not limited to chicken and apple skin. The outer layers of potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, mangoes, kiwis and aubergines are also edible and nutritious.

Eating the skin is not only delicious, it is economical and reduces the impact of food waste.

8. eat the yolk

Although most people are moving away from the popular trend of low-fat diets, many still avoid egg yolks, opting for egg-white tortillas and scrambled egg whites.

Avoiding egg yolks is mainly due to fear of increased cholesterol levels. Many people assume that eating foods high in cholesterol, such as eggs, has a great impact on cholesterol levels.

However, studies have shown that in most people, dietary cholesterol only has a small effect on cholesterol levels (10, 11).

Your liver actually produces most of the cholesterol you need and your body closely regulates the levels in the blood. When you eat foods that contain a high amount of cholesterol, your liver simply compensates by producing less.

In fact, the evidence shows that most people, even those with high cholesterol, can enjoy whole eggs without risk (12).

In addition, egg yolks are full of nutrients, which include protein, vitamin A, iron, selenium and B vitamins (13).

If you simply do not like the taste or texture of egg yolks, you can add them to other recipes to mask the flavor. You can even use the yolks as an ultra moisturizing hair mask.

9. Be a savior of seeds

Of the 1.3 trillion pounds of pumpkins that are produced in the United States each year, most end up being discarded.

While carving pumpkins can be fun for the whole family, there are ways to reduce the waste that comes with this activity.

In addition to using the tasty meat of your pumpkins in recipes and baking, an excellent way to cut waste is to save the seeds. In fact, pumpkin seeds are tasty and full of nutrients.

They are very high in magnesium, a mineral that is important for the health of the heart and blood and helps control blood pressure and blood sugar levels (14, 15).

To save the pumpkin seeds, simply wash and dry the seeds, then mix with a little olive oil and salt and roast in the oven.

Pumpkin and acorn seeds can be prepared in the same way.

10. Mix it

Mixing a smoothie full of nutrients can be a delicious way to reduce food waste.

While the stems, ends and shells of the products may not be appetizing in all their forms, adding them to a shake is one way to obtain their many benefits.

The stems of green leaves such as kale and chard are full of fiber and nutrients, which makes them an excellent addition to shakes. The glasses of beet, strawberries and carrots are also excellent complements.

Other items that would otherwise be discarded can also be thrown into a nutritious mix, which includes fruit and vegetable husks, withered herbs, ripe bananas and chopped broccoli stems.

11. Make homemade stock

Preparing a homemade broth is an easy way to use excess food.

Sauté the remains of vegetables such as tapas, stems, shells and any other piece left over with a little olive oil or butter, then add water and let them simmer in an aromatic vegetable broth.

Vegetables are not the only leftovers that can be transformed into a tasty flavor.

Instead of letting the chicken carcass or meat bones of your dinner go to waste, simmer with vegetables, herbs and water to make a homemade broth that will make the store-bought broth a shame.

12. Perk Up YourWater

Many people do not drink enough water simply because they do not like the taste or lack thereof.

Fortunately, it can make the water more tasty and at the same time reduce the impact of food waste.

One of the easiest ways to increase your water intake is to make it taste good. Use peels of citrus fruits, apples and cucumbers to add a kick to your glass of water or mineral water.

Withered herbs and berry lids are also excellent additions to your water bottle.

After finishing your water, throw the fruit or leftover herbs in a shake to increase nutrition without waste.

13. Keep your service sizes under control

Eating too much is a problem for many people.

Making sure that portion sizes stay within a healthy range not only helps keep your weight down, but also reduces food waste.

While you may not think twice before scraping the excess food from your plate in the trash, remember that food waste has a big impact on the environment.

Being more aware of how hungry you are and practicing portion control are excellent ways to reduce food waste.

14. Befriend your freezer

Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to preserve it, and the types of food that go well with freezing are endless.

For example, greens that are a bit too soft to use in your favorite salad can be placed in safe bags or containers for the freezer and later in shakes and other recipes.

You can combine an excess of herbs with olive oil and chopped garlic, then freeze it in trays of ice cubes for a practical and delicious addition of stir-fries and other dishes.

You can freeze leftovers from meals, excess products from your favorite farm stall, and bulk foods like soups and chili peppers. It's a great way to make sure you always have a healthy and homemade meal available.

15. Understand expiration dates

"Sell for" and "expire on" are just two of the many confusing terms that companies use on food labels to notify consumers when a product is likely to be damaged.

The problem is that the government of the United States does not regulate these terms (16).

In fact, the task is often left to food producers to determine the date when they believe a product is more likely to spoil. The truth is that most foods that have passed their expiration date are still safe to eat.

"Sell by" is used to inform retailers when the product should be sold or removed from the shelves. "Best by" is a suggested date by which consumers should use their products.

Neither of these terms means that the product is not safe to eat after the indicated date.

While many of these labels are ambiguous, "use by" is the best to follow. This term means that the food may not be in its best quality after the indicated date (17).

A move is being made to make the food expiration labeling system clearer to consumers. In the meantime, use your best judgment when deciding if foods that are a little beyond their expiration date are safe to eat.

16. Compost if you can

Composting leftovers is a beneficial way to reuse food waste, converting food waste into energy for plants.

While not all have space for an outdoor composting system, there is a wide range of countertop composting systems that make this practice easy and accessible for everyone, even those with limited space.

An outdoor composter can work well for someone with a large garden, while a countertop composter is best for city dwellers with indoor plants or small herb gardens.

17. Pack your lunch

Although going out to lunch with coworkers or taking a meal from your favorite restaurant can be enjoyable, it is also expensive and can contribute to food waste.

A useful way to save money while reducing your carbon footprint is to bring your lunch to work with you.

If you tend to generate the leftovers from home-cooked meals, pack them for a satisfying and healthy lunch for your workday.

If you do not have enough time in the morning, try freezing the leftovers in containers the size of a serving. That way, you will have prepared and plentiful meals ready to go each morning.

18. Do not go ashore

If you can not prepare for your day without a cup of hot coffee, it is likely to generate many coffee beans.

Interestingly, this often overlooked remnant has many uses.

Those with a green thumb may be delighted to know that coffee beans are excellent fertilizers for plants. Soils are rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are nutrients that plants want.

The coffee grounds also make a fantastic natural mosquito repellent.

In fact, research has shown that spraying spent coffee beans on grassy areas deters mosquitoes from laying eggs, reducing the population of these pesky insects (18).

19. Become creative in the kitchen

One of the best things about cooking your own food is that you can modify the recipes to your liking, adding new flavors and ingredients.

Including parts of foods that are not commonly used is a great way to reuse waste when you're experimenting in the kitchen.

Stems and stems make tasty additions to sauteed and baked dishes, while garlic and onion ends can add flavor to sauces and sauces.

Preparing a fresh pesto made with broccoli stems, soft tomatoes, wilted spinach or cilantro instead of traditional basil is an inventive way to add a flavorful touch to your favorite dishes.

20. Take care of yourself

If you want to save money and avoid the potentially harmful chemicals found in some skin care products, try preparing an exfoliation or mask at home.

Avocados are full of healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamin E, which makes them a perfect complement to a natural mask (19).

Combine overripe avocado with a little honey to obtain a luxurious combination that can be used on the face or hair.

Mixing the coffee grounds used with a little sugar and olive oil makes it an invigorating body scrub. You can also apply cold used tea bags or excess cucumber slices to your eyes to reduce swelling.

The bottom line

There are endless ways to reduce, reuse and recycle your food waste.

The practical tips in this article will not only help you waste less food, but also save you money and time.

By thinking more about the foods your home is wasting every day, you can help create positive change to conserve some of the most valuable resources on earth.

Even minimal changes in the way food is bought, cooked and consumed will help reduce its impact on the environment. It does not have to be difficult.

With a little effort, you can dramatically reduce food waste, save money and time, and help relieve the pressure on Mother Nature.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/reduce-food-waste


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