In a land where “buying in bulk” is the norm, it’s no wonder many Americans purchase more food than needed and toss much of it in the trash. In fact, a new report from the National Resources Defense Council revealed that Americans are throwing out $165 billion in food each year. The more sobering fact is if better care was taken to reduce food waste by individuals, government and businesses, even by cutting losses across by just 15%, more than 25 million Americans could be fed each year.
Reducing food waste is beneficial to the environment and our wallets. With these easy steps from the NRDC, you can do your part to limit what you toss out.
1. Be smart when you shop. Plan out your meals and use shopping lists to get exactly what you need. Don’t be tempted by sales or marketing ploys that will have you buying more than you need. True, you might save more upfront, but that cash goes right out with the trash if you end up tossing out what you don’t use.
2. Don’t put too much stock in expiration dates. Understand that these are just manufacturers’ suggestions, and the shelf life of food can be much longer than these imply. For help, check out our guide on how long food lasts in the fridge.
3. Embrace the imperfect. Just as healthy humans come in all shapes and sizes, so too do fruits and vegetables. Apples and oranges need not be perfectly round and blemish-free to be healthy, and crooked carrots and zucchini are just as tasty as their straighter counterparts.
4. The freezer is your friend. Got a large bunch of kale you just can’t use up in a week? Pull off what you need for the near future and freeze the rest. (As a bonus, we’ve found that this helps soften it up and make for easier cooking.) And of course whenever you have a lot of leftovers, throw those in the freezer as well and help keep your food fresher longer.
5. Keep portion sizes down. The old adage, “our eyes are bigger than our stomachs,” is one most of us can attest to. Avoid trying to fill every space of your dinner plate, and eat only what you really need. If you do happen to serve yourself too much, save the leftovers in the fridge for the week or freeze what you want for later.