While food waste is a complex problem with losses occurring throughout the supply chain, a large portion is generated by consumers at home. On average, a family of four spends $1,500 on food that is thrown away each year. There are many simple actions that you can take at home to reduce the amount of food — and money — you throw away.
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- Use it. Don’t Lose it.
- Plan ahead.
- Shop your refrigerator.
- Take a list.
- Buy local.
- Do the FIFO.
- Store it right.
- Understand the dates.
- Donate. Donate. Donate.
- Ask for a doggie bag.
- Get creative with leftovers.
- Let it rot. Compost.
The key is to shop smart, prep smart and store smart.
- Buy reusable food containers to keep at home — share them with guests to reduce leftover waste.
- Keep a reusable food container in your office, car or wherever works best for you. Then, you can save what you can’t eat for a snack later.
- Make sure your knives are sharp. Dull knives lead to sloppy trimming — which makes for excess food waste..
- Set aside two hours each weekend to prep items that might otherwise go bad in your fridge. Clean and cut carrots, bell peppers and celery for snacks for the week — even if you don’t eat them as snacks, you can end the week with a quick stir fry.
- Make a batch of soup/dinners for busy weeknights and freeze portions.
- Make the freezer your friend. Learn best practices for freezing or do a web search for individual items as needed.
- Use an online recipe generator to find recipes based on the ingredients in your fridge and pantry (supercook.com, myfridgefood.com, recipematcher.com).
- Shop bulk bins for experimental items so you don’t end up with a shelf full of half-eaten bags of food like lentils, rice and quinoa.
- Buy local produce — it will stay fresh longer.
The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed into law to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need. The legislation offers protection for these donors from liability when donating food in good faith.
- Donate leftover food to food banks or shelters.
- Donate food to farmers for animal feed.
If you end up with wasted food, you can recycle what you don't eat. Compost is a free fertilizer and mulch you can make in your own backyard.
- Buy a compost bin — check with your local county recycling office for possible assistance.
- Build your own compost bin.
- Keep a small bin or bowl in the kitchen for food waste to transport to your bigger bin.
- Use three parts “brown” (carbon: leaves, mulch, brown paper) to one part “green” (nitrogen: green clippings, food waste) when adding to your compost bin.