28 March 2013

8 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

When food shopping for the week (or month), a lot of thought goes in to our selections - yet many of us give very little thought about just how much of what we buy and prepare goes in the trash. On average we throw away approximately one third of the food we buy each week. That's one third of your grocery budget going into the rubbish bin!

You wouldn't take $25 cash each week and toss it into the bin, so why toss the equivalent in food?

 Here are some helpful tips to help reduce food waste.

1. Freeze Unused Food and Leftovers
Wait to have that second helping of casserole. You might find that you're not as hungry as you thought. Freeze what you have left over, even if it is just one serving. Freeze in microwavable containers and take them to work. Remember to freeze broths, tomato sauce or paste you might have left over. It all adds up. You will be amazed how much food waste you can avoid producing. 

Make sure you plan one or two "mufti" meals a month to use up your freezer stash. We tend to have these types of meals over the weekend, when everyone just helps themselves to whatever they fancy.

2. Evaluate What's in Your Rubbish
Examine what you're throwing away. If you're throwing away half of what you buy, then buy smaller portions or purchase airtight containers for long-term storage. Gel bags keep vegetables fresh longer and are an inexpensive option for long-term food storage. Tupperware type containers are  good for the fridge, freezer and pantry and being air-tight keep food at it's best longer.

3. Rearrange the Contents of Your Fridge
Keeping your fridge organized will prevent you from forgetting ingredients and having them spoil. So, keep moving things around and you will always be able to keep an eye on what you have and its condition. Check for expiration dates; toss out anything that is more than a few days past the use-by date printed on the package.

4. 3 Degrees

This is the setting that will assure your food doesn't go bad. On the average fridge, settings tend to be much warmer, which encourages food to spoil faster. So using a fridge thermometer (you can get them at any homewares store) will help ensure that your setting is correct.

5. Plan Meals
Make a meal plan for the week. Do an inventory of your pantry to see what you have. You'll be surprised how many recipes share certain ingredients. Plan three or four days to make recipes and two to eat leftovers (those mufti meals from point 1 above), taking in to consideration that you may dine out a couple of nights or have dinner with friends.

6. Rethink Buying in Bulk
Consumers buy in bulk to save money but fail to realize that if they buy more perishable goods than they need and throw away rotten or unused food, they might as well be throwing money in the bin. If you must buy in bulk, try pre-portioning meats and veggies and freezing. Herbs, bread, meat and veggies can all be frozen.

7. Shop More Often
If you do all your shopping for the week at once, fruits and veggies that you buy for a particular meal might go bad before you can use them. Instead, make a couple of small trips to pick up more produce. That way your food is nice and fresh.

8. Have a Back-up Recipe in Mind 
If you miss the opportunity to prepare a certain recipe, always have a backup recipe so your ingredients don't go to waste.

Remember - our perishables sit in landfills creating methane gas. Are you a part of the solution?

If you answered "yes," then you're well on your way to reducing the amount of food you waste, and saving yourself thousands of dollars a year in spoiled food.

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