It’s something we’re probably all guilty of: food waste. On average, the traditional household in the United States creates about 1.3 pounds of food waste each day. Yet, there are some simple solutions we can all do at home to remedy this situation.
One of the easiest things we can do as consumers is commit to using the food we buy. Shop with a purpose, with several recipes in mind, and then follow through during the week and actually prepare those meals.
For many, the work week takes a toll on their energy. Spending an hour in the kitchen preparing, cooking and cleaning after a long day loses its appeal. To keep that from happening, have some quick and easy recipes handy. It’s also a good opportunity to involve the whole family in process by letting the kids help prepare the meal and clean up.
Always try to eat any leftovers; look for ways to incorporate them into other meals or divvy them out for lunches the next day. Depending on how much remains, you should also consider freezing leftovers.
To help kick-start awareness in your home, take note of everything thrown into the trash for one week. Then use those notes to start developing better habits. If you threw away half a box of stale cereal, the next time you make that purchase, store it in an air-tight container.
Reorganize your refrigerator so that ingredients don’t get pushed to the back and then lost in the shuffle of other items. Keep your leftovers and time-sensitive fresh items in sight. Look for ways to incorporate those items that are close to expiration into casseroles, fajitas or soups.
Understand the difference between “sell by” and “use by” dates so you aren’t unnecessarily throwing food away based only on that date. If stored properly, most food stays fresh for several days past those dates. But be sure to note the food’s odor and texture to ensure you aren’t eating something that has spoiled.
Last fall, the USDA and EPA joined with several corporations and charitable organizations to set food waste reduction goals for the United States – calling for a 50 percent reduction by 2030.
“An average family of four leaves more than two million calories, worth nearly $1,500, uneaten each year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a release from September 2015. “The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on Earth, but too much of this food goes to waste.”
Food loss and waste in the United States counts for approximately 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of the overall food supply. Here is a quick look at the United States’ food waste:
¼ of all food purchased gets thrown away
97% of that food ends up in landfills
48.1 million Americans are food-insecure
15.3 million of those are children
14% of U.S. households are food-insecure
“Let’s feed people, not landfills. By reducing wasted food in landfills, we cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources and protect our plant for future generations,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in the release.