If you open your refrigerator right now, how many science experiments will you find? Chances are, there’s at least one bag or container that contains food that is outdated or just plain moldy. Maybe you intended to use it as leftovers, or bought it to use in a specific recipe that you never got around to making. Whatever the reason, the food will be thrown out rather than eaten. In your quest to eat healthier and to live a greener life, you may find yourself buying fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market or organic supermarket. However, if you’re like many families only part of those fruits and vegetables ever make it to the table. In fact, food waste is one of the biggest problems families face when it comes to buying and eating fresh food.
Many families throw out over 10% of the food they buy and 25% of the vegetables, according to the National Resources Defense Council. This food waste can end up costing families $1500 to over $2000 a year for a family of four. Those are some scary figures for both your wallet and for the environment! Even though we all have the best of intentions when it comes to buying healthy, organic foods, we could all do better with purchasing and using the foods we buy. Here are some helpful tips on how to do that to save you money and place less of a burden on the environment.
One solution to this problem is to shop smarter. That means either planning out your recipes for the week and shopping according to the recipes, or making a list before you go to the store and sticking to it. Checking your pantry, fridge, and freezer before making your recipes or your list can be very helpful. You might find bottles, jars or boxes of things hidden away that you forgot you bought already! It may be helpful to post a list of the items that are currently in your pantry, freezer, or fridge, that way you’ll know what you already have before you hit the store. This will save you time spent standing in front of certain items trying to decide if you already have one at home.
Another way to ensure the food you bought actually gets used is to have the right containers. Using cheap plastic containers might be easier on the wallet, but it’s not environmentally friendly. Plus, some of the cheaper plastics can leech chemicals into the food! Not to mention, they might get cloudy over time, making it hard to see what’s in it. Investing in quality glass containers and placing them in your fridge or freezer in a well organized manner will save you lots of time, plus you will be more likely to use the food rather than let it sit. If your budget allows, look for good quality containers that can be used numerous times but that are safe for the environment.
You want to make healthy foods for your family, and you want to stretch your dollars as far as you can. Storing foods in the best possible way, using the foods you buy in a timely manner, and buying and using fresh organic produce will help you do this. You may not be able to achieve “100% no food waste” yet, but you can come much closer than you were before. And, bonus! You’ll no longer have to pull out that container from the back of the refrigerator and wonder what food it started out as!