We all want to reduce food waste. Famine is a global problem. In many countries, and especially in America, food waste is a severe problem. Research has proven that the US, the global leader in food waste, discards nearly 40 million tons of food every year. This number indicates that we are not doing enough as we should.
It is true that when unsettling events happen, we, humanity, must put our heads together and try to resolve any issue that arises. If you remember the saying that goes, “every little bit helps,” then you are on the right track. You have to do your part.
Are you doing your part to reduce food waste?
Doing your part includes changing your buying habits, better money management, and sharing savings tips with others. With these three main ideas, you will contribute your part to saving the environment. You will help save water and energy. Two things help the ecosystem tremendously.
I am very uncomfortable with throwing food away that has gone bad or throwing leftovers away. It is something that I hate doing, and I try my best to avoid it. I cannot help thinking that I am hurting my pockets as well. Let’s not forget about budgeting which is even difficult to do.
Here are some ideas on how to save money and reduce food waste:
- Budgeting with the mind set to reduce food waste: Create a budget that is comfortable for you to follow. Consider a few things when creating a budget for food shopping: favorite food items (for yourself and your family); driving distance to a local supermarket or wherever you buy foods (wholesale like Costco, farmer’s market, fish market, etc.)
- Plan your meals to reduce food waste: meal planning helps save time cooking and help you save money. Cook meals to eat the day you prepare them and plan for leftovers for lunch or dinner. Meal planning also is for items you buy on sale or in bulk to store in your freezer.
- Do an inventory of what you have and what you need: check your pantry, your freezer, and refrigerator for items or ingredients you have and don’t have.
- Make a shopping list: from your inventory, create a list for your shopping needs. Don’t forget items for hygiene, cleaning, etc. By creating your list, you will make better purchase decisions.
- Think about shopping often: shopping often does not mean that you will spend more money. It is all about creating the best strategy. Avoid impulse buying at all costs. Buy what you need and watch for sales.
- Check expiration dates to reduce food waste: one good exercise to do that will help you save on energy, and money is checking for expiration dates. Mostly everything has an expiration date. If an item or fruit does not have an expiration date, make a note of the purchase date.
- Learn how to properly store fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and fresh herbs: Depending on where you purchase your fruits and vegetables, you may find that they last longer when stored in the refrigerator. I find fruits purchased from places such as Costco, Aldi, and Wegmans last longer when I store them in the fridge. Store produce correctly, so they taste fresh and last longer.
- Buy in bulk and don’t buy in bulk: Buying in bulk can save money. For example, it is better to buy flour and sugar in bulk than buying 1 or 3 pounds. A 5-pound bag of flour is worth buying if you bake a lot. Dried ingredients, in general, are best to buy in bulk. Just remember to write down the expiration date or the date of purchase. Also, always buy food items you plan on using quickly. Do not buy it because it is a good bargain.
- Make your own bread: if you are not a baker or don’t like to roll or knit dough like me, invest in a bread machine. Bread machines have been around for a long time. When buying a bread machine, consider counter space and storage space.
- Consider storing pastries and bread in the freezer: I don’t usually buy just one bag of bread. I buy 3 – 4 bags at a time. I also buy different types of bread: (brioche, ciabatta, oatmeal sandwich bread, etc.)
- Buy grains and pasta in bulk: Pasta is usually not sold individually but in small quantities. (ex. 3 for $5). Also, remember that a box of pasta often serves 6 – 8 people. Pasta Dinner for a family of 4 makes the best weeknight meal when mixed with vegetables – a box will make two dinners if you don’t want leftovers. Beans are one type of dry ingredient that is best bought in bulk.
- Make a stew with wilted vegetables: This is one of the best ways to save your wilted greens. A bag or container of wilted baby spinach or arugula can be saved by making either a meatless vegetable stew or meat with vegetable stew.
- Invest in quality freezer bags and quality freezer containers: Consider buying BPA Free food storage containers. Also, consider buying freezer ziplock bags to store leftovers in the freezer.
- Don’t throw away all your scraps: Soups and stocks are an excellent way to use scraps.
- Invest in cooking books: many cookbooks will help you make easy to challenging recipes. I recommend buying cookbooks with photos. This way, you can have an idea of how your food will look. Check out these cookbooks below:
Lastly, make sure you follow a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle. Research the diet you want to follow, make a list of the food items you should buy, and search for recipes to create not boring meals. Be mindful of how you spend your money and be creative with your meals. Don’t forget to spend time with family and friends.