In addition to the recent study by the USDA mentioned previously, a recent article at the Huffington Post highlighted the large amount of food waste that Americans pump out each and every day, reaching up to 50% of all food purchased. Although oversized portions at restaurants make up a large amount of this as do goods from your local grocer that expire before purchase, ask anyone who has cleaned out their refrigerator lately and we'll tell you we home cooks are not without blame.
How can you help combat the issue at home (besides composting)? Here are five steps to eating what you buy and making the most of it:
1. Make a Plan: More often than not, ingredients go bad in the refrigerator or pantry when we buy on impulse and don't have a plan for using. Shop with a list derived from a meal plan and you'll almost always be on track.
2. Leftovers Aren't Evil: You busted out the slow cooker and you have chili for days if not years. Instead of eating it for an entire week straight (although there's nothing wrong with that), try freezing portions that you won't eat immediately. They'll be a happy surprise later on when time is short for dinner. You won't get bored with your meal choices and spring for eating out instead.
3. Eat With Your Stomach: Well, technically we eat with our mouths, but we've all heard the saying that folks eat with their eyes and not their stomachs. Often we pile our plates high with something that looks or smells amazing but we aren't really hungry for that quantity we took. It might sit on your plate or counter for the night and then end tragically in the trash when not finished. Take what you're hungry for and you can always go back for more!
4. Own Your Waste: If you don't feel like eating your leftovers or table scraps, then compost. Even small apartments and kitchens can help out and help break down organic material so it doesn't end up in landfills.
5. Call Up a Friend: It's a gift to call a friend and ask them if they can use a food item or half a pan of lasagna that you're just not going to finish. Likewise, you could add a posting to Craigslist or Freecycle and give your almost expired goods to someone in need. It's a great way to help make sure food is eaten and not trashed!
How do you help combat food waste in your own home? What items are hardest to use up? Let us know in the comments below!
(Image: Brooke Becker/Shutterstock)