Stefanie here – Motive Nutrition’s resident green queen. Did you know Canadians waste about 31 millions pounds of food each year? What’s more is that half of it comes from our households! That’s a lot of food (and dollars) wasted…wouldn’t you agree? At times like these, when our planet (and wallets) could use a helping hand, it’s in all of our best interest to pitch in and do our part to reduce food waste. Here are my top 5 tips to get you started.
1. Plan your meals
Possibly the biggest piece in the food waste puzzle, planning your meals avoids buying foods on a whim that you don’t know how to prepare, that wind up in the back of the fridge until mouldy and you’re forced to toss. The best part of planning your meals? People who plan are more likely to eat their recommended fruit and veggie intake than those who don’t. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Use a weekly meal planner like this one (click for the free download!)
Be thorough and detail your recipes and side dishes too
Make a grocery list with all the items you need
2. Store foods in the right places
Once you’ve done all the work from step one, you want to make sure that you store all of your fresh perishable foods in the right places so they keep fresh until needed. Here are some guidelines to help you store your proteins, veggies & fruit:
Refrigerate up to 1-2 days: Raw ground meat, Raw poultry, Raw seafood, Raw variety meats
Refrigerate up to 3-4 days: Raw roast, raw steaks, raw chops (beef, veal, lamb, pork)
Store in the fridge 3-5 days: Leftovers! Cooked meat, cooked poultry, cooked seafood.
Tip: If you’re only planning on cooking your meat in more days than what is recommended, then you need to freeze that meat right away. This is where your weekly planner comes in handy.
Fresh fruit & veggies
Fridge: Beets, berries, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, citrus fruit, cherries, corn, grapes, green beans, leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, radishes
Countertop: Apples (up to a week), avocados (move these to the fridge once they’re ready to slow the ripening), bananas, eggplant, peppers, stone fruit (nectarines, peaches, plums – until ripe, then in the fridge), tomatoes
Pantry: garlic, onions, potatoes, squash
3. Use what you buy
Let’s face it, things don’t turn out as planned. Whether you were invited to dinner or had too many leftovers, sometimes we just don’t eat all that we had planned, and sometimes we just forget what we purchased. To avoid wasting food for these reasons here are some tips:
Use clear containers for storing foods. Opaque ones can have you quickly forgetting what’s in them!
Hold a constant inventory of what you have on hand
Dedicate one meal per week to use-up leftovers
Be creative in repurposing leftovers. This will make your meal more interesting.
Not only does composting reduce the amount of garbage overflowing in landfills, it also produces this great fertilized soil – which helps cut down on chemical fertilizers – that can be used to grow more delicious foods! Only about 25% of people in Quebec compost their kitchen waste. Here’s how you can bring up those numbers:
Use roadside compost pick-up if provided in your area.
Invest in your own compost system at home. It’s simpler than you think …but more on this in another post!
Remember, you should use compost mostly for unusable kitchen scraps, such as onion peels, chicken bones, tea bags, etc. and for used napkins and tissues. It’s is NOT a free pass to throw out whole foods that have gone bad!
5. Donate what you don’t use
We tend to donate old clothes, books and furniture but we can do the same with food. Have food at home you won’t eat? There may be a family member or coworker you can give it away to. And if you’re stuck, don’t forget your local food bank. Check out this website for locations: http://www.banquesalimentaires.org/en/get-involved/food-donations/
There are many ways to cut down on your food waste and I hope these five tips inspire you to get started. Remember, every action step moves us towards change and it’s never too late to start making a difference.
Are you mindful of food waste in YOUR home? Which of these tips can you implement today?
By Stefanie Rosser RD