Are You Wasting Food? Here's How to Stretch Your Grocery Haul Further
By: Sarah L., RDN, LD
Our weekly grocery trip is full of opportunities to make healthy choices, discover new foods and simplify our lives with meal planning. During this global pandemic, we are all doing our best to stay at home and limit our trips out of the house. Fewer grocery trips, coupled with the anxiety brought on by the uncertainty of the times, may lead us to buy more food than usual during our trip. Even with the best intentions to eat healthier and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, sometimes we fall short of our goals. And more often than not, these fresh foods go to waste.
Food waste may seem inevitable, but there are steps we can take to reduce, and ideally, eliminate our food waste. It may take some creativity, but your health and your wallet will thank you! First, let's start with some facts to get us motivated:
- An average American family of four loses approximately $1500 every year due to food waste.
- 28% of the world's agricultural land—an area larger than Canada—is used to grow food that never gets eaten.
- Food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills.
So, how can you begin to reverse these statistics, while also helping your grocery haul last longer and work harder? Here are some helpful tips.
1) Save your scraps. One of the most common sources of food waste is unused scraps from fruits and vegetables. Don’t automatically scrap these pieces; instead, use them in new and creative ways. Bake the peels of apples with a pinch of cinnamon for a naturally-sweetened, crunchy snack. When juicing fruits and vegetables, freeze the pulp and add to smoothies for extra fiber. Utilize scraps from vegetables to make homemade chicken or vegetable stock. And, a favorite tactic during quarantine, use over-ripened bananas to make fresh and nourishing banana bread.
2) Get creative with food combinations. Have you ever been left with a random assortment of vegetables in your fridge? While it may take longer to use each of them separately, causing some of them to spoil, a better strategy is to combine them in dishes where their flavors can complement one another. Vegetable soups, veggie and grain bowls, and stir-frys are all excellent options to add to your weekly recipe rotation in order to avoid vegetable waste.
3) Compost it! Have you ever tried composting? It might sound like a daunting task, but once you start, you’ll be glad you did. You can compost a variety of foods, everything from eggshells and coffee grounds to moldy fruits and old banana peels. Composting creates a nutrient-rich soil that can be used to nourish your next crop of fruits and veggies; it’s a true 360 degree approach to sustainability!
Remember, food doesn't need end up in the trash. Improve your health, your budget, and the world we live in by reducing food waste one step at a time.