Reducing Food Waste In and Out of Your Home

If there’s anything I hate, it’s wasting food. Goodness. When I find old leftovers in the fridge that we’ve forgotten about, and it’s covered in mold and I have to toss it, I get so agitated with myself. I hear the voice of my mom in my head after she sat dinner in front of us and we wrinkled our noses: “Children in Africa are starving. EAT!”

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Americans spend an average of 9.7% of their income on food with 5% for food at home and 4.7% for food away from home. Unfortunately, Americans also waste a lot of food with consumers throwing away one pound per day or 225-290 pounds a year according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Decreasing the amount of food that is thrown away not only benefits your household budget, saving you money, but also helps the environment reducing methane emissions and conserving energy and resources.

Sustainability Goals at Home

Reducing food waste is a sustainable business model that is currently trending among restaurants and food establishments. It can also be replicated at home considering that around 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown out each year worldwide.  

If you are shopping for fruits and vegetables, look at the discounts sections where you can grab a good bargain whether it is a crooked zucchini or a discolored lemon. Buying organic foods is also a healthier option as they contain more nutrients and antioxidants even though they may look bizarre or come in different shapes and sizes. It goes without saying that you should only buy what you need. If you decide to buy in bulk, consider freezing them in portions.

Batch cooking is also an option allowing you to divide food in portions reducing waste while serving nutritious meals and saving time. Invest in a sous vide cooker and enjoy the benefits of sous-vide cooking. (Check out for tons of ideas along this line!) Reinventing leftovers is another solution to reduce waste. By making use of food leftovers, you get to experiment with different flavors and tastes giving your menu extra variety. 

Food Consumed Away from Home

Money spent on food eaten outside of the house continues to increase representing 54.4% of total food expenditures. The sad thing is when you eat at restaurants and the portions are huge, you are unable to finish everything that’s on your plate. Unless you ask for a doggy bag, the leftovers are thrown in the bin and end up in a landfill.

Besides carefully choosing what you order, asking to take home leftovers, and eating more often at home, you can also show you care by supporting restaurants that actively reduce waste. A Unilever study indicated that nearly 80% of US diners care about food waste and 47% are willing to spend extra money to eat at a dining place that reduces its waste. These establishments track their food inventory, optimize their shelf life, and repurpose ingredients.

Decreasing the amount of food that is not eaten and eventually thrown is possible by buying discounted fresh ingredients, repurposing leftovers, freezing, and eating more at home. It is good for your pockets, health, and the environment.

How do YOU keep a handle on your family’s food consumption?

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