According to a recent survey, the average household creates about 1.28 pounds of daily waste, equal to 14 percent of the family’s food purchases. It’s bad enough that discarded items take up space in landfills. But rotting food also releases methane – a dangerous greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
However, that can be preventable. We can reduce food waste by being a little bit more careful with our shopping and eating habits.
Here, experts share some awesome tips that can help prevent food waste at home:
1. Watch Your Trash
For one week, take note of what’s in your trash. Don’t just look at it, but analyze everything that goes in the bin or down the disposal and change your habits if necessary. If you threw away half a box of stale cereal, either buy a smaller box or store cereal in an airtight container immediately after opening.
If week-old leftovers are still taking up real estate, prepare less next time or make a more conscious effort to eat the remainder.
2. Take Smaller Portions
Before you dish out another restaurant-sized portion at home, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate (or, for that matter, if you should). Since it’s unlikely you’ll save that piece of nibbled-on casserole, stick to smaller portions; you can always get seconds.
3. Reorganize the Fridge and Check Your Settings
Keep an orderly fridge, and you won’t push ingredients to the back and forget them. “Knowing what you have is more important than you think,” experts says.
In addition to cleaning out the fridge once a week, “setting your fridge at 39 degrees can help keep foods safe,” says Angela Fraser, associate professor at Clemson University. Studies show that the average person’s fridge tends to be too warm, encouraging faster spoilage.
4. Freeze Your Leftovers
Extra ingredients, like broth or tomato paste, can be frozen in ice cube trays to be used later as a base for sauces. If you have extra fruit, store it in the freezer, too. Make sure yours is set at zero degrees.
6. Shop More Often and Rethink Quantity
If you do one sweeping shopping trip per week, your fruits and veggies will go bad long before you have a chance to eat them. Do you never finish that full pound of turkey? Ask for five slices instead. Want pumpkin seeds for a muffin recipe? Scoop out the exact quantity from a bin instead of buying a whole package that will go rancid in your pantry.
Shop at the deli counter or in the bulk aisle so you can buy precisely what you need. According to a 2009 study from the Bulk Is Green Council, you can save an average of 35 percent by just buying what you need.
7. Learn Label Lingo
“Sell-by” or “use-by” dates don’t always mean “toss-by.” The sell-by date is the last recommended day you should buy a product in the store, but you can eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality.
“If stored properly, most foods stay fresh several days longer than the use-by date, even meat,” experts say. If you note any off odors, however, don’t risk it.
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