There is a staggering amount of food waste in the US. On average 40% of all the food in America is thrown away! If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest polluter behind China and the US.
When food and other organic matter is trapped in a landfill it's unable to break down. Landfills aren't aerated properly for decomposition so the organic matter sits in a limbo state releasing methane.
Methane is 30x more powerful than your average greenhouse gas so one of the best things you can do for the environment is compost!
I wrote a huge blog post all about composting if you're looking for tips on how to get started.
But, before we even get to composting, we should make sure that we're not throwing out food.
1. Make a Plan:
Meal planning isn't a ton of fun, and it normally doesn't work that well. Instead of sitting down to make a full meal plan, just open up your fridge and take stock of what needs to be eaten first.
Got a head of lettuce you bought last week? What about a leftover stalk of broccoli?
Pick out two meals that you can make to use that produce up first!
Maybe you want to make a broccoli and cheese soup and a side salad. Buy the missing ingredients and use them to make your first meal!
Then, think about what those leftover ingredients could make. Pick out 3-4 meals that coordinate with each other and within five minutes you have a "meal plan" that allows for flexibility and prevents food waste.
2. Make a List:
Make a list and stick to it! When you're thinking about you meal plan, jot those ingredients down.
When you have a list, you won't forget items and you'll avoid impulse buys.
When you get home take a few minutes to get things prepped. Make sure everything is put away nicely in the fridge.
Make sure fruits and veggies are at eye level so people in the household are more likely to snack on blueberries and strawberries instead of a granola bar.
You want fresh food eaten first because A. it's healthier and B. it spoils WAY faster.
4. Store Produce Properly:
Another easy way to cut back on food waste is to make sure that you're storing your produce properly.
A few tips and tricks - carrots and celery LOVE to be submerged in water. Cut your carrots into sticks and place them in a mason jar of water. They'll stay crunch for weeks. WEEKS!
Store lettuce in an air tight container like a mixing bowl with a lid. Add in a small cloth napkin to absorb any rogue moisture and your greens will stay crispy for 2-3 weeks.
5. Chop Once, Cook Twice:
When you're making dinner and you're chopping half and onion for a recipe, go ahead and chop the whole onion. It will save you time in the long run.
You're already there chopping the onion. Take 30 more seconds to finish the job.
When you chop all of your ingredients at once, you can get meals quickly on the table. Plus, you're way less likely to waste food because it's so simple to grab what you need.
6. Eat Leftovers:
Make sure that you're eating your leftovers! Pack your leftovers for lunch or find new ways of incorporating them.
For instance, if I have a side of leftover rice maybe I'll use it to make fried rice the next day. Or if I have a side of butternut squash and beets I'll add it to a galette.
7. Use You Scraps:
Make sure that you're using your scraps! Chicken bones can be turned into stock. Carrot tops make an awesome carrot top pesto. Beet greens are delicious sautéed!
Get creative and don't let any good food go to waste!