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Home / Food

Eight ways to reduce food waste

 Food waste also results in a waste of money (Photo: Shutterstock)

Whenever I think of food wastage I remember, when I was growing up, being told that I shouldn’t waste food because there are children dying of hunger. While this still holds true to date, I’ve come to realize that hunger isn’t the only reason we shouldn’t waste food.

According to Healthline, food wastage contributes to climate change. Food that’s been thrown out ends up in landfills and produces methane gas while it rots. Methane gas is the second most common greenhouse gas.

Food waste also results in a waste of money.

Now that we’re all trying to do our best to save our environment, reduce waste and do good by starving children, reducing food waste needs to be top of our list. We eat multiple times a day. This means that you have multiple times in a day when you can waste food, either knowingly or unknowingly. 

Below are ways you can reduce food waste.

 Before you head to the grocery store make a list of what you need (Photo: Shutterstock)

1. Shop wisely

Before you head to the grocery store, or place your grocery order online, make a list of what you need and what you are sure you will eat. When you get to the grocery store, stick to your list and avoid buying into sales or offers or foods that look so good.

While shopping in bulk will save you time and money, when you don’t eat up all your food on time it ends up going bad and you have to throw it out. To avoid this, shop only when you have run out of food. This could even be twice a week. In this way you will be sure to eat all your food before it goes bad.

2. Declutter your fridge

It’s good to keep a well-stocked fridge. However, when your fridge is too full, you’re more likely to end up with food that has stayed there too long and gone bad thus, you have to throw it out.

To prevent this, shop wisely, buying only what you need. Keep a first in first out policy when stocking your fridge. Place fresher groceries behind the older ones so that you remember to eat older food first. Do the same for leftovers and food you have mealprepped. 

3. Have a designated day for leftovers

I often find that it’s very easy to forget about leftovers. I am very diligent about storing leftover food properly but then I don’t get to eat them on time such that they go bad and I have to throw them out. 

Having a day designated to eating leftovers will ensure that they are eaten in good time and they don’t get spoiled. 

Store leftovers in clear glass containers and not in opaque ones so that you can see them easily and remember that they’re there.

 There are many tutorials online on how to preserve foods (Photo: Shutterstock)

4. Preserve foods

Food preservation helps keep food edible for longer and reduce waste. Food preservation techniques include freezing, drying, pickling, fermenting, canning and curing. 

There are many tutorials online on how to preserve foods. Carrots, cabbages, cucumbers and onions can be pickled. Dry or salt meat to preserve it. Freeze vegetables that are overripe and use them for smoothies or when making soups.

5. Serve smaller portions

One way we often end up wasting food is when we serve too much and halfway through the meal we realise we’re too full to clear our plate.

Keep your serving portions within the healthy range and if you still feel unsatisfied, you can go for seconds. 

Should you find that you can’t finish the food you’ve served, put it in a storage container and refrigerate to eat later. No matter how little food you have leftover, avoid putting it in the trash.

6. Make stock

Many recipes of stews require some form of stock be it vegetable, beef or chicken. While you can buy these in the supermarket, you can opt to make your own homemade stock which will have less preservatives.

Use food scraps such as leftover vegetable bits and chicken and beef bones can be boiled in a pot with water and some salt, cooled and stored for future use.

 Many foods can still be eaten well past expiration dates (Photo: Shutterstock)

7. Understand expiration dates

Packaged foods come with sell by and best before dates which are meant to inform consumers and food sellers when food should be eaten by or sold respectively.

Many foods can still be eaten well past these dates but the flavour may be slightly altered. So before you throw out foods that have past their expiry dates, verify whether you can still eat it.

8. Store foods properly

Poor food storage can result in food ripening and getting spoiled faster. Once you have shopped, and when storing leftovers, ensure that you have stored food properly.

Learn which foods should be refrigerated and those that should be stored at room temperature. For instance, onions, garlic and potatoes shouldn’t be refrigerated.

Certain foods cannot be stored together as it can lead to premature spoilage. Store apples, green leafy vegetables, peppers away from bananas, tomatoes and avocados.

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