Type “food waste” into a Google News search and you’re sure to pull up dozens of recent articles explaining how more and more people—even local governments—are fighting to make the most of our food supply. The issue is fundamentally one of environmental protection because the food that arrives in our refrigerators and on our plates originates in many cases from a field.
If food is wasted, it means more fodder for landfills, which is bad for the environment. It also means resources that could have been used to feed people who are hungry fail to arrive at the appropriate destination. As many as 133 billion pounds of food go uneaten, releasing greenhouse gases, NPR notes.
The good news is each of us can take steps to prevent waste in our own homes. Here are five easy ideas your family can adopt right away.
Only buy what you’ll eat. Our eyes often are bigger than our stomachs, which translates to wasted food on our plates. Make a list before you visit the grocery store and stick to it.
Cook reasonable portions. When fixing a meal for yourself or your family, don’t go overboard on portion sizes. Pay attention to making a balanced meal with vegetables, grains, protein and fruits. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Eat leftovers. It might be tempting to turn your nose up at leftovers, but some of the best creativity in the kitchen happens when last night’s meal is turned into a tasty new creation today. Start a Pinterest board with recipe ideas or ask your friends for their best next-night dishes.
Start composting. A compost bin can be a great way to discard fruit and veggie scraps so they naturally break down outside of a landfill. Start one in your backyard and in time you’ll have rich soil to use for your home garden.
When in doubt, refrigerate. Your default setting should be to save leftovers in the fridge—at least for a night or two—even if you don’t return to them right away. Follow accepted food-safety rules on how long something can safely be kept, and avoid throwing any scraps in the trash immediately after a meal ends. This exercise will help you see just how much food you’re leaving untouched from one night to the next and could help you adjust your shopping habits or eating portions.