4 ways to save $$ by Reducing Food Waste

I went to the Food Tank Conference in San Diego a couple of weeks ago, and I learned a lot about our food system, how it impacts not only farmers, but also restaurant workers, grocery stores, and eventually consumers and the American people. There is so much confusion around what labels mean, where food is sourced, and how it is produced. But I was particularly affected by this statistic:

“40% of food produced in the US ends up in landfills”[1]

This means that over $165 billion dollars total or 20lbs of food per person is wasted each year by Americans throwing out or leaving behind perfectly edible food. Seafood, grain products, and fresh fruits and vegetables are the most frequent victims of the land fill. This is a time when 1 in 6 Americans are suffering from food insecurity and do not have the ability to feed themselves or their families adequately. How is this possible when we are wasting so much?

While we know that restaurants and retail with big portions and excessive amounts of perishable foods, I want to focus on a couple of things WE can do as consumers to save money.

American families could save between $1,365-$2,275 annually[2] by reducing the amount of food they throw away! A couple of reasons this waste happens are because of food spoilage (due to improper storage or label confusion) or when people cook too much and end up tossing what is left over. To reduce your food waste consider:

1.       Ignoring the Use by and best by dates. Research shows that date labeling is just suggested by the manufacturer and is not regulated by any government body. Use the sniff test (you will KNOW when the milk is off) and check your food for mold.

2.       Know how to properly store your fruits and veggies. This could help prolong the life of your produce and help it last longer in the fridge. Use this website as a reference: https://savethefood.com/storage -I like to use reusable beeswax wraps, silicon bags, and glass Tupperware (all on Amazon) so that I am not constantly throwing away plastic wrap or bags.

3.       Plan meals ahead of time, so that you have a plan to use up all the produce in your fridge. Any soft or limp produce can be frozen for soups or smoothies.

4.       Repurpose your leftovers! Keep things exciting by changing up how you are serving your meals. If you made a big pot of rice, have it burrito bowl style one day and use it for fried rice another day!

Your freezer can be your friend! If you are worried about not using all your produce, buy more frozen food, it is as nutritious as the real thing. Email me if you want to learn more about how to make some delicious meals using frozen foods at livefullywithsalima@gmail.com.

[1] https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf

[2] https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf

Salima Mangalji