The Environmental Protection Agency states that "every year in the United States, approximately 31% (133 billion pounds) of the overall food supply is wasted, which impacts food security, resource conservation, and contributes to the 18% of total U.S. methane emissions that come from landfills. Reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfills can help ease the impact of climate change and also put food in the mouths of millions of people."
What are some ways we can help reduce the amount of food we waste and also save some money while we're at it?
Shop often/buy less
Whenever possible going to the grocery store a couple of times a week as opposed to once every couple weeks will reduce your food waste. Buying massive amounts of food can clutter your fridge causing items to be overlooked and forgotten, left to spoil and be thrown out weeks later.While maybe not ideal, especially with small children in tow, multiple grocery runs will allow you to purchase only the things you need and use as well as keep your fridge clutter-free.
Use by Date
There's an old saying, "when in doubt, throw it out." While that might be a good rule of thumb when it comes to milk and deli meats, it's important to remember that Sell by Dates and Expiration Dates are meant to represent the products "peak" quality time. It doesn't say that it's not safe to eat after the date. Use your best judgment when it comes to throwing out these products.
Sometimes what we think we'll be able to cook on the weekend doesn't line up with life during the week. Making paella on Wednesday might sound good while you're shopping for groceries on a Saturday but good luck trying to fit that in between the kids' soccer and taekwondo practice. Being realistic about your busy life means you're going to need something quicker on those hectic days. Remember, there's no shame in "Breakfast for Dinner" nights.
There's an App for that
We live in a magical world where there is an app for just about everything. That includes making a list. A simple list app allows you to keep track of what you need and remind you of what you don't need. Creating and following a list is also a great way to keep down the impulse buying that can lead to food waste.
Wrap it, Blend it, Compost it
There are many ways to use little bits of this or that instead of throwing them out. Old vegetables can be chopped up and added to an omelet or wrapped into a tortilla. Blend extra fruits and veggies into your morning smoothie or add them to your water for a refreshing boost. And if you have space, starting a compost bin is a great way to get rid of old fruits and vegetables instead of throwing them in the trash.
The above bullet points are just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce) of ways one can reduce food waste. Here at Blue KC, we understand that nutritious food is key to a healthy community. Today more than 350,000 people in Kansas City don't know where their next meal will come from. That's why we've launched Well Stocked; a new Blue KC initiative focused on bringing local partners together to increase awareness of hunger issues facing underserved areas in Kansas City.