6 Smart Ways To Manage Food Waste At Home
Even though food is meant to be eaten, not every part of it gets consumed. Agricultural food products that are deemed subpar in quality or inedible are typically dumped straight into landfills.
What’s worse is even completely edible food gets thrown into landfills, especially those that do not pass the quality check of most groceries and factories. If you want to help lower the amount of food waste, the best place to start is in one’s home. After all, hundreds of households throw away food, either because they’ve gone bad or the owners decided they don’t like the food that much. To avoid that, below are six smart ways on how to manage food waste at home:
This is one of the most common ways to reduce food waste at home—and it still remains one of the most effective tips to date. You can add any type of food waste to compost. Overripe fruits and vegetables, excess peels, last night’s leftovers, moldy cheese, and even eggshells!
- Plan Ahead
Planning your meals is an effective way to manage how much food you’ll eat. It can help you stick to a tight budget as well. So, before heading out to the nearest grocery store, make a plan first. List down everything you want to eat from Monday to Sunday. Naturally, this list includes the ingredients you’ll use for each dish.
When it comes to fresh produce, just take what you can consume. Always refer back to your plan. If your meal plan is just for one week and you’re planning to have steamed vegetables for dinner on Wednesday and Thursday, then just get the appropriate amount you’ll need for those meals.
Markets and groceries will usually offer discounts if you buy items in bulk and even though you could get a good bargain on that, it’s best to avoid these deals if you want to reduce food waste at home.
- Store Your Food Properly
Knowing how to properly store food can guarantee its shelf life. Different types of food have different requirements in terms of storage, but these are not hard to remember. As long as you know how to properly seal and position each item, you can prevent your food from going bad too fast.
For example, meat should always be stored at the bottom to prevent leakage. Even though meats are sealed in an air-tight package, they could still leak fluids. If they are placed on the highest shelf, the leaked fluid can ruin the rest of the products underneath it. As for fruits, some of them give off natural gases that can speed up spoilage. Therefore, it’s recommended you store them separately, especially Bananas.
- Expiration Dates Have Some Leeway
It’s a normal reaction to immediately throw away any food product that’s already past expiration. However, if it only passed a day or two, it’s still fine to consume them. The dates only function as a rough estimate, and the range of ‘best before’ dates could vary from state to state (even though the food is packaged and processed at the same time).
Certain types of food can last days after their printed expiration dates. Milk, for example, is still good after a week if it was chilled properly in the refrigerator. Eggs can also last up to two weeks after their expiry date.
There’s also a difference between ‘best before,’ ‘best by,’ and ‘best if sold by.’ ‘Best by’ dates indicate that the food is not safe to eat, while ‘best before’ dates only mean that the quality of the food might not be the same as it was—but they are still safe to eat. ‘Best if sold by’ dates are typically addressed to store owners. It’s a guide as to when the items should be displayed or sold on their shelves.
If you’re unsure, you can always check the items yourself. If they smell bad or have some mold in them, then it is time to throw them away.
- Give It Another Shot
Even though you’ve already planned out your meals and your groceries for the week, there are still unexpected factors that can easily change your plans. Maybe you got invited to eat out by your friends. Or perhaps you spent the night over at someone’s place and ate your meals there.
If that’s the case, you will have more food than expected. Your leafy greens might begin to wilt, and your pastries could go stale. But before you go ahead and throw them out, you can still try reviving them.
For example, wilted leafy greens like Lettuce and Bok Choy can be dipped in cold water to make the leaves crisp. You may also peel away the wilted leaves and find fresher ones within them. As for brown Bananas, peel them and store them in the freezer. Overripe Bananas can still be used to make refreshing smoothies and delicious Banana bread.
- Reuse Peels
Fruits and vegetables that need to be peeled tend to have inedible outer layers. Since the goal is to minimize food waste, you might assume this will hinder you. However, there are some things you can do to ensure you still utilize peels one way or another.
Apple skin tends to taste much more acidic, so even though it’s supposedly healthy, it can be annoying to eat them alone. But instead of doing that, why not use it for tea? This way, you can enjoy a pleasant cup of tea while reading a good book.
Hard vegetable peels that are generally unpalatable, like Carrot and Cucumber skins, can be thrown into a pot of boiling water and turned into vegetable stock. You can then use the stock for other meals or dishes. As for Lemon and Orange peels, they can be used as a natural air freshener or mixed in homemade cleaners.
It’s a shame that perfectly edible food gets thrown out too early or has gone bad because no one bothered to consume them while they’re fresh. If you want to manage and reduce food waste at home, take note of the tips above and start implementing them one by one.