With sustainability living increasingly becoming the focus of virtually all areas of our lives, there’s been a spotlight on food waste recently. We explore below just how much food the average family in the US is throwing away every year, why this is happening, and what can be done to turn it around.
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So, How Much Food Is Getting Binned?
Are you ready? On average, a family in the US throws away 31% of the food it buys. Imagine: that’s the equivalent of coming home with nine bags of grocery shopping for the week and instantly putting three of those bags into the garbage.
As well as being bad for the planet, this trend is bad for our pockets, too. It means as well as throwing away a third of the food we buy; we’re wasting a third of the money we spend on the weekly shop.
Why Is This Happening?
To make a start at sorting out the issue of food waste in the home, it’s important to first understand why this is happening.
There are several reasons: firstly, there is often a misunderstanding around ‘best before’ dates, as opposed to ‘use by’ dates, which can result in food being thrown out that is perfectly safe to eat. Second, with so many of us leading busy lives, putting together meals from leftovers isn’t necessarily an easy or practical option. Overserving, in terms of portion size, also plays a large role, as does insufficient knowledge about which foods can be frozen, therefore sparing them from being binned.
Reasons to Stop Wasting Food
There are plenty of good reasons to take action today to minimize your food waste. It’s better for the environment, for a start, and if animal welfare is important to you, then it’s vital in this regard, too.
Food waste could also be costing you and your family literally thousands of unnecessary dollars every year, and with the general cost of living increasing ,have a look here for the most expensive supermarkets in the USA, saving money is even more important.
How to Minimize Your Food Waste
So, now we’ve had a look at the extent of the problem, and some of the reasons that it’s happening, let’s get to work thinking about some of the ways to resolve it and help the planet and our wallets along the way!
‘Use by’ concerns food safety, and food should not be consumed beyond this date (unless it’s been frozen). ‘Best before,’ however, relates to quality: so an item can be safely eaten beyond this date, although there may be some detriment to quality. For example, there is usually no need to throw away a loaf of bread that’s a day over its best before date unless it’s showing signs of mold growth, etc.
Get Clever With Leftovers
If you’ve got an excess of veg, consider whipping up a homemade soup or using it in a pasta bake; both of these options are quick, easy, and make for nutritious family meals. If you’ve got too many tomatoes, onions, and herbs, use these to whip up some bolognese sauce that can be frozen for an easy meal later in the week. Consider batch cooking and freezing other meals, using up leftovers where possible, for convenience and to save food waste,
Some unexpected items can also be frozen to prevent them from being discarded: for example, cooked bacon, raw garlic, onions, and some types of cheese can be safely stored in the freezer.
Be Portion Aware
Plating up oversized portions (a significant amount of which then goes in the bin) is something else that can be easily tackled to prevent food waste. One of the easiest ways to get on top of portion size is to use your plate itself as a guide when serving up. So: half of the plate should be taken up with veg or salad, a quarter with high-quality protein, such as fish, eggs, tofu, or meat, and a quarter should be filled with complex carbs, like whole grains. High-fat foods, including butter, cheese, and oil, should only account for half a tablespoon of the meal.
Have a Shopping Strategy
It’s widely known that doing the grocery shopping when we’re hungry is not a good move for the Average Family and makes us much more likely to succumb to the temptation of putting extra bits and pieces in our basket that we don’t really need. As well as avoiding this, making a meal plan and then creating a shopping list based on this is likely to serve you well, both in terms of reducing your weekly grocery spend and cutting back significantly on the amount of food you throw away.
Binning a Food Waste Habit
Use the handy tips above to start making the changes needed to curb your family’s food waste today. By using leftovers to create wholesome home-cooked meals and batch cooking some freezer-friendly favorites, you might well find that you’re spending less but are eating better than you ever have before!