According to the US Department of Agriculture, approximately 30–40% of America’s food supply ends up as waste, which is a lot of waste! Another way of looking at that percentage according to the USDA research is approximately 133 BILLION pounds of waste per year — or around $161 billion dollars worth of wasted food.
But the damage doesn’t end there, unfortunately. The little leftover scraps and food you toss in the garbage end up in landfills — where they rot and decompose, omitting greenhouse gasses like methane and nitrous oxide the entire time. The best way to stop this from happening? Using up all of your food and not letting it go to waste.
So when Reddit user Hilaritytohorrorasked the question, “Any tips for minimizing food waste?” in r/ZeroWaste, I had a feeling some great tips would be suggested there.
They continued: “The majority of waste that I produce is food waste. I live alone, and work two jobs. Not a lot of time to cook, but I also am trying to fight the eating out battle for economic reasons. I’d like to minimize the amount of food that goes to waste in my house week to week due to me not having time to prepare it, but also avoid ready to eat meals due to plastic wastes. I have tried food prep, eating simple ‘rice and bean’ meals, and simply trying to go to the supermarket more often. Do I need to continue to try these techniques? Any other advice or tips or tricks I could use?”
Luckily, the community of people living their best low-waste lives responded with lots of answers. Here are some of the most helpful:
1.Cook with freezing food in mind.
2.Save your food scraps in a container and drop them off at your local composting site.
3.Figure out what you’re buying too much of and stop doing that.
“Every now and then it is ‘no grocery store week’. I make do with what we have, even if it means no fresh veg/fruit for the week. This week it was using up all the bread ends in the freezer for stuffing, the half container of ricotta cheese into pancakes, and the carrots languishing in the bottom of the fridge into pot roast.” —u/SLewis234489
7.Try making “modular meals.”
8.Keep your fresh fruits on the table so you’ll eat them, and others in the fridge to stay fresh for longer.
9.But if your fruit is almost bad, take your leftover citrus and turn it into candy.
10.Try eating the parts of a vegetable you’re not used to eating, like the stalks of broccoli.
“Think of it as word chain game. I’m imagining part of the food waste come from ingredients that you’ve used once and forgotten. Well, start thinking about the next recipes that make use of the leftover ingredients.” —u/smarty-0601
15.Dehydrate your food to preserve it for a longer amount of time.
16.Learn how to keep your herbs fresher for longer by keeping them in water.
“I love to make banana bread out of my overripe bananas but I don’t always have time to bake that soon, so I freeze them. When it comes time to bake, I thaw them out for maybe an hour, then they just squeeze right out of the peels and barely require any mashing at all. Sometimes a lot of liquid comes off them, so I’ll drain some of it, but so far it hasn’t negatively affected the texture of my resulting bread.” —u/Lankience
21.Turn your leftover lemons and limes into a cleaning spray.
22.Try meal planning.
23.And finally, you might want to commit to composting at home.
Answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.
What’s your best food waste hack? Let us know in the comments below!
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