According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, at a time when one in six Americans is food insecure, 40% of the food in the U.S. is lost somewhere from farm to landfill. Food waste is the number one component in our nation’s landfills, and costs American families $165 billion each year.
Food: Too Good To Waste (FTGTW) is a program to help residents reduce the amount of food that becomes inedible in their homes, before it can be eaten. We can all make simple changes at home to dramatically reduce the amount of food we have to throw out (or even compost). The following has been adapted from http://westcoastclimateforum.com/food/wasteless:
Four Smart Strategies to Implement:
1. Smart Shopping: Buy What You Need. By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money, time, and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.
- DOWNLOAD THE FTGTW SHOPPING LIST TOOL TO THE LEFT
- Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home and the timing of your next shopping trip. Will you eat out this week? Be realistic
- Shop your fridge and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have.
- Include quantities on your shopping list to avoid overbuying. For fresh items, note how many meals you’ll make with each. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches.
- Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often so you waste less while enjoying fresher ingredients.
- Choose loose fruit and vegetables over pre-packaged produce to better control the quantity you need and to ensure fresher ingredients.
- Keep a running list of meals that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose a meal to prepare.
- Don’t think you have time for meal planning and lists? Try these free mobile apps and web-based tools to make it easier.
2. Smart Storage: Keep Fruits and Vegetables Fresh. We waste fresh fruits and vegetable most often. We usually overbuy or don’t use them in time. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.
- DOWNLOAD THE FTGTW STORAGE GUIDE TO THE LEFT
- Learn which fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer inside or outside the fridge.
- Learn the best way to organize things in your fridge: http://tinyurl.com/p3a2dy6
- Use online storage guides for all types of food.
- Try using storage bags or containers designed to help extend the life of your produce.
- Use your freezer – if you can’t eat a food in time, you can often freeze it for later:
- Separate very ripe fruit from fruit that isn’t as ripe. Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other produce spoil faster.
- Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes separately, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Wash berries just before eating to prevent mold.
- If you like your fruit at room temperature, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning.
- Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, sauces, pies or smoothies.
3. Smart Prep: Prep now, eat later. Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.
- When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
- Befriend your freezer and visit it often. Freeze food t be able to eat in time.
- Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
- Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.
4. Smart Saving: Eat what you buy. Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.
- DOWNLOAD THE FTGTW "EAT ME FIRST" PROMPT TO THE LEFT
- Move food that’s likely to spoil soon to the front of a shelf or designated “eat now” area.
- Casseroles, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers and odds and ends. Search for websites that provide suggestions for using leftover ingredients.
- Make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
- Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Store them in lunch-sized portions so they are ready to go the following morning and/or plan an "eat the leftovers" or “smorgasbord” night each week.
- Share food you won’t get around to eating with friends or neighbors before heading out of town.
- Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
Take your food storage to the next level! The University of RI offers guidelines and hands-on workshops on proper canning, freezing, and drying methods. Find out more at http://web.uri.edu/foodsafety/foodpreservation/.