It used to be a rule at home – Clean your plates. We followed it as kids and very much continue to do so even today. By doing your part in controlling and reducing the food waste, you are minimizing your contribution to food waste. This is important in a country such as ours, where up to 40% of the food on our plate is wasted on an average basis. This translates to a pound of food down the trash, each day!
This is food that you could have had, or not even bought in the first place. The dent on the wallet is a whole other matter altogether – it is estimated that close to $2000 is wasted by a family of four, every year on food that goes to waste.
To make matters worse, neither you nor the environment had anything to gain from buying excessively and wasting food. Food makes up one of the largest landfill contributions and that is not all; once it decomposes it produces methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. The solution to beating food wastage is in each one of us. Nonetheless, how do you get started? Let us take a look.
Start With Your Fridge
The first step to wasting less food comes from realizing what you have in your kitchen. Have an idea of your inventory and the foods in your pantry. You can make use of numerous apps to keep track of the food items you have and the ones that are nearly finishing and needs to be refilled. There are even apps that suggest you plant-based recipes based on what you have.
Once you know what you have, and how much of it you have, organize the foods in the fridge so that foods that are closer to their expiration are kept closer to the door, and not buried and forgotten behind other foods.
The Expiry Date Is Not A Law
The labeling on the products can give valuable information. It will let you know the ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ dates. These hold plenty of value, and a consumer who understands these can benefit from it; there are plenty of foods that are good to be consumed even a few days after the expiry date is reached.
Different manufacturers have different date estimates as to when the product will get bad. The best way is to stick to the taste and smell test. If it smells and tastes like usual, then it probably is still fit for consumption. So the next time you see a product hit its expiry date, do the smell and taste test before you chuck it into the trash and pollute the one earth you have, more.
This not only helps you save food but also your valuable time. Making a note of the recipes that you will be cooking daily a week in advance helps. Based on the recipes that you have jotted down; check the plant-based foods and ingredients that you will be requiring. Once you know what these are, and how much of it you will need for each week then it is a cakewalk when you are at the supermarket, next time. Take only what you will be cooking for that immediate week.
Remember to make time for visiting the supermarket, once in every week. For this reason, take only what you will be using that week and nothing more. No more impulse buying!
Your Freezer Is Your Friend
Your freezer is a blessing in disguise. It is the nifty part of the fridge that will help you store and preserve the nutrients of foods that you may not have been able to use that week. Even many of the foods that end up turning bad can be used in soups, sauces, and smoothies.
If your bananas were to become overripe, then all you need to do is to cut them up and store them in a plastic bag, and then use it later for smoothies. You can do the same for onions, berries, and bell peppers. You can use this if you have had changes in your cooking plans and need well-preserved food to use.
Your Leftovers Aren’t Bad
Certain meals perform ‘double duty’. If you were to cook every meal of the week, then a good quarter of them would be excess of the food you cooked the day before. You can have them and save yourself needless effort after a long day, or re-flavor the dishes with condiments and mix them with other preparations. Cutting corners is completely fine when you are following a plant-based diet.
With these tips and tricks in mind, you are sure to be on the road to be a food waste warrior. Help fatten your wallet, and keep the environment safe while you are doing it!