Food waste continues to be a major problem among us. Not only is it costing us money, but its impact on our environment is damaging. But why do we have so much food waste? Our poor shopping habits are likely to blame. Find out how we can do our part and cut down on food waste.
One of our poor shopping habits is the allure of bulk purchases. It’s hard to resist buying in bulk. Often times the prices are lower and it saves us trips to the store. Unfortunately, we overestimate our abilities, and the food often goes to waste. While we appreciate the immediate savings, it ends up costing us more in the long run.
But bulk purchases aren’t all bad. There are things better suited to buy in bulk, while other items would be better purchased in smaller quantities more frequently. Buying in bulk is more beneficial to full households rather than single dwellers, simply because there are more mouths to feed. Also when buying in bulk, or grocery shopping in general, be aware of the shelf life. If possible, opt for the items with the longest shelf life, which will give you more time to consume your purchases. Things like dry rice, beans, pasta, cereal, or oatmeal are better to buy in bulk as they don’t require refrigeration and tend to keep longer. On the other hand, things like nuts, spices, produce, and other items you don’t have room to store should be bought on an as needed basis.
Keep Track At Home
Other ways to cut down on your food waste include improving your shopping habits and learning to work with what you have. Refine your cooking skills by signing up for a cooking class, where you can learn far more than just new recipes and techniques. You may be able to learn about food safety, portion sizes, shopping tips and ideas for leftovers. Or you can try your luck at home and search the Internet for video tutorials or recipes.
Keeping a food diary can help you better understand your eating habits. Take note of what you eat, at home or dining out, what you buy, and what you throw out. Soon you will be able to adjust your purchases so that you shop more purposefully.
Buy Fresh, Buy Often
Shopping more frequently may pose as an inconvenience, but will help you significantly cut down on your waste. Fruits, vegetables, and breads typically last about 2-4 days. If you don’t plan on using these by the fourth day, consider freezing them until you’re ready to use them.
Having a better grasp on expiration dates will prevent you from throwing out your food too soon, out of fear of uncertainty. The sell-by date is generally used to indicate the freshness of a product, but is not an ultimate consume-by date. Depending on the product and how it is stored, foods can still be viable to eat anywhere from days to weeks after its “best before” dates.
Yes, it is confusing, but luckily, the Internet is at your fingertips and you can do your own research to see how long you can or should keep certain foods. Or you can go with your gut and use your best judgment based on smells or looks.
If you store smarter, you can prolong the shelf life of your foods. For example, the crisper drawer is where most of us store our produce. Unfortunately, this may not be the best idea. Certain fruits and vegetables require different humidity settings, and, as the old adage goes, out of sight, out of mind. If your produce is ripe, keep it within sight so that you don’t forget about them.
Organizing your refrigerator can greatly reduce your food waste. The warmest part of your refrigerator is the top shelf, and the temperature lowers as you go down, making the bottom shelf the coldest. Prepared food, yogurt, cheese and sauces fare well on the top shelf, while your properly sealed (to avoid cross contamination) meats, fish and poultry are better off on the bottom shelf.
Reserve your crisper drawer for more delicate vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, and leafy veggies. Fruits may be stored here, but most are better stored on a shelf or cool counter (ex. apples, apricots, nectarines). Strawberries and cherries are best kept in an airtight container on a refrigerator shelf.
Do you have any shopping, cooking, or storage tips to reduce food waste? Share them with us and your peers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn. You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.
If you’re looking for the best fresh, natural, and just plain yummy sandwiches in Pomona, visit us at the Brick Market & Deli – Your Neighborhood Deli. We’re located on the northwest corner of Arrow Hwy and Garey Ave, open weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm.