It's no secret that food waste is a huge problem. It is estimated that around 58% of food produced in Canada is wasted and around 40% of food the average person brings home goes to the bin. This is a staggering number especially considering that over 4 million Canadians live with food insecurity.
The problem does not solely lie on us as consumers. Much of our food produced is disposed of before we ever see it due to imperfections. Everyone wants a perfectly round tomato and straight as an arrow cucumber. If you have a garden, you will know that you will often find yourself with three legged carrots and other strange shaped vegetables. They taste just the same but a grocery store can't sell these.
So, what can be done? After all most of don't intend to spend our money on food just to throw it away. We often have good intentions of making things that don't fit into our busy week. Our grocery store shelves provide us with so many choices and storing up food is a part of our human nature. It's survival instinct.
While we can't change the food waste occurs before it even reaches the shelves, we can change the way we do things in our own lives. While the pleasure of food is a great blessing, I think switching our mindset a little more from live to eat to eat to live is a good start. Like so many areas of life, I believe that balance and a decided directions are so important. We are fortunate in North America to be afforded the luxury of choice in many areas of life. Unfortunately, it's easy for us to be wasteful because of this.
Here are some ways to work on food waste at home
Use your freezer
Your freezer is a great way to extend the life of most foods. Regularly look through your fridge and freeze things that you won't get to cooking soon.
Who doesn't love a good bowl of soup? This is the perfect way to use up bits and pieces or not much life left kind of foods. Freeze soup in containers for busy weeknights.
I guess this one is obvious but I think it's so easy to buy more than we need. Make a list when you go shopping and stick to it. Having too much food in your fridge makes it hard to find things and containers just keep getting pushed to the back until they meet the compost pile.
Planning to eat a more simple menu will save you time and money. Many of us are very busy and don't have the time for elaborate meals or maybe just don't love cooking. Paring meals down to the basics will usually have you eating healthier and will shorten you grocery list.
Buy seasonal foods
Eating seasonally is awesome! It's how people have eaten for thousands of years and it's still great. Seasonal foods are often cheaper and if you like canning it's a great way to preserve an abundance of food for a later date.
Turning your leftovers into a new meal is a good way to ensure they won't sit in the fridge for the week and eventually get chucked. Get creative and you'll be surprised at what a great meal can come out of bits and pieces in you fridge or pantry.
Keep your fridge organized
Keeping an organized fridge is sometimes a battle when you have a family but it goes a long way in food waste reduction. You know what you have and can find it.
Proper food storage
Having the right containers, wraps and bags to store food in is essential for extending the life of your food. Beeswax wraps are great for doing exactly this. When you store food in plastics they can't breathe, get slimy and rot. Setting yourself up with the right tools is always important for a low waste lifestyle. Mason jars, cloth bags or containers are all great to have on hand.
There are so many things that you can pickle and it's a great way to preserve food that you might not use up soon enough. Don't let canning scare you, it's really quite easy and you'll be rewarded with pretty jars full of goodness.
Don't rely too heavily on best before dates
Best before dates on foods is more for stores to keep track of things than a definite date you need to use something by. Now it does depend on what we are talking about but there are many things that are still fine to use a bit past there best before dates. Often food a little past their prime are great for cooking and baking.
Take home restaurant leftovers
Restaurants are a huge source of food waste. My mom owns a restaurant and it is unbelievable how often people do not take home large quantities of their purchased meal. I have witnessed countless plates of food tossed without a thought because people don't take home their leftovers. Ask for a container or better yet, bring one.
Your last resorts- Feed your pet or compost
While not everything is suitable for your furry friends, there are lots of foods that are safe and your pet would love to be treated to. Realistically there will always be some things that don't get used up from time to time. The compost pile is the place for this not your garbage can.
Hopefully this list encourages you to take some steps in reducing food waste. If we all do our part, it can make a difference.