Making strides to tackle food waste is a great investment–both for your wallet and the environment. The average U.S. household will throw away $1,500 worth of food every year. Not to mention the potent greenhouse gas emissions food emits when it rots in a landfill.
With these simple food waste solutions, you can start tackling this global issue right from your own kitchen!
5 Food Waste Solutions at Home
1. Avoid Over Purchasing
The best way to avoid sending your food to a landfill is by buying less of it! In the fight against food waste, change often starts by targeting the overproduction and purchasing that leads to excess food in the first place. Try building out a comprehensive shopping list or meal plan for the week before going grocery shopping to avoid any unnecessary purchases of perishables.
Overall, we should learn to not be afraid of an emptier fridge. The more food you can see when you open the fridge, the more likely you are to use it up!
2. Understand Your Expiration Dates
Many times, households throw away perfectly good (or perfectly repurposable) food based on misleading dates printed on the package. There are a number of dates that could appear on food packaging: “Sell By,” “Best By,” “Expires On,” and more. Often, it’s hard to differentiate whether the date you see is a “Sell By” or “Expires On.” Not to mention the fact that expiration dates are completely unstandardized across products.
All of this combined makes for a highly confusing, often wasteful, food appraisal process. The best rule of thumb to follow? Trust your gut. If your food smells rotten, it’s time to toss. And if you need something new to base your expiration dates on, try posting resources like the FDA’s “Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart” on the fridge for easy reference. Or download the FoodKeeper App on your phone for info and tools to help maximize the freshness of your food and drink items.
3. Try Frozen
Repeat after me: frozen is your friend. Oftentimes, there can be a stigma against frozen fruits or vegetables, with rumors that they hold less nutritional value or quality. In reality, frozen produce is the same as fresh produce–as it was likely flash-frozen right after being harvested.
The only difference? Frozen food keeps longer, and often retains more nutrients! Try freezing produce that is just about to go bad, or buy frozen from the start. Other foods that can be frozen to avoid spoilage include bread, meat, and soups.
4. Get Innovative
With the case of food gone bad (or on the brink of going bad), there’s always room to exercise a little creativity in the kitchen before making the decision to throw away. Here are some quick-hit ideas for preventing food waste in innovative ways:
- Take almost-bad food that you wouldn’t eat on its own and incorporate it into a recipe! Bananas, for example, are great in breads and smoothies. The same goes for fruits. Vegetables can go great in soups, casseroles, or stir-fry.
- Even “unusable” products can find a use. Stale bread, for example, can be seasoned and baked into croutons. Vegetable scraps can be made into stock for a later recipe. The list goes on!
- Identify the largest source of waste in your kitchen and work to implement a sustainable alternative. For example, are your plastic K-Cups and coffee grounds piling up in the trash? Try switching to a reusable K-Cup or brew your coffee in larger batches.
5. Composting Solutions
As hard as we work to rescue foods or prevent over-buying, food scraps in the home are all but inevitable. That’s where composting comes in. Compost is the process of decomposing organic matter, like food and paper products, to later act as soil.
There are a few ways you can compost at home, either through self-collection and drop-off, or hiring a service to pick up for you. A compost bin in your kitchen can host the majority of food waste you may already be throwing away on a daily basis, like coffee grounds, egg shells, fruits, vegetables, grains…even meat and bones!
For a deeper look into food waste processes and solutions, check out our “What is food waste?” video below.
At Rubicon, we use technology to ensure our customers’ food waste goes to the highest possible use in the Food Recovery Hierarchy–at the lowest possible cost. We have organics recycling capabilities throughout North America, serving customers large and small. If you are interested in Rubicon designing, implementing, and managing your organics food waste recycling program, contact us today!