It could be the BOGO (buy-one, get-one) strawberries that molded before you used them, the super-sized package of lettuce you didn’t make into salads, the pizza you ordered instead of cooking the mushrooms you bought for a recipe or the doggie bag you didn’t eat.
According to the Food Waste Alliance, 44 percent of food waste is generated in homes and costs about $400 per person annually. That trash adds up. The Environmental Protection Agency says food loss is the single-largest component of municipal solid waste brought to landfills. As food waste decays it becomes a significant source of methane—a potent greenhouse gas.
Solving a world problem may seem daunting, but there are easy solutions to help keep your food out of the trash.
- Use a grocery list. This may be your best tool to keep you from buying more than you’ll use. It keeps you focused on the items you need and reduces impulse buying so food is less likely to go to waste.
- Shop your kitchen first. Ask, “What do I have on hand?” rather than, “What do I want to eat today?” Develop your menu or grocery list around these foods so you can plan uses for them to save time and money.
- Buy the right amount. If you need a cup of seldom-used bulgur for a recipe, shop the bulk bins. Buy that cup to reduce packaging and storing more bulgur than you need.
- Buy frozen foods. Less food is wasted when you buy frozen because it’s less perishable. Individually frozen fruits and vegetables allow you to use what you need, when you need it.
- Avoid cupboard castaways. Bring the older food to the front as you put groceries away. This first in, first out practice saves money when you keep tabs on the shelf life of food.
- Cook reasonable portions. Leftovers are great, but making too much food that doesn’t get eaten? Not so good. No sense feeding the trash can.
I love to make ‘best-overs’ from what I have on hand. In fact, here’s how I use leftover bread and pieces of cheese to make a sandwich that is likely not what you grew up with.
Not Your Mother’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Bread: Firm, hardy bread such as sourdough or ciabatta
- Cheese: A variety such as Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, Blue, Fontina, Feta, Brie
- Jam: Use what you have (plum, strawberry, apricot, pepper, fig, etc.)
Spread jam on one side of bread. Layer cheeses on top of jam. Top with second slice of bread. Spread outside piece with softened butter or mayonnaise. On an electric griddle or in a skillet, cook low and slow over medium-low heat until bread is toasted, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook another 4 minutes or so.
Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker, and author of Your Six-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being. Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day health solutions.