Believe it or not, nowadays food waste is a huge problem. All of us, consumers, have a great impact on this. But also we can help to solve it by changing our habits related to food consumption. Yes, we have less and less time and usually do not have energy to think about what is sustainable and what is not. But, first of all, we should try not to waste food because of ourselves! To bring food to our tables, we have to work, go to the supermarket, take the food home then cook it. Isn’t it mere absurd to throw it away when we are putting that much time, efforts and money to get it? Here are 3 simple ways how to save money by reducing the food waste at home.
The best way to do it is to plan a menu for all the week and go to the supermarket with a shopping list. Let’s take a look at it: you spend about two hours per week for cooking plus time for shopping and that’s it, all food is prepared for all week? If this sounds cool for you, check this link in “Ant medines lenteles” blog, here you will find guidelines with recipes for how to prepare food for all week in 2 hours!
You can also check Amelija’s (amelijak) Instagram profile, where she is telling how to make a food menu for all the week. Before doing the menu she checks what she already has at home and what she needs to include in the menu, then leaves space in the plan for the leftovers, checks what kind of seasonal food she can find in the supermarkets that week and also what products have a discount and finally makes a shopping list. It takes 1-1,5 hours per week but her family spends 300 euros less than without planning!
If you have enough time for shopping and cooking few times per week just try to buy the exact amount of products which you need for a dish. Just because lettuce is on sale for an incredible price doesn’t mean you should buy 3 heads.
Remember, if you’re throwing food out, you’re throwing out your money. Usually we need to throw food away because we buy more than we need to make a dish or we buy more because of the good offer and think that we’re going to use it somehow. And finally we encounter that product in the fridge with nice furry friends on the top! So if it isn’t possible to buy the exact amount of product, we need to think what could be made from that extra. Plan, plan and one more time plan! And also don’t forget to check from time to time what is already in fridge, freezer or cabinets.
If you have some leftovers, vegetables or fruits which are in a bad condition – just use your creativity! You have overripe bananas? No problem, make a banana bread! Don’t want to cook? Then peel it, cut it and put in a freezer and when you want a desert take it out and make bananas ice-cream.
Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to preserve it – the types of food that are good for freezing are endless.
One more good way to use leftovers is to make smoothies. The ingredients can be various and it depends on what fruits or vegetables do you have but it’s always a good option – nutritious, healthy and you don’t need to waste food. You made feta salads for the dinner and have some extra feta? Then make feta smear! In the morning toast the bread, put some smear and tomatoes on the top and here is your breakfast.
I don’t have an option to compost since I am living in a flat. So every time when I take my trash out I see that the biggest part of it are peels and tips from the vegetables. I guess many think that there is no problem, it will collapse. But the truth is that food waste which ends in landfills excludes methane gases and generates greenhouse emissions. The conditions are unsuitable for composting in the landfills because food waste is mixed with other trashes and do not get enough oxygen to start decaying. Usually I make plant-based dishes so I have a lot of peels and tips. But I found a solution! Every time when I cook, I save those scraps and after freeze it after washing. I collect it until I decide to make a soup. Then I take out those vegetables residues and make a broth. First of all, I put it in a pot with water, then boil it and strain it – that’s it, homemade broth is done. Why buy when you can make your own? This is just a few examples of how to use leftovers in a creative way. Sometimes there is just one thing missing – turning on your fantasy, seeking out for new recipes or just checking your freezer!
Store your food properly
One more very common reason why food ends up in a trash can is because food products are stored improperly. This is the reason why we’re used to throw out vegetables and fruits. Here are few tips how to store vegetables, fruits and grits in a proper way:
- Most of the vegetables should be kept in the fridge drawer. The drawer helps to keep the vegetables as fresh as long as possible. So always put them in the drawer not on the inside of the fridge.
- Keep milk and other dairy items at the back of the fridge’s top shelf, where the temperature is more constant. That keeps them fresh longer.
- To keep cheese in a good condition, wrap it in waxed paper.
- Don’t use the handy egg-specific door storage. Store them in their carton, on a fridge shelf.
- Don’t store apples (and peaches) near most other uncovered fruits or vegetables — the ethylene gases produced by apples can ruin them (making carrots bitter, for example). The exception: if you want to ripen plums, pears and other fruits quickly, put an apple nearby for a day or so.
- Take the mushrooms out of the package and store in a paper bag in the fridge, or place on a tray and cover with a paper towel. If mushrooms got dry, wash it with cold water – they will be in a good condition again.
- Put onions in the old pants or socks, away from light and heat. This way of storing is also good for potatoes and garlics (pants are not necessary).
- Treat herbs as the flowers – put it in a jar or a cup with water.
- Radishes, carrots and celery, cut and put in any container with water after that keep in a fridge. It will stay fresh longer.
- Don’t store bread products in the fridge. Keep it on the cupboard in an airtight bag or other capacity.
- Spread out tomatoes on the counter out of direct sunlight for even ripening. After ripening, store stem side down in the refrigerator and they’ll last two to three days.
- Store oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit on the counter. They can last up to two weeks.
- After taking carrots, beetroots, turnip, parsnip or other root vegetables home cut out their roots, which are stealing the nutrients from the vegetables. Keep these vegetables in dark, dry place.
- Wash your lettuce and remove any damaged leaves, then dry thoroughly and put in the fridge after wrapping in a dry paper toweling. Replace the paper towel anytime it feels especially wet. If you think that your lettuce are already dead try to put it in the sink with cold water at first!
- Freeze the flour or other grits for at least 48 hours to kill off potential weevils or insect eggs in the flour and keep it in containers in a cabinet. Also, it’s good to put some bay leaves in the containers or cabinet. It repels insects.
Moreover, it’s very important to understand the difference between “use by” and “best before” term uses. Here is a picture, which explains the difference:
Use by vs Best before (source: https://savvyinsomerset.com/use-by-vs-best-before-end/)
“Use by” dates can be found on products such as dairy, eggs, fresh fish and meat. Best-before dates can be found on products such as grains, sweets, oils, coffee, tea, flour and spices. Food that has passed its best-before date is not unsafe to eat, but it may lose some of its flavour, texture and quality. By understanding the difference between term uses and proper storing the food can reduce food waste and save you money noticeably. Why should we throw away things for which is already paid?
By applying these 3 ways in our everyday life we can notice not only positive changes in our wallets, but also contribute in saving the planet! If you think that this is pointless because you’re alone in this war-for-sustainability, remember that all the biggest revolutions of the world started from just one man. Also think about this: we have 7 billion people in the world, so if every second or every third man would believe in idea to start from themselves, what a magnificent result we would accomplish! Most importantly, believe in yourself and then convince others to take their part in also.