Waste Not Want Not: 10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

January 30th, 2012 § 0 comments

Since Johnathan Bloom’s book American Wasteland released last year, the issue of food waste in America is starting to get more attention and we couldn’t be more pleased. The movie DIVE! that we showed at the Blanton Museum during Hunger Action Month in September, explores the paradox between food waste and hunger in America. Food Network recently premiered a special called The Big Waste which challenged chefs Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli to create a multi-course gourmet banquet in 47 hours using only food destined for the trash heap. In the world of philanthropy and awareness, Austin-based, Halfsies provides restaurant-goers with the option to choose a healthier portion size reduce food waste and donate the cost of half their meal to help end hunger. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign provides U.K. consumers and businesses with money saving tips, safe food storage ideas, recipes and more.

Some quick facts on food waste in America:

Your support helps grocers donate, not dump food.

Our food bank has had a close connection with this issue for many years. Since 2007, we have prevented more than 19.6 million pounds of food from going to waste. CAFB’s Central Texas Food Rescue program provides grocers and wholesalers a safe and cost-effective way to donate tons of food and help nourish hungry Central Texans. Last fiscal year alone, our partners from H-E-B, Walmart, Whole Foods and other retailers donated more than 6.2 million pounds of fresh produce, meat, dairy, breads and other food items destined to the landfill or compost pile.

Food rescue isn’t just for big grocers. You can help, too.

Angela Henry, RD LD and Nutrition Education Manager for CAFB’s CHOICES nutrition education program put together these tips for you to use each day and help reduce food waste. With all the money you’ll save on feeding your family, consider using the extra cash to provide a meal to those who could use some help. Visit our virtual shopping cart and shop online today.

Ten ways you can waste less food:

  1. Plan before you go to the grocery store by making a shopping list. Get ideas from supermarket specials or coupons for what is on sale. You will not only get a better deal on some of the more expensive items on your list, but you can use this to get inspiration for menu planning.
  2. Check pantry and refrigerator shelves before heading to the store. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you need to buy.
  3. When buying fresh fruits and vegetables, buy in season to ensure fresh flavor, affordability and good nutrition. If you are not planning to use the produce within a couple of days, buy some that need more time to ripen.
  4. Choose canned fruits and vegetables if you think fresh fruits and vegetables may go bad before you can use them. Canned produce can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. Look for “low sodium” canned vegetables when possible. Look for fruits “canned in their own juice” for better nutrition
  5. Make foods easier to prepare by trying new ways to cook foods. For example, try using a slow cooker or crock-pot to cook stews or soups. Stews and soups are great ideas for using up ingredients! See Butternut Squash and Apple Soup recipe below.
  6. Do “batch cooking” when your food budget and time allow. For example, divide meals into family sized portions and freeze meals to use later in the month.
  7. Modify recipes based on ingredients you have on hand including leftovers.
  8. To avoid waste when cooking for one or two people, try a “planned over” idea. Planning for leftovers can use up ingredients to give you more than one meal. Try leftover chicken in a stir-fry or in a salad or make a chicken chili.
  9. Remember there is a limit to how long food can safely be kept. Temperature and time cause bacteria to grow, so it is important you do not keep leftovers too long. Also, use a refrigerator and freezer thermometer to track storage temperatures. Refrigerators should be 41°F or below. Freezers should be 0°F or below. When in doubt, toss it out!
  10. Buy only the amount you and your family will eat before food spoils. See attached chart, “Store It, Don’t Ignore It” for refrigerator/freezer storage chart.

Adapted from: choosemyplate.gov

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