It takes a lot of water, energy and transportation to get food to our plates, yet we trash 40 percent of the food in the U.S.
Food is the single largest component of trash in Minnesota. In Carver County, household trash usually ends up in a landfill where the food rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Save money and resources by buying only what you need and using what you buy.
What you can do
By implementing one, or all, of the tools listed below, you can reduce your food waste, save money and conserve our natural resources.
Feed your guests – not your trash can
Bountiful holiday meals bring us together, sometimes at the expense of our trash cans. Planning a meal for a large group is tricky. Save the Food built a dinner party planning calculator to help you figure out how much to make – including extra for leftovers.
Tell the Guest-imator how many eaters are showing up to dinner, how much leftovers you want, what kind of menu you’re thinking about and voila. You have a menu that feeds everyone and won’t break the bank.
Take a deeper look
Start paying attention to the food you toss in the garbage. Keep track of any food that gets thrown out for a few weeks or a month to understand the foods that don’t get eaten.
Before going shopping, think about how many meals will be eaten at home in the upcoming week, including lunches. See what items you have in the fridge and cupboards first and plan meals around what is on hand.
- Make a plan for the week taking note of the quantity needed to avoid over purchasing.
- Buy fruits and vegetables sold loose and only buy what is needed. For example, take four bananas instead of six.
- Buy what you need. Buying large amount of a product is not a good deal if it ends up in the trash.
- Check out the discount section in the produce department. Fruits and vegetables might not look perfect, but they taste just as good.
- Know the difference between "sell by" and "use by" dates.
Prep now, cook later
Prepping some or all of your food for the week as soon as you get back from the grocery store will increase the likelihood of food being seen and eaten as well as saving time later on.
- Wash, chop, slice, dry and store produce that will be used for the next few days. Freeze extras that you might not use right away.
- When preparing meals, only cook the amount needed for that one meal if you do not think the leftovers will be eaten.
- Cook large batches of meat upfront and freeze individual portions for later. Consider cooking and freezing large quantities of chicken breasts or hamburger to use in a variety of recipes.
- Use online resources like BigOven or Allrecipes to search recipes by ingredient. You can also make easy-to-use shopping lists with Allrecipes.
Know how to store
Storing different foods in ways that prolong their life can dramatically reduce food waste.
- Learn the best ways to store produce to extend its shelf life.
- Freeze any foods not eaten right away. When freezing, it is best to use air-tight containers that minimize the food’s exposure to air. Clearly label and date containers.
- Don’t forget what you have. Use a kitchen inventory sheet to remember what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry.
Eat what you buy
All this planning, shopping and prepping is useless if the food doesn’t get eaten. Pay attention to behaviors that encourage you and your family to eat what you have.
- Move food that should be eaten soon to a designated area in the fridge, and use those ingredients first. Print out a "Use this first!” sign to label your new shelf.
- There are great websites to help breathe new life into leftover ingredients. Hot dishes, soups, smoothies, frittatas, burritos and potpies are all easy delicious ways to repurpose leftovers. Sharing leftovers with friends or coworkers is also a great way to use it up.