Have you ever thought about how much food you or your family throws away? A national survey by the American Dairy Association Mideast found that 94% of Americans admit to throwing food away at home. Whether it’s because we over purchase groceries or grow tired of leftovers, food waste has become a common issue.
In fact, the average family will waste nearly a third of the food they buy, with the average person throwing away around 250 pounds of food each year. That’s like coming home with four bags of groceries and throwing one bag straight into the trash! Here are some tips to help ease the burden of food waste on both the environment and your wallet.
Organize Your Fridge
Rotate older food to the front so it’s not forgotten. Where you store certain foods can also affect how long they stay fresh. Yogurt should be tightly sealed and stored on the top shelf, while cheese should be stored in its own drawer because it absorbs other flavors easily. Most refrigerator doors seem to be made to hold a gallon of milk, but it will last longer on the bottom shelf where it will stay cold.
Find new ways to turn extra ingredients into new family favorites. Produce past its prime? Use it in soup, stir fry or a smoothie. Leftover whipping cream is great when folded into scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes. Plan weekly recipes with ingredients that can pull double duty – like a Monday night Skillet White Chicken Lasagna and a Wednesday night Honey Mustard Yogurt Chicken Skewers.
Move Perishables to the Freezer
If you can’t use it right away, freeze it. This goes for prepared leftovers, as well as items like milk and cheese. You can also portion out tablespoons of herbs or sauces in ice cube trays and pop one out to use in a recipe when you need it.
Understand what expiration dates mean on food you purchase. While it can be difficult to remember where and how to store every food, the USDA’s FoodKeeper app can help. It offers tips for how to store and cook more than 400 foods. It can even send alerts when food in your refrigerator is nearing the end of its recommended storage!