From making breakfast out of dinner leftovers to sniff taste testing products in your fridge, find out how you can avoid wasting so much food at home.
No dessert until you finish your vegetables. Don't you know there are starving kids in Africa? Oh, the parental admonitions levelled at an eight year old refusing to finish her plate. We heard them too and it’s taken two decades to understand that eating up our spinach is not just sound advice for Popeye wannabes.
What happens to our food waste?
We throw away 40 per cent of our food supply every year through restaurants, supermarkets or at home. That's a whole lot of rubbery oatmeal and wilted lettuce! And rotting food doesn't simply fill up space once it reaches the landfill. It continues to pollute, decomposing and releasing methane—a powerful greenhouse gas—long after you've tossed it.
Believe it or not, the food industry is wasteful itself. It doesn't make much business sense, but western countries such as Canada produce 200 per cent more food than we actually need. This abundance makes us take food for granted. There's that tub of yogurt with a mould farm growing on top or the mushy kale rotting in the crisper.
Why do we waste so much food?
Canada's growing curbside collection programs force us to confront our food waste problem, but scraps still get thrown away. Rather than using the food in our fridge, we go out for dinner. Or we might get seduced by a fancy new recipe and throw out yesterday's leftovers. Breaking bad habits means getting re-connected with your fridge and being creative in the kitchen while enjoying awesome perks like saving money and waste.
8 easy ways to avoid wasting food:
1. Bring a grocery list! You'll be less inclined to impulse buy.
2. Avoid buying flats of over-ripe strawberries or two-for-one yogurt tub deals. Unless you have an exact recipe in mind, much of this excess food will end up in the trash.
3. Revamp portion sizes by starting small and going back for seconds later.
4. Clean and cut up produce before putting it in the fridge—you're much more likely to use it this way.
5. If you buy meat in bulk, remove the original flimsy packaging and rewrap in plastic wrap and seal in a sturdy freezer bag.
6. Do the sniff taste test: Yogurt and eggs are often still edible past their best-before dates. Obey time stamps on cold cuts, sushi, chopped salad and soft or semi-soft cheeses.
7. With big-batch recipes, divide it up and freeze half for later.
8. Use blackened bananas in banana bread; mushy tomatoes in pasta sauce; stale bread in French toast or crushed into bread crumbs; potatoes turned into mashed used in shepherd's pie; leftover pasta in an omelet or strata; save cheese rinds to add to soup stock.