The Impact of Food Waste: Part Two - Prevention
By: Samantha McCarthy MS, RD/LDN
Last week we had an unexpected break in between our nutrition tips due to one of three large snowstorms that knocked out power for many of us, including our beloved Cedardale facility. I hope by this point you have all recovered from the lack of power and mounds of snow! Two weeks ago we discussed the impacts of food waste on our bodies and environment. Food waste is something that we often don’t think about on a large scale. We notice the small things we throw out like old leftovers, rotting produce, expired foods, but we don’t think about the bigger picture: the millions of people around the world that do the same thing. I’d like to discuss how we can make small changes in our day-to-day activities that can significantly impact the amount of food we waste.
First off, food planning goes a long way. Not only does it help you stay healthy and focused, it can also prevent food waste. When planning your meals, start by working with what is already in your fridge. What needs to be used up first? What is expiring soon or about to go bad? Find recipes using those ingredients and make a list of any ingredients you don’t have but need for the meal.
Always make a grocery list and stick to it. It can be tempting to buy those marked down foods and sale items, but ask yourself, will you really use it before it goes bad? Buy only the amount of food that you know you will use in the next few days. No need to buy for an army when it justs 2-4 people in your household. Place items that spoil quickly in the front of your fridge so you see them and don’t forget about them. Also, make sure you are properly storing your produce so it lasts longer (something we will discuss next week in “Preventing Food Spoilage”).
When dealing with leftovers, get creative! And when in doubt, look up ideas online. You can transform many dinners into soups, salads, or sandwiches for lunch the next day. Be mindful when you are dining out as well. Keep portion size in mind and always take leftovers home with you for another meal. If it stays at the restaurant, it is wasted. Lastly, if you have an at home garden, consider composting food scraps for soil. It is a great way to reuse all of that vegetable and fruit waste you throw out.
Even small changes can make a big impact on not only the environment, but also your budget. Every time you throw out food, you are throwing out money. Plan accordingly for your meals to decrease food waste. Next week, we will discuss how to prevent food spoilage.
*Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month 2018 Presentation. https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/national-nutrition-month-celebration-toolkit