Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize. An apple core or leftover slice of pizza thrown away here or there doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal. However, all of that food adds up.
The average household throws away about 32% of the food that it buys, according to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. That roughly translates to about $1,500 wasted each year for a family of four, not to mention the larger environmental effects when all of that food winds up in landfills and releases harmful methane emissions.
Of course, reducing food waste starts with only buying as much food as you know you will eat each week, but that can be easier said than done. Another useful strategy is keeping a food waste log.
You can attach this log to your refrigerator or put it on your kitchen counter. Every time you throw something away, you note what you threw away, why you threw it away and how much it may have cost.
Ideally, over time, you can become more aware of how much food you’re throwing away and hopefully take steps to fix it.
To reduce food waste, you should also make sure that you’re storing your food smartly so as to keep it fresh for the maximum amount of time possible. For example, you should remove the green tops of your carrots when storing them since these tops tend to suck the moisture from the carrot. Or, as another example, you should store celery in foil, not plastic, so as to keep it crisp for longer.
Check out this food saver cheat sheet with storage tips for more than 20 common foods.
Finally, you should think about the “best by” dates on the products you buy from the store. In the vast majority of cases, these dates are simply suggestions, not requirements. That means that you can eat many foods past their listed dates.
For example, ketchup and mustard often last six months to a year past their stated expiration dates. Meanwhile, peanut butter can last up to eight months past its listed date, and yogurt can last up to three weeks past its date. Attach this printable resource to your refrigerator to remind yourself of how long common foods last.
According to the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, even the least wasteful American households throw away 9% of their food. Reduce your waste with these printable food waste resources.
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