Americans throw out about $162 billion worth of food each year — which is nearly 40% of the food we grow and prepare in the U.S. in a year. According to NPR, that’s enough to fill 44 skyscrapers. Considering that about 70 percent of our water and 50 percent of our land is devoted to agriculture, it’s better for our wallets and the environment if we limit our food waste.
We can also conserve energy and resources by curbing our waste. Pollution is created by growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food. For instance, the water it took to createyour hamburger patty is akin to a 90- minute shower. Wasted food also breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
With this in mind, here are some easy tips to help you waste less while saving more money:
- When you get back from the grocery store, freeze food such as bread, meat, or fruit that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
- You can also cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
- As for food that is already getting old, try tossing a mishmash of produce into a tortilla or in a pasta salad. Produce past its prime, like wilted lettuce, can still be sautéed or used in soups, casseroles, or stir fries too.
- By using preservation methods, you can freeze, pickle, jam, or can your extra produce so you can use them later.
- You can also buy the frozen versions of your produce.
- When you do have to waste food, you can compost food scraps in your garden.
- Check product dates on foods. Many dates on your food are not federally regulated, so take them with a grain of salt. You can still use a product after it’s “sell by” date, for instance, and the phrase “best if used by” is recommended for best flavor. But be more attentive and discriminative with the “used by” dates.
- Try moving older foods to the front of your fridge, pantry, or cupboard and the recently purchased ones to the back. Organizing your food products helps ensures you to use your older food before it spoils or expires.
- Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below to prolong the life of foods.
Involving kids in activities such as composting or canning fruits to preserve them is a great way to teach them about food and sustainability. Remember that even if you waste just a little less, it’s still an accomplishment!