This topic is short and sweet and to the point: reduce food waste! It’s such a pain when you’ve gone to the store, stocked up on all the goodies, then 1/3 of your food goes bad before you even get a chance to eat it. In fact, about 150,000 tons of food is thrown away daily in the United States (Milman, 2018). While some people are OK with throwing out food, there’s also a lot of people who feel like they are just throwing money in the trash. Reducing food waste is especially important if you are trying to meet your fitness goals while on a budget.
Write it Down!
Before you hit the grocery store, write down your grocery list. Plan for the amount of meals you plan to cook and how many snacks you’ll need to eat. Also consider how often that week you might eat out. Create your list based on meals as well as snacks that you’ll eat throughout the week. Sticking to your list will allow you to only buy the food you need and reduce the amount of food you’ll need to throw away as the week goes on. Before you go to the grocery store be sure to take stock of the food you already have in your home that needs to be eaten and shop accordingly.
Check the Date
Check the expiration date of foods you buy! Grocery stores will stock food in order of expiration – meaning the stuff that will expire soon is going to be the most convenient one to grab on the shelf. Taking a second to check the expiration date and ensure that the eggs you’re buying won’t go bad in two days. This tip can save you from tossing things before you get a chance to eat them.
Fresh is Good
When buying fruits and veggies you want the freshest options. Take some time to learn how to identify ripe fruit and vegetables. Additionally, in season fruits are going to be more cost friendly. There’s a reason strawberries are less expensive in the warm months! If you grocery shop once or twice a week it’s easy to make sure you can buy and eat your fruits and vegetables in a timely manner.
Frozen is Good, Too!
Now we’re not here to debate whether frozen foods are more plentiful in nutrients versus fresh. But if you grocery shop for a week or more at a time you may consider incorporating frozen fruits and veggies. Purchase your fresh fruits, veggies, and meats, and eat those first! When your fresh items are gone break out your frozen food. Frozen fruits, veggies, and meat can help limit the amount of trips you make to the store. The added benefit is that you can only take out of the freezer the specific amount you need.
Store It Right
Properly storing fruits and vegetables is important. Things like root vegetables (onions, potatoes) should be stored in a cool, dry, breathable place like a basket in the pantry. Other items like apples, tomatoes, avocados, and uncut tropical fruits can be stored out on the counter. Other items like cruciferous veggies, cut carrots, and berries can go in the refrigerator.
Made too Much?
Going beyond vegetable storage, what do you do with all of your cooked and prepped food? What happens if you prep 5 meals but only eat 3 and you have leftovers from eating out you want to snack on? Cue the freezer! In order to reduce food waste of pre-cooked meals, you can freeze *most* items that you prep. You can take each individual meal and throw it in a baggie, write the date on it, and save it for the next week. Just be sure to take your food out of the freezer the day before you need it. You can also freeze some meals in the containers they are already in if you’ve divided out your food already. Just be sure to be mindful of the date. These meals should be eaten sooner than later so they don’t accrue the dreaded freezer burn.
Milman, O. (2018, April 18). Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day – equal to a pound per person. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/18/americans-waste-food-fruit-vegetables-study