Earth, what a beautiful place we are blessed to live. Not only to live however, but to take care of in all of its wondrous glory. This Earth Day I would like to share with you some tips & tricks to combat one of the ways us humans can improve how we are taking care of our planet … Food Waste.
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
The USDA reports that 30-40% of our food supply results in food waste in the United States. Food waste is the SINGLE LARGEST component to make up our landfills, in turn producing devastating amount of methane which contributes to greenhouse gasses and the global climate change. Yet 1 in 8 American families struggle with food insecurity. And a final stat for you, an average family of 4 loses around $1,500 a year on wasted food (savethefood.com)
While I share these startling and disturbing statistics with you, I do also bring some news of hope! There are things you can do right in your home to help with this major source of pollution in our world. Whether you are single, a party of 2, or feeding a large family, I have tips for you to help not only our food waste problem, but ALSO put some money back in your pocket.
First tip: Have an At-Home Menu Plan
Whether it be in your phone, on a chalk board, or on your calendar on the fridge, having an at-home menu plan for the week helps decrease food waste, your grocery store spending, keeps your health goals on track, and makes life a little less stressful at the store. Below I have picture two of my materials that I hand out to my clients.
First is a simple weekly chart for each meal of the day. I have them fill it out in its entirety, even if breakfast looks the same M-F. Next is a grocery store list with each category of food listed. This list is built directly off of your at home menu plan.
Take inventory of what ingredients you have at home already. Then go through each meal and write down what you will need. Put only the foods and quantities needed for all of the week’s meals.
Time to head to the store! Get what you need, shopping directly off of your list. If there is a special on a particular item that you feel confident can fit into your week’s plan, I say go for it. But be mindful of your budget and weekly goals.
The great part about doing these lists and plans in a savable format is that you can file them away to use on a later date. Just coming home from vacation and need to get your weekly groceries but have NO time to plan, grab one from a couple weeks ago. I guarantee that with healthy, planned choices your life will be improved on multiple levels and waste will be reduced!
Second tip: Love Your Leftovers!
I was very fortunate to grow up in a family of amazing cooks. We mostly ate at home and racked up our fair share of leftovers. Hence my Noonie’s coined term: MUST-GOES. Around one night a week it was Must-Goes night were everything… yup you guess it… MUST GO. All leftovers hit the table heated and ready to be eaten. This was a fun night with a variety of yummy foods that didn’t necessarily go together in a traditional sense, but we tasty to say the least.
If you know that some of the meals you have planned make a large quantity, account of that in your at-home menu plan. If you have a busy week ahead, a big batch of soup or casserole may be the perfect thing for you! Leftovers don’t have to be dreaded, rather celebrated as a night off from cooking yet assured to have the nutrition and home cooked goodness that you need! Soups, homemade veggie burgers, and pasta sauces are a few examples of freezer friendly foods! Make a large quantity, and freeze the rest for a busy day.
Third Tip: Know Proper Produce Storage
Different foods let off different gasses as the ripen. Some foods require refrigeration to stay fresh, while some can be kept under ripe a little longer by keeping in the refrigerator. Some foods stay best at room temp. Knowing what is what is VERY helpful to make the most of your weekly grocery haul. The link below is to a FANTASTIC resource to proper at-home food storage!
Fourth Tip: You’re not perfect, and your food shouldn’t have to be either!
We are hyper critical of outward appearance of people, and yes, NOW OUR FOOD. MUCH of our food waste comes from us passing by that apple with a bruise or funny shaped tomato. Let your food have flaws. Bruises don’t mean spoilage, and a little wilt to your greens doesn’t mean they need to tossed either. Be aware of your actions, are you passing up perfectly good produce in your home or at the store because of its looks or are you focusing on the quality of your food by the nutrition it can give you?
We can all do our part to help our planet. It is our purpose to not merely exist, but to leave this beautiful place a little better than we found it. While I promote Plant Based Nutrition as the first and foremost dietary step to the health of all people AND our planet, these food waste tips and tricks can be adopted by anyone, anywhere. If you have any questions about this or further nutrition inquiries, feel free to contact me!
Happy Earth Day, Plant Strong Team!
-Addie Dulaney Majnaric, RDN, LD