15 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Love food but hate waste? Welcome to the club. With almost half of all food produced being wasted worldwide - during processing, transport, in supermarkets and kitchens - food waste is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
In Toronto alone, single-family households discard about 275 kilos of food waste each year and Toronto taxpayers spend nearly $10 million a year getting rid of food waste that is not composted. But what can we do to make a difference? Well, quite simply, a lot. We as individuals can make small differences that add up to big change in the amount of food we throw away each year. To help get you started (or to give you a few more ideas!), we've put together a list of 15 tips to save more and waste less right now.
1. Plan ahead. Take inventory of what you already have (or what's coming your way in your Fresh City bag), create a meal plan and stick with it. While creating your plan, consider how many meals you will be eating at home vs. eating out, what will make good leftovers for lunches, and so on.
2. A little food prep goes a long way. Put aside a little time when your produce arrives or after you've grocery shopped to prep your fruits and veggies for the week ahead. This will save you time in the long-run and could be the difference between making that homemade meal after a long day at work or just throwing the towel in and ordering out (and wasting all that fresh produce in the fridge!)
3. Rotate items in your fridge. You may have heard this one before but it's worth saying again - put the newer items in the back or bottom of the fridge, and keep the older items closer to the front/top. No more finding a tupperware of mouldy food in the depths of the fridge!
4. Use it all. Recipes frequently direct you to peel or remove a part of whatever food you're cooking with, but oftentimes those food items can be saved. For example, leave the skin on carrots and potatoes (the skins actually have a ton of valuable nutrients!), sauté broccoli stems along with the florets (they're full of flavour too!), save the beet greens for a salad or smoothie, and don't throw away those citrus peels!
5. Freeze it. Here's a great tip from Fresh City member @lainey008: "purée your herbs and greens into cubes to save for soups and smoothies!" We also recommend freezing any fruit that's getting overripe if you won't be eating it soon, to save for smoothies or desserts later on.
6. Up your storage game. Not sure how to keep prevent those greens from wilting overnight? Can't seem to keep your tomatoes firm for more than a day or two? Do your research on produce storage and you'll reap the rewards. Not sure where to start? Check out our Local Produce Storage Guide here.
7. Keep a "need to eat" list. Use a whiteboard on your fridge or a chalkboard in your kitchen to prioritize food items in the fridge (and in the pantry) that need to be eaten first.
8. Sharing is caring. Know you're going away for a little while and that things may go bad in the fridge? Plan in advance and let a friend know you've got a fruit/veggie gift coming their way.
9. Join a CSA or local food delivery program. Minimizing the distance food travels helps cut down on food waste, including that which is lost during transport and in terms of energy saved from food storage.
10. Pick the 'funny looking' produce. Many fruits and veggies are thrown away because they aren't 'pretty' enough for picky consumers. Buying produce that comes in a different shape, size or colour than what we may have imagined as typical for that item helps use up food that might otherwise be tossed.
11. Can it. Got more produce than you know what to do with? Try canning it and you will enjoy your bounty for months to come, including tasty summer fruits and veggies in the middle of winter!
12. Compost. Make use of those food scraps AND get nutrient-rich fertilizer - it's a win-win! Try building your own vermicomposting bin in your backyard or on your balcony.
13. Reconsider tossing it. Brown bananas (even the reallllyyyy brown ones) are the best in baked goods and smoothies! Old veggies that are wilting or feeling less than firm can be used in soups or stews, or made into your own vegetable stock. Tomatoes can be puréed for tomato sauce or salsa.
14. Best before dates. Those scary little labels can make you stop dead in your tracks - there's NO WAY you'll eat that salad dressing a week after it's 'gone bad' and those eggs are definitely not good, right? Wrong. People often confuse best before dates with expiry dates. But the best before date has nothing to do with the safety of the food - it pertains to flavour and nutritional value. So while the taste may be a little compromised, many food items are still safe to eat for many days beyond the best before date. Yes, even eggs! Click here and here for more information.
15. Spread the word. Share your tips and tricks for reducing food waste with family and friends - we don't know what we don't know. Together we can help win the 'war' on waste!