(Baptist Health) – Eat well. Stretch your food dollar. Help the planet.
Most of us don’t set out to waste food, but it’s still a big problem in the U.S.
We throw away about 80 billion pounds of food every year. It’s not just wasteful. When rotting food hits landfills, it puts off methane gas that affects the earth’s atmosphere. And if we wasted just 15% less food, it would be enough to feed an estimated 25 million Americans.
HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
With these tips, you can eat better, save money and help protect the planet too.
- SHOP AT HOME FIRST
Before you head to the grocery store, check your fridge, pantry, and freezer for foods. Plan healthy meals you can make using these items.
- BE PURPOSEFUL WITH PRODUCE
Produce is great for you. But it’s also perishable—and it doesn’t help that it’s often hidden in a crisper drawer. In fact, Americans tend to waste nearly 20% of the fresh fruit and veggies they buy. Only purchase what you know you can use or freeze before it goes bad. You’re saving money already!
- LEAN ON LEFTOVERS
Use leftover veggies and lean meats for a hearty and healthy soup, stir-fry, casserole or omelet. Have fruit that’s just about past its prime? Blend it with other smoothie fixings, like low-fat yogurt and milk or juice. Or freeze fruit for future use. Frozen grapes make a great snack on their own!
- STOCK SHELVES BY AGE
In your fridge and pantry, make sure foods that should be eaten first are up front. You might also consider designating a spot in your refrigerator for items or dishes that should be eaten sooner rather than later.
- KNOW WHAT ‘BEST BY’ MEANS
You’ll want to mind true expiration dates. But when a product is stamped with “best by” or “best before,” that refers to quality—meaning it will likely taste better if you use it before that date. It doesn’t mean it’s unsafe when the date passes, as long as it was stored properly.
- DONATE TO OTHERS
What about when you have good and untouched food that you know you’re not going to use? Check with your local food bank or shelter to see if they accept food donations.
- CONSIDER COMPOSTING
Many people compost their food scraps instead of throwing them away. You’ll be lessening the amount of food that goes into a landfill. There are different ways you can get the job done. You might start with online research or talk with friends who compost for advice.
No garden? No worries. In some communities, you can have your compost picked up, or you may be able to donate it to a local farm.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency