By Lisbeth Irish, RDN, CDN, CDCES
Did you know that the average family of four wastes about $1,500 worth of food per year? That means one person would waste approximately $375 per year.
How we plan, store, and make use of the food we buy for meals can save us hundreds of dollars a year. As an added benefit, that food is also less likely to end up wasted in our landfills.
Here are five ways to reduce food waste at home.
- Plan your meals using the MyPlate illustration at https://www.myplate.gov/. MyPlate helps you plan for a variety of foods and eat moderately. Variety and moderation are the foundation of all nutrition recommendations. When you plan ahead, you save money and also reduce waste by purchasing quantities that you know you’ll use. Planning also saves time and stress when you don’t have to think of something to eat at the last minute.
- Check your cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator to see what foods you have already and create a shopping list for the rest. Only buying what you need saves money. Having a list saves time too. You won’t need to wander around the store aisles deciding what to buy. (P.S. Don’t go to the store when you are hungry. We all know how that turns out.)
- Store foods so they don’t spoil. The Natural Resources Defense Council provides a “Refrigerator Demystified” info sheet with great tips on how to maintain the quality of your food and prevent food-borne illness. Tip: Store fruit and vegetables that are moist (like berries and salad greens) with a paper towel. The paper towel will help absorb any extra moisture. Too much moisture encourages mold and other types of spoilage.
- Prepare only what you need. Large and extra portions are tempting. If you only prepare enough for one serving per person, you will save money. Portion control also contributes to a healthy diet. But remember that different people might require different amounts of food. Young children need smaller amounts, growing teens may need bigger portions, and older adults might need a little less than younger adults.
- Leftovers can save time and money while reducing waste if you turn them into another meal. Be sure to reheat those leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t keep them longer than seven days. Tip: Leftovers will taste better if you use them within three days. Freeze what you don’t want to eat this week. If you freeze leftovers, be sure to label them and be sure to include the date that you began freezing them. For the best quality, use frozen leftovers within a month. You can also repurpose leftovers into another meal. For example, use leftover chicken and vegetables to make a hearty soup: the perfect lunch for a chilly March day. For soup and other great recipes, go to https://www.snapedny.org.
Reducing food waste is a Win-Win. You SAVE TIME, MONEY, EAT HEALTY and protect the environment.
Lisbeth Irish RDN, CDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA). She has over 25 years of experience working as a Registered Dietitian in a variety of settings and currently oversees the NYSOFA SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education program for older adults in New York State. Lisbeth is also a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. She attended NY Medical College and has a degree in Nutrition from SUNY Oneonta. Lisbeth enjoys reading, nature, and traveling. Lisbeth says she feels very fortunate to be working with such a dedicated group of professionals at NYSOFA.
For more great tips, watch Lisbeth’s monthly Facebook livestream “Ask The Experts: Nutrition Edition” at 1 p.m. on the second Friday of every month. You can tune in to the program on NYSOFA’s Facebook page.